Be Brother and Sister to one another

Shinrin-Yoku (Forest-bathing)
August 21, 2020
Sign of the Times
September 22, 2020

by Sr. Roselynn Humbert

Labor Day in 2020

I am writing this on Labor Day. A unique Labor Day on which there are no parades, picnics, or opportunities to experience together the history of this day. Labor Day is an outgrowth of the organized labor movement in the late 19th century.  When the first Labor Day was celebrated in New York in 1882, workers labored 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. The riots and strikes experienced as Labor Unions became stronger compare to what we are experiencing in the Black Lives Matter demonstrations we witness today.  Not until the Pullman Strike in 1884 brought the nation to a standstill were the rights of workers expanded. It was also in 1884 that President Grover Cleveland established Labor Day as a Federal Holiday celebrated on the first Monday of September.  The only reason the union movement for workers’ rights was successful is solidarity.  Even today most union members will not cross a picket line or patronize a business whose workers are on strike.

Recent history has shown that the fewer unionized workers there are, the more the top one percent of business leaders’ salaries increase. The pandemic we are experiencing shows us again how precarious the laborer’s position is in this country. Many have lost their jobs and don’t know if the positions they held will ever return.  Women have left the work force to stay home with children who are now learning on line. Congress cannot agree to continue to support those who are jobless because of the pandemic. Suspending evictions without giving the unemployed money for rent will end sometime with widespread evictions, homelessness, and the continued spread of the corona virus.

What does this mean to us as followers of Jesus? As followers of Francis? As brothers and sisters under one God?  The readings of September 6, 2020 Liturgy focus on loving your neighbor as yourself and fraternal connection. How can each of see what is happening to our neighbors and not feel concern? A homily I heard this weekend suggested we add another reading: the story of Caine and Abel.  When God asked Caine where Abel was his response was “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  That is correct. He is not his brother’s keeper; he is his brother’s brother. I am my sister’s sister. We are all in solidarity with one another as one family. I suggest we take the time this month to reflect on the dignity of labor, the rights of the laborer and how the time in which we live calls us to be brother and sister to one another.

Sister Roselynn Humbert

Sister Roselynn Humbert

Sister Roselynn Humbert is the Director of Volunteers for the Sisters of St. Francis. She is active in her parish, St. Pius X, and uses her artistic talents to lead card-making and scrapbooking classes for All Good Things Art & Gifts and to raise funds for Sylvania Franciscan Ministries.

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Maria Pacelli

Thank you for your timely blog. Sometimes we forget how much the unions helped workers out of terrible working conditions. Now more than ever we need to be brother and sister to each other.

Sr Brigid O'Shea Merriman

Thank you for sharing your reflection and writing gifts dear Roselynn. I very much appreciate your reflection: it spoke to me on many levels. Sent with my loving thoughts and prayers, Brigid

Thanks for the reminder of how good labor unions can and do help people and that I too must do so.