This past week, our local newspaper posted a question on Facebook related to defunding Obamacare. On Saturday, they printed some of the responses. This one (unedited) got my attention:
“I don’t use any government ‘services’ anyway. I found this wonderful thing I call self-responsibility. I highly suggest it.”
How remarkable! Here is a person who does not drive on streets and highways paid for by tax dollars, will let his house burn to the ground rather than call the government-run fire department, and would not call the tax-paid police force if he were the victim of crime. Probably did not attend the “government schools,” either. Must be a very lonely and difficult life.
Sarcasm aside, the reality is that surviving in any society without both helping others and depending upon others would be very difficult if not impossible. By living in a nation state, we enter into a social contract with our fellow citizens and share the responsibility of maintaining a reasonably civilized society for everyone.
Within that society, people have the freedom to organize. You might think that I am going to apply this to churches, but on this Labor Day I am reflecting on the labor movement in the United States. Labor unions have been guilty of abuse and deceit (like any other human entity) but the ability to organize and negotiate (and sometimes demand) benefits from employers has shaped our nation and improved conditions for millions of people.
Unions are not as significant or influential as they once were, but they made a difference in the lives of many workers and their families. My father was a member of a union. When I was growing up, the union would sometimes choose to strike—stop work--to get a better “deal” from the company. Those were not pleasant times in our home, but we understood that it was necessary in order to improve our circumstances.
On this Labor Day, I am grateful that we have the freedom to work alongside others, share the burdens of life, and make a better place for everyone. It is not always easy but it is not lonely.