“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the LORD, not for human masters…” Colossians 3:23
Today is Labor Day and I wish everyone a day filled with whatever you enjoy as you take a rest from working. Labor Day is a day set aside as a Federal Holiday in 1894 and was created by the labor movement during the late 19th century. A time when the worker was required to work long, hard hours and child labor, using children as young as 5 and 6 years old, was common. Laborers of all ages would toil 12 hours for seven days barely making a living to support their families in the mills, factories, and mines. The working conditions were, in most cases unsafe and workers rarely had breaks let alone access to restrooms or even the ability to walk outside for a breath of fresh air.
Many people died and this prompted others to advocate for safe working conditions and at least one day off each week. Labor unions were formed and through the use of strikes and rallies, protested the poor conditions employers allowed their workers to endure changes began to happen. Pay was increased a living wage, hours were negotiated and days off were given. This was a very bleak era in history filled with violence and death as workers striving to support their families risked everything in order to fight for higher wages and safe working conditions.
It is ironic that all of this occurred in a country that was founded on religious freedoms and principles. In scripture, God commanded a day of rest even setting the example when God rested on the seventh day after all God’s creative work was accomplished. It is also well known the benefits of having time off from work. We all need it. We are able to reset our minds which allows us to be more productive when we go back to work after a weekend off or after we return from a vacation. We are able to maintain a work/life balance which is immensely healthy for everyone. Employers have realized their employees are more motivated and have an increase in productivity when they are well rested and have had the opportunity to do something different.
So, today, I hope you take some time to say a prayer for all those workers who took the risk to fight for the rights of workers throughout the world but especially in America. Thank them for fighting against the abuses of the employers and owners who used their workers until they died or had nothing left to give. Thank the congressmen who recognized the contribution workers made to our nation each and every day and chose to pass the act making Labor Day a legal holiday. Thank President Grover Cleveland for signing it into law. Their recognition of the workers in our nation, who at that time made many of the goods or offered the services that were used by the wealthy and upper middle classes, have given us a day off. A day we can spend with family and friends as we take a break from our labors.
Happy Labor Day!