Friday, August 31, 2018

WAGES IN KEEPING WITH HUMAN DIGNITY


Hello there! FYI, I'll be spending Labor Day, May 1, 2018, on Mt. Rainier, U.S.A. Where will you spend yours? Hiking? That's play, I suppose, and not labor. But everyone deserves a day or two of rest. May your Labor Day weekend be for you a time of rest. A real break from your work.

When I hike from Lake Tipsoo out onto the Burroughs Mountain Trail and look east to view the William O. Douglas Wilderness area, I'll remember the quaver in my dad's voice when he told me, as a youngster, about the environmental commitments--the independent thinking--of this
famous Supreme Court Justice.


William O. Douglas. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.


Labor Day's the holiday in the U.S. celebrating workers. (Note: the rest of the world celebrates on May 1 annually.)




 The first American Labor parade held in New York City on September 5, 1882 as it appeared in Frank Leslie's Weekly Illustrated Newspaper's September 16, 1882 issue.
Image in the public domain via Wikimedia.
Back in 1887: Labor Day was made an official holiday in Oregon, the first state officially to recognize the day. I’m proud to be an Oregon immigrant (from my native Washington State) and bask in the glory of my state’s early recognition of Labor Day.

Personally, I'm very honored to have been endorsed by labor groups when I ran for House of Representatives, Washington State, 2002. As I go off to a terrific family weekend at Mt. Rainier I'll recount that campaign and the wonderful support from organized labor.

The moral perspective on labor and laborers is this: people have a right to work, and to be paid a living wage to secure a standard of living to support life in keeping with human dignity and for themselves and their family. That's what the day is all about.
(See Waldo Beach and Richard Niebuhr, Christian Ethics, 2nd ed., p. 516-17.)

In recent times much has happened to transform the laboring person and labor organizations. Inventions in the electronic world have automated much work formerly dependent on trained, skilled laborers (think  of the work done on assembly lines, by robots.) 

So, it's important to reconize that "labor” isn’t restricted to physical labor. For example, I'd say that a mathematician who devises logarithms labors and can be regarded as a laborer, especially if he/she is paid by the hour or the day. Though work has changed from physical to mental in many situations, I  still regarded it as labor. Do you agree?

Concluding: Labor Day in America grew up from the grass roots. Thirty states declared official labor holidays before the United States acted. See Wikipediafor details.

Final word: Labor Day sales events by retailers are not in the original spirit. As I said, I'll be on Mt. Rainier and I won't be shopping! However, I will be telling the grandkids about labor support for my campaign and the highly moral meaning of Labor Day. I want them to be aware of labor. 

Where will you be? What'll you be doing? 

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