When the woodworking “powers that be” make a statement in writing, should it be countered? When that statement defines a philosophy, or is a call to change, etc. should it be questioned? I used to think so, but now I really don’t care enough to bother. I bring this up for one reason, because quite a few people have asked me why I’ve stopped my rants, or put nicely, my “op-ed” blog posts. I told them what I just told you all: I don’t care.
Continually pushing a large boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down over and over again gets tedious after a while, in particular when it really wouldn’t matter so much if I ever did, in fact, make it to the top of that mountain. For good or ill, woodworking (ers) is what it is now. Ranting, or writing satire, or writing “op-ed” posts won’t change that fact simply because most people involved with woodworking forums, blogs, and media prefer it this way. That is fine. The ‘people have spoken’ as they say.
In all of my ranting and raving I’ve had only one real, bona fide contention with the entity of woodworking, and that is the fact that it was once a working class trade and it is now an “upper-class” hobby. That in and of itself is not a bad thing, but now most hobby woodworkers are what I refer to as “professionals”, most of these professionals it seems love to bash the furniture made today (in the sense of furniture made in factories etc.). I’m not saying people don’t have the right to criticize; they certainly do; but in reality they aren’t criticizing the furniture, they are criticizing the people who make it. That part doesn’t sit too well with me. As I’ve said in the past, everybody has the right to criticize, and that includes myself.
Woodworkers in modern cabinet shops use dados, and pocket screws, and biscuit joints because that is what they are told to do, no more, no less. So if somebody out there wants to criticize the manufacturing process I’ll say that I have something of a problem with that, too. It’s pretty easy to bash factories, and production lines, and call them “mindless” or “soul-sucking” or a dozen other insults. I’ll be the first person to tell you that I don’t necessarily work at a job that instills in me a lot of passion. A good part of what I do every day involves sitting at a desk, and tracking parts, and talking to vendors, and a hundred other things that are frankly boring. 7-5, every day, week in, week out, isn’t easy or fun. Yet, while the ins and outs of my job may not leave me beaming with pride every day, I do take a lot of pride in knowing that because I drag my ass out of bed every morning at 5 am and perform a lot of “mindless, soul-sucking nonsense” to the best of my ability, my family has a decent place to live. And though every factory worker, or assembly line employee may not feel that way, I would bet that at least some of them do. Trust me when I say, being a starving artist is easy; being a person that contributes to society by doing the jobs that need doing is not.
I’m guessing that a lot of the hobby woodworkers out there, who happen to be “professionals” at their day jobs, and who happen to be among the group that loves to criticize all of those mind-numbing jobs, likely have never actually performed one of those jobs. It’s pretty easy to criticize something you’ve never done. I, for one, respect anybody who gets out of bed every day and does an honest day’s work. I would never have the audacity to call another person’s job mind-numbing, in particular if I have no real idea of what that job entails. Or to put it another way: I have no desire to be a garbage man, but I sure as hell have a lot of respect for the people who do it day in and day out. I have no way of knowing this, but I am guessing that people who collect garbage for a living aren’t necessarily passionate about their jobs, but they do it nonetheless. If that isn’t commendable I don’t know what is, because in my neighborhood the garbage man is a lot more important than the starving artist. And while a world without art (in its many forms) would not be a nice one, the same too can be said for a world without garbage men.
So when all is said and done, my ranting, and satire, and “op-ed” posts really amounted to nothing. They weren’t going to change anything, they weren’t going to change anybody’s line of thinking, and they made me a lot more enemies than they did friends. So that is why I do not write my little rants anymore. I know that some of you enjoyed them, and I truly appreciate the fact that you did. I just hope that you will enjoy some of the other things I plan on writing about during the upcoming days and months ahead.