I don't really know where to pin the blame. I'm pretty sure it all started with Cap and the way I was seeing him buy into all of those advertising ploys. That's when I started to stop and notice. And really it's my own fault for picking up books I knew were going to mess with me. When I read the description of the book 7, by Jen Hatmaker, I knew right away that it was a book I needed to read (and a book that I absolutely didn't want to read, but I read it). Then I re-read The Irresistible Revolution and went on to Jesus for President.
All of those things combined with the fact that my husband is a member of a trade union have converged to make Labor Day stand out for me this year. I read The Jungle when I was in high school. I have some idea of what working conditions used to be in our country and I am incredibly grateful for a movement that poured blood, sweat and tears into an effort that revolutionized what it means to work in this country. I am also incredibly grateful for a union that works hard to this day to ensure that my husband works under safe and respectable conditions. And unions are not perfect and, yes, there are big problems. But they have done so much good and there is much to be thankful for. And so, Labor Day is a day for celebrating how far we have come and all of those that have worked so hard to bring us here.
But there is another side to the story. Labor Day may be a celebration of where we are, but it's also a cry to remember that the battle is not over. It's a reminder that while our working conditions may be excellent there are so many people out there who are exploited and abused to feed our desires. And I'm learning that it's not just in the developing world - that there are men and women and children trying to put bread on their tables in the good-ole USA who are working under conditions that are little better than slavery.
And I'm not really trying to make a political statement. Honestly, I have no idea how to solve the problem or where to start and there are incredibly intelligent people on just about every side of the issue who can make claims about the right course of action and I can't tell you whose ideas will work and whose won't.
But I do know that the first step is to recognize the problem. And maybe the second step is to say that it's not okay. It's not okay that the majority of the toys my children have are made by children in sweat-shop conditions who will never get to play with those toys. It's not okay that the clothes my baby girl is wearing at this moment were probably stitched together by a person who is dehumanized at every turn by their employer. It is not okay that I keep crying for more cheap stuff to consume and other people work all of their lives to make that stuff under horrendous conditions.
And so, this Labor Day I will celebrate. I will remember the people who have gone before and I will celebrate the freedoms we have today. And this Labor Day I will pray for all of those who work under horrible conditions and I will pray that God continues to open my eyes to injustice and set my feet in motion to stand beside those who don't enjoy the same liberties.