Labor is nothing to celebrate. Man labored for eons before he made it out of the cave, and today many people around the world still labor, day in and day out, and nevertheless live in squalor. Man’s muscle is not the cause of wealth and prosperity; his mind is.
We can see this if we look at all the goods around us—from air-conditioned homes, schools, and office buildings; to automobiles, airplanes, and yachts; to iPads, surfboards, and mountain bikes; to Ambien, chemotherapy, and heart valves—and ask: How did these things come to be? The answer is that men and women used their minds to figure out ways to transform raw materials—such as iron, clay, petroleum, and countless other elements and compounds—into new forms and combinations to suit human needs.
Of course, people must engage their bodies to create such values. But people have always engaged their bodies. It is only when they engage their minds that such values come to be.
We in the West are so steeped in the fruits of the mind that there is little around us to serve as a foil against which to see the difference the mind makes. Thus it is instructive to turn to a place where squalor is the norm, and see what difference the use of the mind makes there.
In the video below, when a man in Sitio Maligaya (Philippines) uses his mind to transform literal trash (plastic Pepsi bottles) into life-enhancing illumination, we can see clearly that the cause of such value is not labor but thought.
A mind is a beautiful thing to use.
- Norman Borlaug: The Man Who Taught People To Feed Themselves
- Herman Boerhaave: The Nearly Forgotten Father of Modern Medicine