Thursday, June 7, 2012

Madeleine Albright and the barber.

I am reading right now former Madeleine Albright's new book "Prague Winter." The book is an account of the former Secretary of State's life growing up as a Czechoslovakian exile in World War II and of the horrors and hardship her nation endured first under the Nazis and then under the Soviets.

On Tuesday I read an anecdote about a relative of Albright's, a doctor, who was transported to Auschwitz. His compatriot, a carpenter, urged him to say he was also a carpenter. The doctor refused to lie about his occupation, or didn't see the need to. He didn't survive the Nazi "Selektion." The carpenter did.

Last night I went to the barber--a Russian Jewish emigrant who is studying to be a pharmacist. Surprisingly he started talking about the Holocaust. He said, "I would have survived because I have a trade. I do something, I make something with my hands."

It occurred to me that much of what is wrong with our business comes from the center of gravity of our business being transfered from our hands to our heads.

We don't spend the bulk of our time making. We spend our hours thinking.

There's nothing wrong with thinking; just as there's nothing wrong with being a doctor.

But it's what we make, produce and air that's most important.


Anonymous said...

Funny, It seems to me most of us make ads without thinking. But we use our hands to type.

Dinesh Bhadwal said...

Drive across the country and you find that hardly anybody makes anything. I think of my own friends and neighbors. One of them sells insurance, one of them takes pictures for a living, one's an actor, one's a lawyer - none of them makes anything. I talk on television. I don't make anything either. This may be the most fundamental change in the country. Years ago, nearly everyone in the cities made something - harnesses, wagon wheels, hats, violins... (Charles Kuralt in On The Road with Charles Kuralt, 1985, G.P.Putnam's Sons)