His was a life of bricks and the skillful hands to lay them, fast and capable hands as adept as machines. His was a history thrown with gale force at walls and buildings all over town, a long constructive life of making things to last. Everywhere now in his decline were the monuments of his having passed that way, standing in red clay and mortar, signs of a man’s existence no less expressive than those of whatever poet you might wish to mention.
We are taught from an early age that work is good for us. We are routinely compressed by the idea that hard work builds character while providing for our needs. Work is the alpha and the omega and we are never to question what lurks in between. We are defined by our jobs.
In a recent article — Medical Fakery and the Intentional Placebo Effect — I argued in the comments stream that our minds and our bodies are failing us faster even as medicine advances quicker than ever while we live our two lifetimes.
Our world was built on the backs of laborers who toiled in the fields and created buildings that dared to touch the sky.
When Ebenezer Scrooge wondered aloud in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” — “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” — in response to a request for a charitable donation, that inquiry should make us wonder today if, indeed, we should make a reformed visit to the workhouse ideal.