2015

Labor Day

On September 7, we, in the United States of America, will be celebrating Labor Day. The majority of countries in the world celebrate this event in early May. For us, it marks the end of summer. For the rest of the world it marks the beginning of spring. We are like that: different, unconventional, and arrogant? It is the same when the majority of countries on our planet go by the Metric System of distances, for instance, Meters and Kilometers, whereas we go by the Imperial System, i.e. Miles, which was used by the British and who then let go of it in the 70’s preferring to go Metric! Go figure! Also, the rest of the world goes by Centigrade temperatures. We go by Fahrenheit, which makes us, again, inconsistent with the rest of the world. As another example, most of the world goes by Grams and Kilograms, while we go by Pounds and Ounces! I still cannot get used to that one and always ask the nurses at my doctor’s offices to adjust the scale readings in order to get my weight in kilograms. The whole planet says Football; we decided to call this international game Soccer! Not only that, at one time we also wanted the Football Federation to change some of the rules of the game to suit us and to change the size of the field, which they refused to do! Ah, America!

On the other hand, the Brits and some of their previous colonies still drive on the left, which totally behooves me! We, and the rest of the world, drive on the right. Occasionally – very occasionally! – we do seem to walk in tandem with the rest of the world!

Diversion of an old brain being over, let’s go back to Labor Day: It is a day to celebrate and acknowledge the labor and laborers of the world. I appreciate our world’s doing this and pausing, even for a moment, to recognize that without the sweat, the efforts and the hard work of most labor in this world our fruits and vegetables would rot; there would be no construction and, therefore, no civilization as we know it; no factories and all the products they produce; no nothing really!

I once read about a very touching idea that a woman practices, and that may apply to all of us who have a home helper (some still say “maid,” which I hope they will refrain from using), especially a live-in one, a cleaning lady, or an au pair, or a nanny, the driver, the gardener etc. etc. and, other than giving them the day off when possible, she hands them a card, a little gift, chocolates or something while thanking them for the labors that they provide for her. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we all did that?

If I happen to be at the grocery store or at the mall that day, I wish the clerks and salespeople a Happy Labor Day; although they are working (and hopefully being paid double!) I can still acknowledge their efforts by saying something pleasant.

I do that to anyone I come across who is laboring for me, for you, for us, for society: nurses, teachers, house painters, plumbers, electricians, garbage collectors, postmen (and women) and on and on. The positive collective effect of these little acts of kindness and pleasant greetings is tremendous! In our turbulent, chaotic, ungrateful, warring and belligerent world they go a long way!

For me, there are other categories of Labor that, sadly, no one acknowledges on Labor Day; groups of under classes that are below the grid, unseen and unheard. Their miserable existence deserves as much acknowledgement as the regular hard-working laborers that we come across every day.

The majority of those laborers – and they are estimated to be between 20 and 36 million across the world, because there is no way of finding the correct count – are the modern-day slaves. And while it is a fact that humanity has historically associated slaves and slavery with Black people who were originally kidnapped from Africa and then bought, sold, trafficked and traded throughout the White Western World and its Colonies, the modern-day slaves could be from Any Place: kidnapped white girls from the US and Europe; Asians, Indians, East Europeans, Malaysians, Africans and from all ethnicities.

Amongst them are young girls and boys (some barely six for the American, European, Arab and other perverts who want to have sick perverted sex with that age group); they are teenagers and they are whatever young age the “market” demands for its sexual exploitation purposes. It is shameful! It is disgusting! It proves to me, once again, that we cannot call ourselves civilized while there are those amongst us who still indulge in this abhorrent behavior! It is infuriating!

There are other modern-day slaves also: they are the bought brides (catalogue brides, some call them) who end up mostly as house slaves and sex objects for their owners. They number in the thousands!

There are slave children kidnapped and sold for the extraction of their organs – mostly kidneys – and the siphoning off of their young rejuvenating blood Some Arabs and Israelis have indulged in these terrible, horrible crimes!

Then there are the bonded slave-laborers – apparently, the Gulf States are the most notorious exploiters of these hapless humans. The process for this is that there is a “coyote” (trafficker in humans) who could be a person, a few persons or shady companies that offer the indigent person a job in the Gulf (or elsewhere) for which they have to pay thousands of dollars. They spend Years – yes, Many Years – trying to pay off that bond, this after selling everything that they own in order to pay the initial fee, and before they make any earnings whatsoever. Some of them commit suicide, some die from the horrible accommodations and meager nourishment at which time their loved ones back home are told that their demise was an “accident!” Heart-wrenching stories!

Also, there are the Mules, those unfortunate – mainly young boys – who are terrorized by the drug lords and cartels into transferring drugs mainly across the Mexican-US border and the Canadian-US border and who end up dying, incarcerated, raped and/or become drug addicts themselves! Our insatiable appetite for recreational and other drugs causes this! Despicable!

Child soldiers (girls are about 20% of those) are another class of modern-day slavery. According to UNICEF and other world organizations there are about 300,000.00 of these children in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. What barbarism and savagery this is!

Lastly, there are two kinds of up-scale slave labor that I think of on Labor Day:

The first of those are the educated, well-off middle and upper class members of society who are in jobs where they KNOW – yes, KNOW! – that bad things (illegal, immoral, criminal) are happening and who do not say anything, or resign and leave, because their pay-check is more important to them than their morals, their conscience, and the “right thing to do.” Some of them can be found throughout our political system, in pharmaceutical companies, food corporations, and high-tech companies, mainstream media bureaus, in the medical and dental professions and on and on! These despicable slaves are the worst of the worst, for they were not kidnapped, bought, sold, terrorized or anything horrendous like that. To the contrary, it is they who have voluntarily and knowingly sold themselves and their souls! And, unlike the other slaves, they do have an exit option that they do not choose to exercise. Absolutely shameful!

The second kind are the “chilled” slaves: those educated, well off men and women who live in a seemingly civilized society, but where their government surveillance is so subversive, so terrifying, so draconian that they are scared stiff of participating in political or religious discussions or approaching any other subject that could/might/perhaps put them in any jeopardy with their rulers for fear that the proverbial “men in dark suits” i.e. the secret service blokes will come and whisk them off never to be heard from again! Fear maintains the cruel grip of their governments on these slaves-of-other-kinds. Warning: If we, in the US and the West, continue on the surveillance path we are on, we might, very soon, be living under those same chilling conditions.

I believe that the United States and Europe, both of whom built their wealth and civilizations on slave labor, could have contributed to ending some of this appalling modern-day slavery. However, and to the contrary, they have caused it to blossom and swell with the constant wars that are uprooting innocent populations and shaking the very social foundations through which these societies have maintained their existence. Moreover, our contemptible speeches regarding “immigrants” aside, we know that we cannot survive without the hard work they do for us in our Western countries, and for our corporations overseas. Justice demands that we, at the very least, treat them with dignity, compassion and pay them fair wages and refrain from threatening them with deportations and walls and idiotic solutions like these. And, unless all of us recognize that and speak out against it, then it will continue unabated. Meanwhile, since we cannot individually do much in this regard, we need to, at least, be aware that it is occurring. Moreover, we need to raise our collective voices and our support for all the struggles for justice, respect and freedom that are occurring on our planet: for the Palestinian people and the Israeli-enslaved human beings of Palestine and Gaza, for our Black brothers and sisters in the US still struggling against the mindset of a slave culture, for the immigrant populations fleeing wars and circumstances that the US and the Western World have created with their past, and still ongoing, colonialism, to the victims of rape and abuse, to the unjustly jailed and to any and all causes that are enslaving fellow humans.

We also need to teach our children, educate our relatives and neighbors and anyone we come across that the days of any form of slavery whatsoever are over, and that we begin with ourselves and with not following any political, social or religious ideology that turns us into slaves. We should not be slaves to our spouses, or our community, to any religion, or to any political leadership. Our freedom and emancipation from any form of slavery begins with each of us individually. It is a precious right that we should fight for and never compromise.

Enjoy your Labor Day Freedoms and “If you see something, say something!”* Otherwise, you are just another pathetic ignorant slave!

*Slogan borrowed from the US Department of Homeland Security. They were targeting Terrorism. I took the liberty of adjusting that to talking about Wrong-Doings!

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2 thoughts on “Labor Day”

  1. I love how you appropriated the line “If you see something, say something” to make the world a better place. What a beautiful, positive outlook you always share. I wish the majority were as compassionate as you. Sadly, compassion is a rare commodity these days …. A wonderful read as always Hala.

  2. Another brilliant reflection on our times.
    Thank you for contributing so richly to the needed discourse on human (and earth) rights. And so eloquently written.

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