Wednesday, May 01, 2013

My Brother's Keeper

I really did not know this until I heard it on BBC World Service today:

On May 1, 1886, Chicago unionists, reformers, socialists, anarchists, and ordinary workers combined to make the city the center of the national movement for an eight-hour day. Between April 25 and May 4, workers attended scores of meetings and paraded through the streets at least 19 times. On Saturday, May 1, 35,000 workers walked off their jobs. Tens of thousands more, both skilled and unskilled, joined them on May 3 and 4. Crowds traveled from workplace to workplace urging fellow workers to strike. Many now adopted the radical demand of eight hours' work for ten hours' pay. Police clashed with strikers at least a dozen times, three with shootings.
 Inspired by the American movement for a shorter workday, socialists and unionists around the world began celebrating May 1, or “May Day,” as an international workers' holiday. In the twentieth century, the Soviet Union and other Communist countries officially adopted it. The Haymarket tragedy is remembered throughout the world in speeches, murals, and monuments. American observance was strongest in the decade before World War I. During the Cold War, many Americans saw May Day as a Communist holiday, and President Eisenhower proclaimed May 1 as “Loyalty Day” in 1955. 

Which explains my ignorance; born in the wrong year....

And the Pope said:

"Living on 38 euros ($59) a month - that was the pay of these people who died. That is called slave labour." Francis said in a private impromptu sermon at his personal morning Mass in his residence, Vatican Radio reported.

"Not paying a just wage, not giving work, only because one is looking at the bottom line, at the budget of the company, seeking only profit - that is against God".

"Today in the world there is this slavery that is perpetrated with the most beautiful thing that God has given man: the capacity to create, to work, to make his own dignity," he said.

"How many brothers and sisters in the world are in this situation because of these economic, social and political policies?"

"Dignity is not bestowed by power, by money, by culture - no! Dignity is bestowed by work. Social, political and economic systems have made a choice that signifies exploiting the individual."

"Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. I think of how many, and not just young people, are unemployed, many times due to a purely economic conception of society, which seeks selfish profit, beyond the parameters of social justice."
When disaster strikes in America, whether man made or natural, we resent any implication that the victims are at fault.  But when the problem is a failure of the system that is supposed to provide us all with dignity, with "the capacity to create, to work," we blame the individual.

We are all responsible; which does not mean we are all at fault.  If we took the responsibility more seriously, the need for fault would all but disappear.

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