Labor Day was intended to provide a holiday to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers. It was envisioned as an annual national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country. And the connection to Labor Unions and the rise of the labor movement is equally celebrated.
Labor and people work…right?
But what is the concept of work? Is Labor Day a recognition or equally a celebration of the concept of work? Is it something people do to support themselves, others, or the community; is it physical work done by humans; maybe it’s a product of force and displacement; or maybe it’s a manifestation of creative effort (a work of Art); and what about school work (homework)!?
Stay with me…Is work good or bad?
It seems the “goodness” of work is deep in our culture. We applaud people for their work ethic, judge our economy by its productivity, and even honor work with a national holiday. Psychologists will identify six main reasons people work: play, purpose, potential, emotional pressure, economic pressure, and inertia. It's not just compensation or performance, its motivation itself.
So, is Labor Day a celebration of work…maybe!
And that’s not a bad thing or concept. It does take hard work to succeed in college, in a business, in relationships, career advancement, financial security, and these days staying healthy (COVID). Therefore, I’d like us to consider this Labor Day as more than just a day off, the end of summer, start of the school year, or a celebration of a recognized holiday for labor. I think instead it should be a celebration of our hard work we do on a regular and daily basis and frames a great deal of our everyday existence and purpose. In this context, the hard work we do as students, professors, police officers, store clerks, doctors, nurses, scientists, moms and dads and more matters and makes a difference and carries rewards.
What I am really saying if we think of Labor Day in this sense, we all deserve a pat on the back and a job well done from our neighbors, friends and families. Battling COVID has been hard work and has entailed sacrifices, setbacks and heartaches. And despite it all students, faculty and staff here at UIS are back to work. Like many citizens across the city, county and state. We are making another school year happen as best we can.
This Labor Day give yourself a high five or fist bump to say job well done…or maybe a “good work!”
Best wishes for a healthy safe and productive semester and year!
Happy Labor Day,
Dean Robert W. Smith
College of Public Affairs and Administration