Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Consciousness of Labor

Dear Friends,

If I wait until next week, Labor Day will be over and we will not have talked about it.

So let’s bring it up in our consciousness this week, not as the official end of the summer season in upstate  New York, but for what it was in its origin more that 110 years ago. It came out of the struggle of working people to be treated with respect and dignity. If we are at all aware of the stories that make up global news, the struggle of workers is a work in progress.

I remember as a child, watching as my father participated in one particularly significant strike. Dad was a steelworker at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna. He and his coworkers plugged along through World War II in less than satisfactory conditions. That was part of the American sacrifice that was made during those profoundly cohesive years. But after the war, they would take no more. The struggle for justice that took up most of the winter of 1945-46 was long-remembered in Lackawanna, but it paid off in the health, safety and security benefits won by the workers. The labor union had been at its best in those years.

Since then, labor has struggled all over our country and world so that people might live  with adequate wages and benefits. : farm workers, mine-workers, teachers in our land, the shipyard workers of Poland, the sweatshops of Asia.

Today, hold these people close:
·         Workers who face dangerous conditions or hazards without sufficient protection
·         All who face the conflicts of working and caring for children without adequate support
·         Workers who cannot find work and for whom unemployment assistance is unavailable
·         Women and children caught up in the sex trade
·         Workers displaced by technical change or global pressure to relocate jobs
·         Children whose childhood is cut short because they are forced to work
·         All who face discrimination in getting work or in the workplace itself because of  race, gender, sexual orientation, or physical disabilities
·         Workers whose work is taken for granted, is unappreciated or lacks meaning.

Hold them close and pray to the son of the Carpenter of Nazareth to remind all workers

( those named above, you and me, nameless others) that God  values human labor as sacred – a reflection of the very work that God does.  Through work, we bring light, beauty and renewal to our world.