It’s Labor Day 2020.
Of course, having the blessing to be alive now during a pandemic has us all looking at the world through the lense of that reality. So on this cool Friday morning with a hint of smoke in the air, this is what I attempt to do. Life is segmented now into BC Before Corona and AC After Corona.
Labor day is the day we use to commemorate and celebrate the contributions of our workers and validate the value of all work, big and small. I’m drawing on the juxtaposition of the pandemic and work simply because our focus on what is important work has been dramatically shifted. Societal norms raised to think that the office job is better than that of the janitor. We then think that the cashier or shelf stackers were people who just did not take school as seriously as they should have. That our bus drivers, doormen, and bag boys deserve a low income because those things aren’t important jobs in the grand scheme of things.
Then the novel coronavirus came to town for an unscheduled and prolonged visit.
We rush stores to bulk buy. We jump on the buses and vans at rush hour to get home. We begin to obsessively clean everywhere. We then realize that the shelf goes empty faster, the shopping lines get longer, the buses become more packed and everything that we touch can inevitably lead to us contracting the virus. Hopefully, we have recognized how incredibly important the labor of those who we have looked down upon are.
We also must have recognized the importance of solidarity during this time as my brothers and sisters of Cuba always have. That country and its people have so valiantly offered themselves to so many countries in the world in this biological war against the human race. A country that we have also treated just as we treat our janitors and cashiers. Cuba a country that has been lambasted with an embargo from a country that is now the global epicenter of this pandemic. The beautiful island nation, the most developed country in this hemisphere, has sent frontline workers, soldiers out charging forth to help us survive even as its embassy is being attacked on US soil. That’s as close to the perfect labor of love that we can get.
I never miss a chance to tell people that this pandemic is a humanization reset. It has reminded us of what is most important, of the most valuable things. It has forced of the reconfigure the mathematics of how we measure value on a whole. As we reimagine as a globe and march toward creating a world where decent work is a priority and is a indispensable tool to achieve true and meaningful sustainable development, we must take the lessons with us. Those lessons that has pounded “pan de mic” and in the ears of the status quo.
“Without labor nothing prospers.” – Sophocles