Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my father tinkering at his workbench. Actually looking back he wasn’t tinkering, he was repairing something that needed a bit of help. I distinctly remember the two-sided toaster that he dismantled to get it up and running again. I loved that toaster.
A young soldier in World War II, my father took pride in the skills he learned in the service. He took pride in his tools. He was a practical man. And practicality included not throwing things away that could be fixed.
It was a different time. But was it?
Fast-forward to the recent Federal Trade Commission’s stance on ending the restrictions manufacturers place on individuals repairing their own goods. From cell phones to tractors, companies currently “own” the right to repair. Buyers, like us, are often unable to purchase parts needed and attempts at repair are forbidden.
That liberal leaning state of Massachusetts led the way with its 2020 Right to Repair Initiatives and now corporations are crying foul that the right for the buyer to repair could become the law of the land.
My father was a conservative. He was conservative in his politics, in his faith and in his approach to life. I am 100% certain he would be 100% against corporate ownership of repair. He would not have let anyone take away his ability or his keen sense of wonder.
This isn’t about liberal or conservative. This is basic Humanity 101. Everyone needs a little elbow room to live as they wish.* Everyone needs to live in dignity.
I still have some of my father’s tools. I use them proudly. I can’t fix everything, but hey, that is the gift of community. We help one another. And you can’t take that away.
*I first heard that phrase from one of the greatest advocates for humanity, Prem Rawat.
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