Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Samuel Gompers: What We Want
“The wage slaves need more,” said the great labor leader Samuel Gompers. “What does labor want? We want more—school houses and less jails, more books and less crime, more leisure and less greed, more justice and less revenge—in fact, more opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, and womanhood more beautiful, and childhood more happy and bright.” He was ahead of his time. He went on to say, “What do labor, community justice advocates and environmentalists want today? We want less inequality and more dignified work that contribute to the greater good and is safe from toxins and hazards. We want the material basis of economic prosperity and the ecological bounty required to thrive—clean water and air, fertile soil and wholesome food. We want our children to flourish, their bodies to grow strong and healthy, with full voices and laughter. We want our elders to be honored and treasured. We want vibrant communities of art, creativity, song and learning. We want less toil and more rest. We want the weekend and a few more weekdays to delight in one another and care for the young, the old, and those in need. We want time to care for the earth, to be generous stewards and protectors of the commons, passing it on undiminished to future generations.” This is not unreasonable to want and if this could come to pass worldwide for all people we could stop wars, produce food for everyone, save the planet, and create jobs for all that want a job. This is what more would do and what it means.