Popular figures like Mike Rowe have helped soften the stigma of a life in the trades. Where once parents shuddered at the idea of a child going into excavation or carpentry, they now can bear the thought.
But that progress falls short of bestowing a genuine sense of pride and, more importantly, dignity on tradesmen and tradeswomen.
Neither Versailles nor Sans Souci were built by their masters, Louis XIV and Frederick the Great respectively. Rather, unnamed artisans laid the bricks, set the timber and flooring, and painted the walls and ceilings.
Composers like J.S. Bach, Scarlatti and Vivaldi saw themselves less as “artists” than as “artisans.”
The triumphs of the Roman Empire, roads and aqueducts, were not built by senators or poets, but rather by laborers and craftsmen.
Yet today, many still view the trades as a step-down, a mere means of paying the bills.
As a housepainter, I feel the sting of this perception. But the fact that my jobsite features metal, hip hop and classic rock should not detract from the fact that it is by our labor, knowledge and experience that we bring color, symmetry and functionality to the lives of others.
And -- along with the carpenters, electricians, plumbers, drywallers, floorers, excavators, masons, and myriad other trades -- we should bask in an immense sense of pride in the civilization we have helped to build.
I’m Paul Strietelmeier, and that’s my perspective.