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Labor Day: A Revolution for Dignity

 

The late 1800s was a terribly busy time for American workers. 12-hour workdays for 7 days of the week was the MINIMUM requirement for workers, even the children who were as young as 5 years old. This was the time of the “Industrial Revolution.” The term “revolution” means an act of resistance, which could be a rebellion or something as severe as an “insurrection.” A revolution is a turning point that prompts change. The Industrial Revolution indeed brought change in the mid-19th century. People worked in mines, producing handmade goods with their manual labor, then came the technological, cultural, and socioeconomic changes. This altered time primarily involved the use of machines such as the “steam engine.” Electricity even became an alternative energy source. Socioeconomically speaking, the beginning of the revolution brought misery to many. Especially the poor immigrants; they suffered unsanitary and unsafe work conditions including limited access to fresh clean air. This kind of work environment led to the preexisting labor unions rising up to bring their own brand of revolution through protests. One such notable yet infamous form of protest was known as the “Haymarket Riot.” This was intended to be a peaceful protest that later erupted into violence when the police on standby for security were attacked with a bomb. This event resulted in 8 casualties, both civilian and law enforcement. Many others were wounded. Interestingly enough, this protest was organized thanks to another incident where advocates assembled and were fired on by police.

 

 

“Labor Day” was designed to be a day of celebration, that honors all hardworking Americans that have faced adversity and trials but continued to persevere and strive for success. All of these social and economic strides are cause for festivities, because “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” This expression can be found in James Howell’s “1659 Proverbs,” this expression means that too much work leaves you boring. However, I would say that that being overworked and treated unfairly leads to being burnt out, exhausted, and at times it feels like all the joy has been stolen from your life. Balance is important in all areas of your life. You never want to be dull; you want to remain sharp. In Proverbs 27:17 King Solomon shares that — “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” This means we should be surrounding ourselves with “sharp” Christians and not people that are “dull” like butter knives just on autopilot surviving each day. Those kinds of individuals chase the “American Dream.” They end up bankrupt more times often than not. Then you have those that support the founding fathers of our nation, and their creed. The United States of America was established as “One Nation Under God.” That means that religious liberty has always been a foundation for America. This did not mean ANY religion, as many today try to claim that separation of church and state is constitutional. It meant that people were given freedom to practice their beliefs in their own way without the threat of persecution. But in Thomas Jefferson’s letter, he only stated that no one should be forced to practice the religion, nor should they be prohibited from doing so if I they wanted to. This was reinforcing the power of choice and our free will as opposed to how it was living in monarchy rule.

 

 

In the US Constitution, any and all workers are entitled to the right to treated with dignity, to be provided with a living wage, job security and stability, and if these rights are violated, they have the right to protest and organize strikes. Thus, Labor Unions were formed and to this day continue to advocate for equality and prosperity. We have a God-given right to be treated as human beings. In Egypt, the Jewish people were enslaved and forced into servitude for the Pharoah. In Exodus 6:5-6 God proclaims — “And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord, I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great judgments.” Jesus is “The Redeemer,” that paid the debt of our sin with His own blood shed on that old rugged cross. Slavery has always existed, and wars have been waged to bring an end, but it never comes. Even today, we are sometimes slaves to our government, or corporations. Wages get garnished, companies lose business, employers abuse their staff in hostile work environments, etc. We do notdeserve this treatment but there is evil in this world, and they are people such as the Elites that want to control others. There have been many dictatorships throughout history that were the result of a prideful leader seeking to control his followers, which could very well be citizens. A good example would be communism which operates with a socialist economy, and people just want to access their resources to survive.

 

 

Poverty is a real problem in the US along with across the world. There are those that worship money because it supplies their every desire, and they lose themselves to the materialistic world. People also idolize money for survival and forget what it means to live. Mark 8:36-37 reveals — “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for soul?” We lose sight of what it means to live, our jobs can consume our lives because we believe it is the only means to live and often it distracts us from our first ministry which is our families, our marriages, our livelihoods. When God told us to labor, although we should have longsuffering, we should not bear a lot of what we choose to put up with just to get a paycheck. Labor should be rewarding as told in John 6:27 — “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on him.” God is our provider not your boss. It is ok to work but do not let it be all there is to life, or you will become dull not only mentally but spiritually. “Labor Day” commemorates all that has been achieved but we should always respect one another in that aspect regardless of the day. Remember that these jobs we do for monetary gain are temporal but there are greater works that leave a legacy behind for others to be inspired. America is referred to as a “city upon a hill” and in Matthew 5:14-15 — “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” We can make a difference in this world, but we do not have to be of the world to do so and we do not have to tolerate abuse to play a vital role in making that difference in whatever setting it may be.

 


 

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