Labor With Love… or not at all.
As you roast your hot dogs or catch the last sales of the summer, let me ask you a question. What inspired Labor Day, and how can it inspire you today?
The origins of this now-happy holiday go back to a dark summer in American history.
It was 1894. The country was struggling to recover from a deep depression known as the Panic of 1893. Workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike as the company, facing a huge drop in demand for its railroad cars, lowered the workers’ wages but not their rents.
The strike began in Chicago and exploded within days until at its peak 250,000 people in 27 states were involved. When violence broke out and trains carrying mail were stopped, President Grover Cleveland called in the Army to break the strike and get them moving again. Six days later, Cleveland and Congress made Labor Day a federal holiday.
Today, the US Department of Labor website states dryly:
“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
But who are those workers?
I suggest that they are you and me. They include everyone who gets up in the morning to do a job. And anyone who longs to add something of value to the stream of life.
And what contributions are we making?
There’s a lot of conflict in the world today. All around the globe, people are fighting for human rights, fighting against injustice, trying to survive. Issues are complex, and none of us can fully understand the cultural bricks and mortar of the moral high ground. But still we have to make decisions about what’s right and wrong, good and bad, better and worse. How do we do that?
How do you choose your actions?
Years ago, when I was at a low point in my home life, I found myself fighting against my reality. I was doing what was required, but I was angry about it. I wanted the person I was living with to change, but I wasn’t prepared to change myself.
A wise old woman said to me, “Do it with love. Or don’t do it.” That simple advice became a measuring stick for my actions. There were times I was able midstream to shift my heart into love, and other times I simply had to stop what I was doing. But the choice gave me my integrity again. The split between my truth and my actions disappeared. And I knew what I had to do. The relationship did not survive, but I emerged intact.
So, on this day of celebration, I adapt her phrase:
“Labor with Love… or not at all.”
What is the measure of your contributions in your world?
Happy Labor Day!
And if you’d like to learn more about how to labor with love, check this out. Tomorrow I’ll begin a 12-part series on how to create a life you’ll love to live. Just 12 steps you can build on day by day. Get them all! Subscribe to blog post updates up there on your right by typing your email address in the box under Don’t miss a post. Get blog alerts!