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Blue or White Collar - Which is Best?

Written By: Dan Stanley  |  Posted: Saturday, August 18th, 2012

                I am not sure that is a good question.  Maybe we should not pit the two against each other.  Yet we have made these two phrases - "blue collar" and "white collar" - opposing types of work, with "white collar" work being made preferable.

                For the sake of clarity, blue collar work refers to manual labor and white collar work refers to what we might call office or desk jobs.  I was raised with the understanding that a desk job was to be coveted.  Manual labor was alright and necessary, but not the most desirable.  Go to college and get a good job (white collar) was the push.  Of course, if college did not pan out, go to a technical school and learn how to make a living working with your hands.  That was better than nothing.

                Let's slow down for a minute.  Here is a three plus cheers for blue collar work and workers.  Might I go further and say that manual labor is not only equal to a desk job, but more than likely, especially if skilled, preferable to a desk job?  A skilled job that requires the use of the hands and the strength of the body is one of the most wholesome lines of work a person can do.  I think we tend to equate manual labor with "digging ditches" or something like that.  But the person doing manual labor in a trade or skill uses not only their hands and back and legs, they also use their brain.  In fact, true manual labor that is skilled is the use of the combined parts of our makeup - body and mind as well as spirit.

                Yes, "brains over brawn" is true if understood right.  But if the brain is involved in using the brawn, you now have an ideal combination.  We have been made in a unique way by our Creator, and few things use all of its abilities more than skilled manual laborer.  Did not Adam "till the ground" in the beginning of time?  Time and age moderate its use, yet wisdom and patience enable it to be profitably used all our lives long.  Many farmers in our area still work the fields and they are in their eighties.

                Should I not add that it would do well for those who are "white collar" workers to add some manual labor to their present line of occupation?  It will help the blood in their brains to flow better so they can think better.  It will also maintain their physical strength, resulting in the elimination of many of the diseases we can suffer as we grow older.   And is not the child who grows up to do "white collar" work not benefited if they are raised doing "blue collar" work?  Yes, they are.  Often that very training gives a person balance that is not possible for those who did not learn to work manually, skilled or not.

                I must admit I feel sorry for those who never learned to use their hands and back.  They may be good with figures, but if it was not for "blue collar" workers, they would not have a job.  I am not so sure this can be said the other way around.  None of this removes the value of a desk job (admittedly many of them are fabricated).  Rather, hopefully it puts this in perspective.  The best white collar worker is the one who has got his hands dirty along the way.  The best blue collar worker is the one who uses his brain to get the job done.

                Let us stop making too much out of a desk job, especially if that job is viewed as easy.    The idea of wanting a job that is easy is unsound thinking. The Scots use to say after a hard day's work that "he done a good day's darg." We are greatly advantaged if we are able wisely to work a job that makes us weary.  Didn't you know that "the sleep of a laboring man is sweet?"  The Jews themselves taught that if a father didn't teach his son a trade, that he taught him to steal.  And even Jesus was a carpenter until He was thirty years of age.

                Dan Stanley is an owner and contributing editor of the Eau Claire Journal.  Email:

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