Tuesday, July 22, 2008


This has been kicking around for awhile, but I’ve had trouble bringing all the threads together.  I’ve a got a picture. Now if I can just fit it in a frame.

Harking back to my entries on canning and stuff.  It was work, but it wasn’t. There was time between batches to kick back, read a little, harass a little sister (or be harassed), pull a weed or three, to just be. That’s how I was raised. That’s what families do; or did. And that’s what they did for generations. What really bugs me is that when the work gets entered in the balance sheet for gross national product, all that ends up in the final total is the cost of the materials. There’s no line in GNP for the creation of the ties between friends and families.

The work was done within the family or with friends. Think back on all those stories of barn raisings and quilting bees. The work got done, but no money changed hands. More than likely everybody went home with tired bodies, full stomachs, the satisfaction of a job well done and enough juicy gossip to keep tongues wagging until the next get together.

No income was recorded. No taxes paid. Well, in our case, dad got paid by Pope and Talbot for managing one of their cutting crews, but that information got put on a different line on the balance sheet.

I’m sure it wasn’t some sinister conspiracy, but somehow we’ve been convinced that it’s more productive for both parents to work outside the home and pay someone else to provide the things we did for ourselves. Or try to squeeze all that “unpaid” work in around the edges.

And no, we didn’t do it all. No family could ever provide everything they needed from within the family. They always had to fill in with what they couldn’t do themselves. And no, I don’t want to live in a country where the only job for woman is in the home. I like having the choices.

But, I get the feeling it’s a giant shell game. The same work gets done. But, now the national economy recognizes the value of the work because a dollar value can be attached to it and taxes get paid. And somehow the parent that stays home is seen as being less productive than if they were in the paid job market.

And I guess you need to push to have both parents in the job market while the pressure keeps building to turn pre-school into kindergarten and kindergarten into the first grade. Can’t have those pesky children taking too much time to become employable for the jobs we’ve decided are worth paying for. There’s very little room anymore for clowns, dreamers, contemplatives or other square pegs.

I truly believe we’ve lost even more. There’s a knowledge that comes from having to manage things. You don’t learn that in a class room. There’s a knowledge that comes from knowing you won’t always get what you want the way you want it. You just might have to settle for something else. You may have to wait awhile. And you just might find out that what you get is so much more than you expected.

And in reference to Lisa's earlier entries today. You can't say this often enough. If you have to explain the joke, it probably wasn't funny in the first place. Humor can be, and often is, a thinly veiled excuse for hostility. How many of us have found ourselves laughing at a joke while thanking whoever runs the universe that the joke wasn't directed at us. When you call the "joker" on his/her bad taste they can try turn it back on you. You're just not sophisticated enough to get the joke. Puhleez. Perhaps we're caught off guard with no snappy comeback. I've had those deer in the headlights moments more than once.  Or maybe we're just too polite to tell someone he's the south end of a north bound Missouri mule.


emmapeeldallas said...

You've done an excellent job of fitting it into the frame.  Most of the time now, I feel as if my life is spinning out of control...and it's not a good feeling.  With all of the amazing new devices (and I'm well aware that having this ability to communicate with people I'd otherwise never have met is part of that), still, somehow, people seem to be getting more isolated then ever.  I'm not sure why...but it's a sad comment on our times that it's so.


mlraminiak said...

An industrial revolution came along and made the life you speak about--the one with the quilting bees and the barn raisings--obsolete.  Man has been on a long-standing quest to make his life--and woman's life--easier.  Unfortunately, we didn't realize that by raising that barn in a time and labor-saving way, we were also destroying the social opportunity that went with the building.  

We have indeed become very isolated, one from another.  We don't depend on our communities for friendship, safety, help, and all the other things communties used to provide.  These days, we just use our neighbors as a yardstick by which we judge whether we have enough stuff...

Lisa  :-]

frankandmary said...

I see the benefits to academia, to "productive"  solutions(which is very subjective) & to a move forward(subjective also), but I also know that my Dad's devotion, more than academic prowess or any of the other concerns, accomplished a lot. He was a proud man, as I am proud of him. ~Mary