Set Free The Oppressed

We are  observing a holiday in the USA. Labor Day. It’s a day set aside to remember the contributions of laboring people.

The concept and definition of “labor” changed dramatically over the course of the 20th century. The labor movement actually began in the mid-19th century. Originally the term referred to workers in manufacturing. These people were often almost slave labor for the factory owners. Various labor movements sprung up to organize workers. Much of the language used by unions today is derived from the early struggles.

By the end of the 20th century, engineers and managers, sometimes at the prodding of government regulators, had removed most of the hazards of working in plants. By the mid-20th century, factory workers could earn a middle-class income–although that changed beginning in the 1980s as relative wages plummeted due to many factors. But it’s still possible to earn a middle class income as a skilled technician and operator in a plant or factory today.

Management trends, such as the adoption of Lean which puts focus on the value of the individual, have also helped improve the situation for labor.

Oppression

Very early in the growth of manufacturing developed a “white hat” versus “black hat” mentality by people involved. Of course, who wore the “white” had and who the “black” depended on your point of view.

All this is not new, of course. Check out Isaiah 58–my current text for study and meditation.

God tells the people through Isaiah to set the oppressed free.

Is this not the fast (Spiritual Discipline) that I choose:

to loose the bonds of injustice,

to undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed to free,

and to break every yoke?

If you are a business owner or manager, you will find it morally, ethically and financially rewarding to treat all the people in the company fairly. Treat them as fellow human beings who are children of God.

Since I have worked both as labor and management, I have trouble with the “black hat” / “white hat” way of thinking. I most often think in shades of gray. Some people are more trustworthy than others; but all people are worthy of my respect to the degree that their character demands it. For me, it is not us versus them, but rather “we.”

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