“Men have become tools to their tools.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

There is most certainly a “why” to this statement, and a “how”, and details making up “what” this manifests, but we often don’t hear the “so what” proposed.

Looking to the 1800’s and thinking abstractly for a moment, a typewriter’s chief end must have been to be typed upon. A solitary purpose and solution it achieved through the creation of knowledge work. It trumped any chief end man had in mind for himself as the eight-hour workday soon became our new purpose.

In this, and a landslide of ways before and after, we became subject to the whims of our technology- this is undisputed. Our solution, on the other hand, leaves much to dispute.

Thoreau took it upon himself to leave a life of work in knowledge and eschew all entrappments of the old (but then, new) modern man. “I went to the woods to live deliberately…” His solution is not meant to be applicable to the whole of society but possibly to those who are profoundly in need of escape or release from their cynicism about our culture.

A grand solution, usually backed by organized religion, is the radical transformation of culture around a new (but in actuality, old) set of ideals. I’ll stray from grandeur temporarily to propose a simple component of this idea.

Every religious path in some way prescribes a first step – “returning to one’s roots”. Take this first step in its simplest form. Our deepest roots are in our humanity. We are human beings. The word being has been intentional from the start to remind us we are not human doings.

When we are being, we cannot become tools because our being is counter to any use. We be just to be (not to do).

I believe this is a starting place. Begin to reframe your paradigm about your humanity in small ways. And take a day off from being a tool.

What did you notice today? ///

Author: Ben Fridge

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