Where’s Your Head?
Almost every profession or commodity at one time utilized a hammer. Even bank tellers canceled checks with a small hammer that indented an “x” shape on the paper document. Anything that was delivered by a horse and wagon, relied on the profession of Wagon Maker (sur name Wagner) as well as the Ferrier to shoe or “shaw” the horses.
Barrel makers (sur name: Cooper), cobblers (sur name: Shoemacher), machinists, loggers and
poster/bill hangers all had specially shaped hammers to facilitate production.
Hammers were not only vital, they were prolific. In 1867, over 500 different
styles of hammers were produced,
each designed for a particular
or industry. 1
The hammer in the form of a stone may very well
be the first (power) tool. Some animals such as the
sea otter often use rocks to bang open shell fish and
sea urchins. Most jobs involving hammers have
disappeared or at the very least have eliminated the
hammer in the process. It could be human nature or
cultural motivation that causes a collective push that
attempts to eradicate manual labor, such as that done
with a hammer. By no means is this eradication right
or wrong, it simply occurs. However, we have strayed from a very important moral lesson about manual labor. When the hand is applied to a craft or professional trade, the hands are not idle. The user gains a greater understanding of the world from tacit knowledge produced by the "hands on experience". Resurrecting the trades such as the Ferrier or Cooper would be a futile attempt to prevent idle hands from becoming the “Devil’s Workshop”. Nor would this guarantee any resolve or repair of our society's dysfunctions.
I offer no absolute solution. I can only point out that we have lost our heads (minds and hammer). Whether it is rising crime rates or the plunging dollar, we can be idle, like we have become accustomed, or we can take action and find the right tool for the job.
New jobs may not necessarily involve toil or extreme manual labor. We must employ or be employed with a sense of purpose and hold in high regard the "hands on experience".
Leadership, partnership and life require tools and skills which, along with the hammer, are disappearing. We must respect tools, both metaphorical and physical, and the skills used to wield them. When I ask “Where’s Your Head?”, I am asking everyone to look for the right tool for the job. If you have misplaced that tool, it’s right their where you last left it. It’s in your hands.
1 George Basalla, The Evolution of Technology, (Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge Press,
1988), pg. 2.
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