This is a photo of my dad, two sons, and nephew as I came up the hill to help them with field dressing deer last week. To me it holds meaning beyond "deer hunting"...
Yesterday was the close of gun deer season here in Wisconsin, and today was full of catching up on work. This afternoon, I was on the phone with a friend about one type of work while doing a different type of work, and in the process, I was told that I am the most blue collar woman that person ever met. (I was brushing dirt the rain had kicked up onto some pink insulation that my husband and boys dug in along our foundation on Thanksgiving, aimed at protecting it through winter until we are ready to take on serious foundation work. After I brushed the foam board off, my youngest and I painted it so it's less of an eyesore through winter. ) The comment, while I THINK it was meant in admiration, had me thinking about some bigger picture ideas...
Why do people need to categorize "blue collar" work? Why is our country turning into a society with so much disparity between the "haves" and "have-nots"?
As kid, I never dreamed of having a maid, but I have many adult friends who hire someone to clean because they're "too busy" to do it themselves. I know adult males who have no clue how to change brake pads, much less attack any bigger repairs... my own youth was full of rebuilding brake calipers, and taking care of basic maintenance on my car myself. It's not because we were poor, but we were self sufficient. Think of the ads in Sears catalogs or car magazines with guys working on their cars...why is that such a niche thing today? Why am I "blue collar" for working on my house or car or anything else I want to?
America and our freedom was purchased by the labor of people who left a country where they were never going to get ahead through their work; they didn't own the fruits of their labor. Americans are free to work for whoever we want, and maybe the biggest part of the American Dream is that we still are free to decide that. ( I know taxes and IRS leads this to a whole other discussion, but I'm talking purely about the freedom to chose who we are and what we do.) When we chose to need others, to deem work as "beneath" us, we are giving away a little of our freedom. If we are dependent on the blue collar worker to do basic mechanics or labor that an 8 year old with proper direction could carry out...when I hear someone say, "I pay someone to do that."... well, I try not to judge. I try to consider their goals in life. But I often look and see someone who never had the opportunity to learn to work through hands-on application of elbow grease and mental fortitude.
I think the answer to why we have a cultural shift in our view of work is that traditions, what it means to be "American" have been slowly eroded. Decades of what amounts to culturally castrating our nation. Two days ago I watched a movie with my son, 1990s plane hijacking movie...and the entire plot would have been tossed out for not being PC enough. From a lack of free speech in the media, to allowing tantrum-throwing special interest groups push to remove statues they don't like, to states declaring that its citizens will have to give up a right...we've become a nation unwilling to speak with conviction, because we're afraid someone won't like it.
What is the solution? To me...one thing I know I can do is to carry on traditions that are #American. I will work on cars, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable to see a woman laying under the car using a Heli-coil to salvage a brake caliper. (#heliCoilsAreReallyCool ) I will hunt for food, and be proud of field dressing 3 deer, even if it's not perfect. I will continue to live a life that's free because freedom means responsibility. Freedom means work. Freedom means doing the things some people (me included) might not want to do so that I can live the way I want to. ...Freedom also means taking care of my family first so that others can care for theirs.
I think in the end, the "blue collar" label is mis-applied to people who chose to do for themselves. People misconstrue it as "The poors can't afford to pay someone to fix their car.", and they say it with a haughty tone. When in reality, it is The Capable who refuse to burden others with work they are perfectly able to execute. I can't imaging the ridiculousness of paying someone to rub dirt off some foam board and spray paint it! During the Renaissance, the idea of mankind being capable was called being a Renaissance man. I think we need a rebirth of that mindset. We need an American Renaissance where people embrace not just work, but the freedom it brings them, as well as the freedom it gives others.