Hands-on work brings satisfaction

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

"People underestimate the benefits of manual labor. There's freedom in it."

This line, by actor Morgan Freeman, in the movie "Bruce Almighty," is forgotten by many and practiced by some. Most of the people in this world have developed into couch potatoes because of remotes, cars and rapidly advancing technology. People don't remember how all work was accomplished by their ancestors in the early 1700s.

Our ancestors had the sun burning into their backs and tough callouses on their palms by dusk. They knew how to get work done without using electric saws and rechargeable drills. Heck, they didn't even have batteries.

Some adults still do backbreaking labor, such as construction workers and archaeologists. These hard-working citizens may come home smelling to high heaven, but they're happy to have gotten a project finished. My generation of teenagers are either on the computer, Xbox or watching television. We have become slaves in our own homes and mope around like freshly awoken zombies. All we do is sleep, eat and sit in front of a static electric screen.

I use my hands for almost everything throughout the day, whether it's constructing a new hemp necklace (which I've mastered) or rolling up my sleeves to cut up a dead tree for firewood (which I hate to do, but still help with). I wouldn't be surprised if I have arthritis by the time I hit my 20s.

I've even grown a bone-hard lump on my finger where my pencil rests. Sure, I enjoy watching my favorite television program, "The Simpsons," but I don't spend hours mesmerized staring at a colored box with dials. Plus it's not very healthy for my already terrible eyes.

Manual labor is good for the heart and soul. I know it is for me. It feels great to know you've completed a project, and even better to know that the hard hours put into it could help someone. That feeling reaches deep into my heart and binds itself tightly around the insides. Even if it's something you don't necessarily enjoy, make the work you're doing as pleasurable as possible. I encourage teens and even adults to get out and get a piece of that freedom floating around in the air. Try to get some work done. You won't be disappointed. The feeling is outstanding.

Emily Liebeknecht is a student at Jackson High School.

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