Fruits of the workers’ labor
I am honoring Labor Day in typical U.S. fashion. By working.
Because I am self-employed, I can choose to work on any given day and take off some other day. This often results in my working longer hours than I would if I had a 9 to 5 job.
Hard work has brought me to a place of relative security and freedom—but not hard work alone. I was lucky. Lucky to be born to well-off parents. Lucky to have had educational opportunities. Lucky to have been born in a time when women can have careers beyond schoolteacher or nurse.
Lucky, in other words, to be privileged.
Not so lucky are the millions of minimum-wage workers who must work when they can, often at more than one job. Not so lucky are the children of those workers, who may attend struggling schools and return home to parents too exhausted or busy to help with homework. Not so lucky are the people who work hard all their lives only to be wiped out by medical bills or a home loan gone bad.
Does work = worth?
Whether it’s the lingering influence of our Puritan ancestors or some other force, we seem to believe that more work translates into higher moral standing. Even among the a-religious, laziness is a major sin. I know, because there’s some of that belief in me. But carried to its logical conclusion, this belief leads to absurdities like only twelve weeks of unpaid leave for new parents and the idea (whether real or perceived) that using all your vacation time will be detrimental to your career.
I don’t consider myself a socialist or a Marxist, but I do like the statement “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” attributed by Wikipedia to the Frenchman Louis Blanc and popularized by Karl Marx.
Call me whatever names you want, but I hope that on this Labor Day you’ll contemplate your position in society, your relationship to work, the sacrifices of those who fought (and still fight) for better working conditions, and our responsibilities to one another as human beings.
In doing research for this post, I was fascinated to see the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2014 Labor Day page. They must have gotten some hot-shot new media designer to work on it because it looks about as unlike a government web page as anything I’ve ever seen. Check it out—there’s also some good information behind the pretty pictures.
Fruits of my labor
September is turning out to be a big month for me. Two seeds planted months ago in the form of short fiction submissions have sprouted. Both are free to read/listen to online.
- Skyping With the Rabbi – To be published in the Available now in “The Jewish Literary Journal”
- Back After a Break to Discuss the Decline of Civilization – To be published (Audio podcast) at Boundoff.com, September 3.
Watch Twitter and Facebook for an announcement of the Boundoff publication, and I’ll add both to my READ STORIES page.
Also this month, I am featuring “Dance of Souls” on Noistrade.com for free download.
What’s the catch? There is none. Please download—and tell your friends. The file is available as a .MOBI for Kindle or as a .PDF.
Noisetrade also allows you to leave a tip. I hope you will, especially because from now until September 17, half of all tips I receive from Noisetrade downloads will go to support the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. BFWW is an amazing month-long celebration of writing sponsored by Bard College at Simon’s Rock and spearheaded by my good friend Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez. The festival will soon enter the planning stages for its fifth season in 2015.
It’s a cliché to say “win-win” and even more to say “win-win-win,” but I think this is just that.