Americans don’t seem to be in the mood to talk about Labor Day. Many are out of a job, not by their own choosing. Hard-working people are watching their savings dwindle. Others are sick and tired of the chaos going on in our country. Still others (I talked to a 30-something yesterday) want “this election stuff to be over.” Let’s get a Common Sense Civics and Citizenship perspective on Labor Day before we “throw in the towel” on this holiday.
Before Calvin Coolidge was President, he was the Governor of Massachusetts. He wrote the following eye-opening statement on September 1, 1919:
“I cannot think of anything characteristically American that was not produced by toil (work). I cannot think of any American man or woman preeminent in the history of our Nation who did not reach their place through toil. I cannot think of anything that represents the American people as a whole so adequately as honest work. We perform different tasks, but the spirit is the same. We are proud of work and ashamed of idleness. With us there is no task which is menial, no service which is degrading. All work is ennobling and all workers are ennobled.”
What strikes you about this statement? Here are my thoughts:
-It is American to work heartily and hard at whatever job you have.
(Like: being unemployed and looking for a new job; homeschooling your children/grandchildren; doing work you don’t want to do for this season so you and your family can eat; pursuing recovery from illness
-We don’t get to where we want to be without hard work, be it mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional.
(Americans do the hard work to achieve their goals and potential).
-We do honest work.
(Remember the saying, “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay?”)
-We pay workers what they are owed.
-One hundred years ago, people were ashamed of idleness and proud of their work.
(What is our view of idleness today?)
-One hundred years ago, Americans were humble enough to do what needed to be done.
(What is our view of doing work that isn’t in our “gift mix?” Are we a nation of braggarts? Is there any work that is “beneath” you? What values do we teach our children?)
-One hundred years ago, Americans were encouraged to dignify a worker and his/her work.
Today, we look around and see not a whole lot to celebrate about work. Consider what was going on in the world in 1919, when Coolidge made this statement:
The Treaty of Versailles to end World War I but set the stage for World War II.
The Russian Revolution
The Communist Party of America organized in Chicago
The Red Scare
The Spanish Flu pandemic
Not exactly a time of ease in the world or at the job. Yet, a future President took time to acknowledge the value of American’s work. May this add perspective to our thoughts about Labor Day.
Thank you for the work you do and have done for our country.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.??