September 5, 2011
Plumbers-philosophers

Of Plumbers, Philosophers, and the Dignity of Work

I’ve long been taken by this observation:

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

John W. Gardner, the founder of Common Cause, and earlier a secretary of the U.S. Department Health, Education, and Welfare in the Johnson administration, said it. This quote is good fodder for today – Labor Day.

I read this quote years ago and filed it away in memory, or at least a paraphrase of it. I found it once again – and others from Gardner – at the Brainy Quotes Web site.

Plumbing and philosophy – both noble lines of work. What Gardner’s observation says to me is treat the people who tread in those fields with equal dignity and respect.

It’s Labor Day, a national holiday. Enjoy rest and relaxation from your labors. Be grateful for those who are working today.

Tell us about the pipes and the theories – and the people who make them good for us – that you are thinking about this Labor Day.

About the author:

John Feeley is director of public relations at Front Range Community College. He’s a retired soccer referee and newspaper editor whose subscription ran out.