Today is Labor Day. This holiday was born out of a desire to celebrate the American labor movement, to honor the economic and social achievements of the worker, and to pay tribute to those whose contributions have helped to make our country prosperous and strong.
The Knights of Labor and the Central Labor Union organized the first “Labor Day” parade which took place in New York City in 1882. The original proposal suggested that the day start with a procession through the streets to show the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations”, followed by a celebration of the workers and their families. This was to be a “holiday for the workingman”.
Of course, this holiday isn’t celebrated by everyone. People in many jobs don’t have this day off. Nurses, physicians, police officers, firefighters and newscasters are all working. And, in the world of retail, very few places are closed because this has become another weekend to celebrate with even more consumption.
Working has changed significantly since the 1880s.
We often don’t have any division between our “home life” and our “work life”. We’re “on” from the moment we wake up until we close our eyes at night. Parents frequently miss out on important events with their children because they “have to work”. Family meals are a distant memory in many homes and in spite of “take our daughters and sons to work day”, family life often suffers for the sake of career.
Salaried people are regularly expected to work “as long as it takes to get it done”, regardless of the time of day, day of the week or personal cost.
“Blue Laws”—which kept many businesses closed on Sundays, in order to honor the Sabbath—have in most cases been repealed.
Our obsession with the “stuff” of life creates pressure to earn more money so that we can buy more things, and cycle of accumulation continues. Sadly, what we’ve gained in speed and automation has not afforded us the opportunity to slow down or be more present in the moment.
Of course, we have to work to put a roof over our heads, put food on the table, and clothes on our backs. Of course, there are many who are passionate about what they do for a living, or who truly make our world a better place to live. Sadly, however, the pursuit of financial and career success has become paramount in many people’s lives. Some folks spend hours a day commuting to their place of employment, or work 60+ hours a week. They come home exhausted, unable to fully participate in their family’s or friend’s lives. Then, on their days off, they rush from one thing to the other, trying to “squeeze in” all the stuff they didn’t have—or make—the time to think about during the work week.
Too often, people work all their lives waiting for retirement to really have fun, take that special vacation, spend time with the ones they love, or to simply enjoy life. They put real life on hold believing that they will make up for it when they finally get to slow down and retire.
Before you know it, the children and grandchildren have grown up, you’re in the twilight of this life, and you are tired. You’ve missed so much and think, “If I could do it over again, I’d recognize what’s truly important”.
What are we rushing to or from? What do we miss in the blur that is our life? How can we be responsible, hard-working people who are grateful for our careers, and yet have balance? How do we honor our lives?
Of course, let’s show esprit de corps—devotion, loyalty and enthusiasm—to our careers, but let’s show that same spirit to those who are most important in our lives.
Happy Labor Day,
©2016 peace full home™/intentional living
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