The importance of labor
May 1 is Labor Day in many countries. It is a big day for workers. They hold big rallies all over the world on this day. This year May 1 is all quiet. Covid 19 has shut down all factories and has kept the workers at home. This does not mean though that workers no longer fight for the dignity of human work. On the contrary, because of Covid 19, the importance of human labor has been made clear to all.
In the popular mind, work is connected to, and even identified to, salary. Labor is important because for almost all, work brings wages by which workers and their families live. This is indeed true. So being of out of work now for 6 weeks, the family income suffers. This is especially true for the daily wage earners. No work, no pay. But this is also true for the regular workers. They are not sure whether there will still be work for them after the quarantine. Surely many will lose their jobs. How will they then support their families? This is a very big problem.
Work is important not only because of the wage connected with it. Work itself is important. Without work for a long time, people can go crazy. We are workers by nature. If we do not occupy ourselves, we suffer as persons. Work gives us dignity. It gives us energy. It gives us meaning. Those who have much responsibilities complain of too much work. Their dream is to be totally free from work. However, we should be forewarned. If this indeed happens, and we have been given a taste of it due to the prolonged lack down, we suffer much more. It is not heavenly to be sleeping the whole day, or to watch one movie after another for days, or to be glued to video games every day. This is not life!
The quarantine has also brought out clearly the importance of labor in our economy. The virus does not affect capital – the machineries, the materials, the money in the bank – they are intact. But capital is useless without labor. Everything comes to a halt because there are no workers to make the factories run, to man the businesses, to work in the offices. So, capital remains dead, useless. This is why we say that there is priority of labor over capital. Labor is more important than capital. In fact it is the work of human beings that makes capital grow. By itself capital is stagnant!
Labor Day is not externally celebrated this year. But no amount of rallies and shouts could bring out more clearly the importance of labor than Covid 19 does. The prolonged quarantine has made us realize the priority of labor and the laborers. Proper recognition and compensation should be given to them. By nature, the human person is a worker and his work does not only give him money. It gives meaning to his life and it makes the world economy run.
(Guest editorial by Bishop Broderick Pabillo)