The Only Tool We Really Have

From Eleutheros at How Many Miles From Babylon

Oomog’s Hammer

On a recent trip to the hardware store I was looking over the mill files which hung right beside the display of hammers. A fellow was examining the hammers intently. I fell to musing about us moderns and our tools. Here were dozens of different types of hammers the products of modern metallurgy and manufacturing processes. Haven’t we come to a place of knowledge and sophistication in human history that would be the envy of our forebearers? After all, what would a person from 20,000 years ago make of this display of hammers? Would he not be amazed and embarrassed at our capability and knowledge compared with his own?

I most certainly doubt it.


When called upon to apply his mettle to a real and substantial endeavor, Oomog would have taken out his hammer stone. Dipping into the same tool pouch, we moderns invariably come up with the only tool we really have …. money. Our supposed skills as it turns out have nothing whatever to do with the real world, they cannot solve real problems. Instead if we are hungry, bored, in want of clothes, shelter, transport, you name it, the only tool we have with which to procure it is money.

A letter came from Et Ux’s Alma Mater. On the outside of the envelope it was stamped We need your help!!. Affecting Johnny Carson’s old routine of the Great Karnak, I held the envelope to my head and psychically read the contents. They wanted ‘help’, eh? Volunteer to teach a class, cook in the cafeteria, mow the grass, paint the dorm? No. They wanted money. Just that.

Anthropologists opine that what defined humans from more primitive hominids was their ability to use tools. For far too many of us, if not most of us, our only real tool has been reduced to insubstantial blips on a plastic card. When that is gone, will we own ourselves as regressive throwbacks in the line of human succession hooting and scratching at the sight of even a hammer whose real meaning we scarcely recall any more?

Read it here.

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