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In Labour?

Labour Day – we still celebrate it, that fight our great grandparents won for the eight hour working day.  I thought it odd yesterday though, that it seems to have mostly eroded, and many of us apparently now work almost constantly on one or more of our shiny new mobile gadgets.  Defeated by technology, Great Granddad!  You wouldn’t have seen it coming, of course.  Imagine if you dropped back in today for a visit – what would you think?

I expect you would think we have a pretty cushy life.  That most of us don’t actually ‘work’ at all.  Not like you and Great Grandma did.  There’s not many physical jobs left – either at work or at home.  Machines do most of it.  So to keep fit, we pay to join the gym or something similar.  Then we have to fit that in outside of work of course!  I think you would also think we don’t spend much ‘family’ time.  Most of us sit around looking at screens, rather than talking to each other.  We’re rushing here, there and everywhere.  Some spend more time with friends on Facebook than in their actual company.  In your day, the family would gather around the piano, someone would pick out a tune and you’d all sing.   Or you would read aloud, taking turns and sharing the enjoyment of the story.  Then there were the family sessions, gathered around the radio, either being entertained or catching up on the news.

You’d also probably think that we don’t have much sense of community.  In your day everyone would actually rest  on Sunday, not keep working, and meet at the local church.  There’d be shared lunches after the service, more piano playing and singing.  People really helped each other and genuinely knew their neighbours.  On days off paid work, you worked hard around your own home, or helping the neighbours with theirs.

So I wonder how many people actually took a break on Labour day this year?  And how many still cleared email, or caught up on work.  Here’s some suggestions for how we could celebrate Labour Day in future:

  • Make it a technology free day and spend it with people
  • Have an extended family or neighbourhood gathering and find someone who can play the piano so you can have a sing-a-long
  • Get a group of friends or family together and donate your day to charity or to a neighbour who needs help

Celebrating Labour Day in one of these ways might better honour our ancestors who fought hard for the forty hour working week.  Switching off the technology regularly and giving our time and attention to our friends and family wouldn’t hurt either.


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