“It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today. The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans. The cornerstones of the middle-class security all bear the union label.” Pres Barack Obama
History of the Holidays: Labor Day
The first Labor Day parade was held in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, organized by machinist Mathew Maguire. Twenty thousand workers paraded up Broadway with banners that read “Labor Creates All Wealth,” and “Eight Hours for Work; Eight hours for Rest; Eight Hours for Recreation!” This was more of a festival than a demonstration. It was a celebration with picnics and fireworks. It was also an idea that quickly captured the interest of the nation and spread from coast to coast. READ: Our Labor Day: The Real Meaning of the Labor Day Holiday By John Shepler
What does Labor Day mean to you? Years ago, the world of work was brutal and often short. There were no laws to guide our movement from one dingy workplace to the death trap of another. Work hours were long, pay was little, and those with an entrepreneurial spirit could embark on any kind of business, create atrocious workplaces and conditions, and offer little or no recourse for those they hired to work for them. Add to that, the common practice of child labor which was often unpaid, and you might begin to understand the power of the labor movement that turned life around for middle and working class folks. It was the effort of men like Matthew Maguire and Peter J. McGuire who forced the hand of our government to take this matter seriously and nail the coffin shut on abuse and inhumane work practices. The death of some workers/protesters during the Pullman Strike, in 1894, led to increased pressure from workers and eventually led to Labor Day being declared a National Holiday with a unanimous vote by Congress; then sitting US President, Grover Cleveland, signed off on it and the movement never looked back.
Even though the President signed on in 1894, it is important to remember that the first Labor Day Parade was held in NYC in 1882 to honor and celebrate the efforts of all the hardworking men and women who put their lives on the line every day to ensure that their families had food to eat and a roof over their heads. When I think of this day, it is one we should all honor because the motivation to work remains the same today. What motivates you to go to work and earn a living? The answer is very clear for millions of people around the world, and yet, many have stood by and watched the erosion of the labor movement take place. It is not by accident that we have “The 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and retirement plans.” All have been fought for by those who believed that without proper compensation, people would be working for nothing and change will not take place. In tandem with labor laws are literacy laws because an uneducated populace cannot progress fully.
A Story: From Poverty to Progress
My paternal grandmother raised my dad alone after her husband died suddenly of a heart attack. They were poor farmers, in a West African village, who saw the arrival of Missionaries at the turn of the 20th Century. When her hubby passed away, My Grandma sent her youngest son to the only school in a nearby village. It was a Missionary school that educated a handful of boys, sent by bold parents, in a fractious climate that didn’t encourage education as a way out of poverty. Many locals were against the missionaries who were determined to force people to abandon traditional practices and Ancestral worship for a new Christian order. Village leaders were also against the imposition of tax levies on communities that were barely eking out a living to support their families. So you can imagine that, in such a tense climate of imminent and eventual change, education was not available to all or even considered a road out of poverty. My Grandma, out of desperation to support her family, took a chance and my dad received an education that led him down the path to entering the world of Accountancy, Banking and eventually Government. We can never dismiss the power of a focused mind in creating change.
Education is a fundamental right and the basis for progress in every country. Parents need information about health and nutrition if they are to give their children the start in life they deserve. Prosperous countries depend on skilled and educated workers…” Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General
— Women Deliver (@WomenDeliver) September 4, 2015
The theme of International Literacy Day 2015 is Literacy and Sustainable Societies. Literacy is a key driver for sustainable development. Literacy skills are the prerequisite for the learning of a broader set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values, required for creating sustainable societies. At the same time, progress in areas of sustainable development, such as health and agriculture, serves as an enabling factor in the promotion of literacy and literate environments. Literacy Day – UNESCO.Org
What does International Literacy Day mean to you? September 8th is the UNESCO designated date for us to recognize the importance of literacy around the round. It was initiated in 1965 and celebrated first in 1966. “Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.” When we think of literacy, we must remember the correlation between labor and literacy. In every society, education is/can be a catalyst for change and sustainable development. Did you know that there are 781 million illiterate adults in the world? Did you know that of the almost 800 million illiterate people in the world, 496 million of them are women? When we consider the staggering statistics on literacy figures globally, we can better understand the role lack of education plays in the lack of substantive work available to many people around the world. The lack of work creates poverty globally. This year, the theme for International Literacy Day 2015 is Literacy and Sustainable Societies. Why is this important? Imagine all the ways that an educated populace can effect change and pull others up from poverty. Developing adult and child literacy programs are imperative to overall development in every country. READ: ProLiteracy.org:TOOLKIT 2015
A Story: How Literacy Impacts Understanding
A martial artist knelt before his master sensei in a ceremony to receive the hard-earned Black Belt. After years of relentless training, the student has finally reached a pinnacle of achievement in the discipline.
“Before granting you the belt, you must pass one more test,” the sensei solemnly tells the young man.
“I’m ready,” responds the student, expecting perhaps one more round of sparring.
“You must answer the essential question, ‘What is the true meaning of the Black Belt?’”
“Why, the end of my journey,” says the student. “A well-deserved reward for all of my hard work.”
The master waits for more. Clearly, he is not satisfied. The sensei finally speaks: “You are not ready for the Black Belt. Return in one year.”
As the student kneels before his master a year later, he is again asked the question, “What is the true
meaning of the Black Belt?” “A symbol of distinction and the highest achievement in our art,” the young man responds.
Again the master waits for more. Still unsatisfied, he says once more: “You are not ready for the Black
Belt. Return in one year.” A year later the student kneels before his sensei and hears the question, “What is the true meaning of the
This time he answers, “The Black Belt represents not the end, but the beginning,the start of a never-ending journey of discipline, work and the pursuit of an ever-higher standard.” “Yes,” says the master. “You are now ready to receive the Black Belt and begin your work.” Zen Stories via Read.Goodweb
The details for Motivation Mondays are below. Join in! The themes for August and September are:
08/03 – TIME
08/10 – CONTROL
08/17 – PURPOSE
08/24 – FAILURE
08/31 – HOPE
09/07 – LABOR & LITERACY
09/14 – POSITIVE THINKING
09/21 – PEACE/INTERNATIONAL PEACE
09/28 – GOOD NEIGHBORS/GOODWILL
…”The challenges of conquering poverty, combating climate change and achieving truly sustainable development in the coming decades compel us to work together. With partnership, leadership and wise investments in education, we can transform individual lives, national economies and our world.” Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General
New technologies, including mobile telephones, also offer fresh opportunities for literacy for all. We must invest more, and I appeal to all Members States and all our partners to redouble our efforts – political and financial – to ensure that literacy is fully recognized as one of the most powerful accelerators of sustainable development. The future starts with the alphabet. UNESCO, Director-General
In a UNESCO paper Sustainable Development Begins With Education (see full title below), the authors point out several ways that education contributes to poverty reduction: 1)Education enables those in paid formal employment to earn higher wages. 2) Education also offers better livelihoods for those in the non-formal sector. 3)Education boosts the income of farmers. 4)Education is critical to escape chronic poverty. 5)Education prevents the transmission of poverty between generations. Education also leads to better nutritional health choices, reduction in childbirth mishaps and exposure to disease, gender equity and empowerment, economic growth and job choices and overall well-being of people in a community. Without literacy efforts and sustainable goals in place, a community will be unable to adequately sustain itself and the incidences of chronic poverty will remain high. So for this Motivation Monday post, I encourage you to think long and hard about your own literacy goals and what you wish to pass on to your progeny. While some can and do achieve success with minimal education, it is not the norm. The majority of us, in order to gain employment in an ever changing economic landscape, must develop new skills and get the requisite education to stay motivated and to achieve our dreams. Where are you on your labor and literacy chart?
Read: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT BEGINS WITH EDUCATION: How education can contribute to the proposed post-2015 goals United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Positive Motivation Tip: Labor and Literacy are twins on our journey to a fulfilling work life. Seek both and grow.
Motivation Mondays is open to anyone who wishes to share a motivational quote, photo, personal challenge or a post that encourages others to start the week on an upbeat note.
Basic Instructions: Each week, I will have a motivation word to help us create a response. (See listed words for the months above/below)
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