As we observe Labor Day that honors both the dignity and contribution of labor in our society we cannot help but be aware of the situation of so many workers in America.
In our Labor Day Statement the U.S. Bishops take note of the situation:
This Labor Day, our country continues to struggle with a broken economy that is not producing enough decent jobs. Millions of Americans suffer from unemployment, underemployment or are living in poverty as their basic needs too often go unmet. This represents a serious economic and moral failure for our nation. As people of faith, we are called to stand with those left behind, offer our solidarity, and join forces with “the least of these” to help meet their basic needs. We seek national economic renewal that places working people and their families at the center of economic life.
I am reminded of a story about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who asked a government official during the Great Depression, “are many people going hungry?” to which the official replied, “in general, people are not hungry.” The President quickly reminded him, “my friend, people don’t go hungry in general, hunger is a very particular thing.”
Statistics hide the human suffering they represent. Unemployment is a very particular thing, it is a father or a single mother who sees their family suffering; it is a new graduate with a large student loan who can only find a minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant; it is a family forced to move out of their home.
As individuals, as a Church, as a society we are obliged by the Gospel to offer individual help wherever possible. This Labor Day, let each of us reach out to assist someone, but also commit ourselves to work to see that these human problems are addressed at the local, state and national levels.