I’ve had a couple of really good conversations lately about the value of doing. By doing, I mean creating: baking, sewing, hammering, soldering, writing, programming, composing. Wires in your hands, words on your lips, dough beneath your fingernails – these are all reminders that you can still influence some small part of the world. That you can make some tangible change in your surroundings. In a world where people are encouraged to acquiesce to conventional wisdom, to give in to frustration and not fight the system, and to ignore the suffering going on in the world because “there’s nothing you can do to help”, simply getting your hands dirty can be a kind of revolution.
I woke up this morning and ate a banana grown by a farmer hundreds of miles away. I checked my email on a device first dreamed of hundreds of years ago and since perfected by literally millions of engineers, scientists and mathematicians. The clothes I put on were designed by one group, manufactured by another, and sold by yet another. As I close the door to my house – designed and built by other people – and hop on public transportation, I can’t help wondering – when was the last time I saw something from start to finish, then stuck around to celebrate the results?
The complexity and diversity of our society is wonderful. We are able to produce some incredible things, from interplanetary robot explorers to hotels made of ice. But so many people seem willing to sit back and say, “I don’t know how that works, and I don’t care”. How large of a step is it from that to, “I don’t know if this was made ethically, and I don’t care”? How quickly might one slide from “I’m stupid, I can’t understand that” to “I’m helpless, I can’t change that”?