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A Brief Reflection on The True Meaning and Value of Labor
I have a brother who works harder every day of his life than I have worked on any day of mine. My father believed that his labors helped build not only strong family values but strong communities as well. So, although Labor Day itself seems more to modernly mark the end of summer rather than to celebrate working men and women, let's take a moment to pause and reflect upon the true meaning and value of labor.
As most of us know, Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well being of their country. The international labor movement has historically championed the ordinary workingman and woman and continues to be dedicated to preserving the rights to a fair wage and the rights of workers to bargain collectively in good faith. But on this Labor Day we must also stand in solidarity with every workingman and every workingwoman who struggle to provide for their families as profit margins and corporate greed consume the fruits of their labors.
What labor means to a community like Santa Cruz cannot be overstated. For all of our quaint charm and reputation as an artist’s enclave, we have always been at bottom a working class community. Today, the face of that working community is best reflected in the thousands of service workers, day laborers, public works employees, in home care providers, agricultural workers and tradesmen whose labors make our lives fuller, more abundant and more enjoyable.
And the value of labor can likewise not be overstated. Those who labor do so not only with their hands and their heads; they do so with their hearts as well. The joy that those who labor find in their work has always been a mystery to me but remains I think an unalterable truth. So the next time you see that “Honor Labor” bumper sticker, take a moment to pause and reflect upon its true meaning and value.
That's something we can all work on every day of the year.