Labor Day – once opposed by those who thought there were holidays enough in this world or who feared that the floodgates of revolution would surely be opened if such a holiday became a reality – has always symbolized the value and dignity of labor.

It has reminded us all that workers are more than units of energy and appendages to business and governmental operations, items to be purchased and discarded according to the rules of the marketplace and needs of the moment. Must it take a crisis to teach fundamental truths?

Today, in this period of national crisis, stemming from the coronavirus, we witness the nonstop profiles of countless and anonymous workers attending to, caring for, saving lives, risking their own and meeting our vital and fundamental needs. Such portraits of workers in these times reveal how fragile our lives and communities are, how inextricably laced together we are and provide added emphasis and meaning to the dignity and value of labor symbolized by Labor Day by shouting loudly of our common humanity.

Let this crisis be an immutable reminder that the delicate nature of the social fabric is woven together by countless and anonymous humans, who labor at different tasks and whose true value is not measured exclusively by market forces but by the awareness of the necessary and indispensable role labor plays in our collective identity and well being. Such idealism is the first step.

Charles Scontras

Cape Elizabeth

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