As we move further into the twenty-first century, I have come to the realization that many of us have forgotten where we came from. I would wager that many who are doctors, lawyers, elected officials and captains of industry came from humble means. Working class families – construction workers, maintenance people and factory workers, just to name a few. And many (oh so many) have turned on the very people who bore and raised them, clothed and fed them, put them through college and called them son or daughter. How do we end this cycle?
To solve any problem we first need to address the main cause and move from there towards a solution.
Much of the problem starts with us, the parents. Do we tell our children about what we do? Do we educate them on the struggles of those who have come before us? Those who had endured, bled and sometimes died so that the generations to come could have a better life than their parents had. Sadly, I don’t think so.
Many parents back in the seventies and eighties probably never thought there would be attacks on the people who build our country, that teach our children, or even those that protect us while we sleep. And that was our first mistake. Never underestimate the greed of those that have no conscience. Never think for a second that people won’t watch you suffer while they profit.
Something else that has put us in this predicament is that some of us in skilled labor put down our professions, expressing horror at the thought of our children following in our footsteps. This happens more often than we might want to admit and it has lasting consequences. We act as though working with our hands is something to be ashamed of, that it’s something to look down on. And we’re ok with that? I’m certainly not and you shouldn’t be either.
Now, to end the cycle.
We need to talk to our children. We have to tell them that those of us that work with their hands, those that earn their wages from the sweat of their brow, those that put themselves in danger to serve the public good, work in an office and teach our children are not expendable. That these people ought to be treated with the same respect and dignity we all want in life.
We should remind our kids that men, women and even children were degraded, abused, beaten, stabbed, shot and killed all in the name of a few very wealthy people who didn’t want to pay their fair share to raise this nation to its full potential. More importantly, that those who fought prevailed. They did not fight in vain. They won a lasting period where most had a fair shake. And this is what has been under attack. This is what is at stake.
The fight for all working people throughout the nation starts with us as workers, blue and white-collar alike. We need to erase the lines that divide us, realize that we all labor; we all scrape and scratch for a better life for our families. We must get past these superficial and petty differences or we will all fall. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
If we’re going to end this cycle now, we need to stand together, take pride in our work and teach our children that everyone has worth. Preserving our way of life starts at home.
Todd Farally | Sheet Metal Workers Local 19