I just read the statement, “Many hands make light work,” and I feel like it was probably interpreted correctly in the past, and as a saying it still is. But when I read it, I thought, “Many hands make light work… each,” which to me implied that each extra hand increased the work load by a small amount (which is true, from a project management perspective). I suspect that the original phrase came from an older time when English was a bit more flexible in where you could put words versus what they meant/implied in those locations (what does “make” imply is an important distinction here), or possibly also from back when “work” literally meant “labor” (as in physical exertion) and so making something “light” was very literal in this case.
It is, of course, also true the intent of the phrase as “more hands make work lighter.” In fact, both interpretations of the phrase are true. It is another “known” axiom of project management that any given project has a theoretical optimum number of “hands,” and any hands beyond that optimum actually takes it back to creating MORE work (at worst) or just… idle hands (at best).
This phrase is used frequently in Mormon circles for topics like setting up for an activity (or, more importantly, cleaning up after one), moving someone in or out of a house, volunteer work at a park, etc… Typically, there is ample work for however-many people show up, but on occasion I have observed too many people showing up. In these cases, since there is rarely any overarching organization built up to ensure that no hands go idle (as there is so painfully often in the workplace), hands will tend to go idle after a while. This is when basketballs start bouncing in the gymnasium, or footballs start getting thrown around by these “idle hands.”
Finally, assuming truth in another phrase — “idle hands are the Devil’s plaything” — allows me to conclude quite tangentially that sports are evil activities; a point that I will defend right up until someone suggests that these idle hands may also engage in activities that I enjoy, at which time I suspect that I may just concede my hobbies are also evil. That way I get to still claim that sports are evil, and all it costs me is the comfort of claiming my own hobbies aren’t.
Wait, where was I going with this?