Monday, April 16, 2007

It is interesting in an extremely tragic way, that educational institutions have become the focal point of wrath amongst the mentally ill in America. I have some ideas that some would regard as weird. There is a relationship between the use of the hands and the engagement of the heart in learning and in life. I can describe it in personal terms from observation of my own life. I can describe it in less personal terms from having observed a whole community of craftsmen and artists in Eureka Springs for over 30 years. I can describe it from the perspective of being a teacher of woodworking k-12. I can describe hearing from other craftsmen and artists the relationship between the engagement of their hands in making, and the feelings of emotional and mental well-being that result.

Do you hear what I'm saying? Do you get it? What we do with our hands is directly related to personal and societal mental health. Take some time to observe it in your own life. If I am dead wrong from your perspective, then perhaps you should stop reading this blog. If I am right, then we need to talk about things, about our hands, with others in our community. (Warning: It will involve some risk. Some might think you're nuts.)

Or we can just keep quiet. We can watch more Amish school children killed, a few more Columbines and Virgina Techs. I could decide I'm wacky myself for thinking that the hands could actually have such significance in our lives. People could arrive at the conclusion that I've gone off the deep end, inflating my sense of mission surrounding the "wisdom of the hands" to megalomanial proportions. But talk to some artists if you like... few would apply their own understanding as significant to the culture at large, but nearly all will confirm the relationship between making and mental health in their own lives. Can American craftsmen and artists all be so wrong?

I am so very sorry to read of today's events.

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