not all those who wander are lost

“Transcending,” a collaboration of artists David Barr and Sergio De Giusti – centered by a monumental 63-foot steel arch.

This is a stunning piece of work, that achieves one of the most powerful collective statements on Labor I have ever seen. And what more appropriate place, than downtown Detroit’s business district. In the shadow of General Motors World Headquarters and near the foot of the UAW-Ford National Programs Center. Near the place where travelers on the Underground Railroad departed to Canada. On banks once ruled by Chief Pontiac.

And the epicenter of an epic battle……….. where the Middle Class and Labor in the United States of America died.

From the panels of marble on this monument, the voices of history scream out in desperate warnings to people in current times. These are angry, outraged voices – and the folks who uttered these words who have passed on must be sleeping very uneasily in their graves knowing what we have allowed to happen.

Some of these voices are still with us, and they are still begging us to listen.

“What is wanted by the ruling circle, is a docile, spineless, unorganized and inarticulate army of workers”

-Nelson Mandela

“The future of Labor is the future of America”

If that statement is true, you can pretty much put a fork in both of ’em…

“We make our own history”.

This is probably my harshest criticism of what has happened in recent history with Labor – nobody has the guts to stand up and secure their rights. Rights that our grand mothers and fathers and great grandmothers and fathers fought and bled and sometimes died for. Everybody is too sacred. So we all keep moving closer and closer to the base of Maslowe’s Triangle, trying to clutch on to whatever crumbs they give us.

The unions are making their own history alright, and they are also carving their own epitaph.

Died of Complacency

This statement says what so many people refuse to understand: when a teacher is striking and defending their rights, this is synonymous with protecting and providing for the proper education of the child. Period.

Attack the public school teacher, and you are attacking the defender of your child’s Civil Rights.

It is essential to remind ourselves, Martin King was assassinated while he was working with sanitation workers on a labor action. Because the union is what provides and protects democracy and civil rights in the workplace.

And to that add

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves the much higher compensation.”

— Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union message, 1861

And I would add to that, I am sick of the government referring to citizens of the United States simply as “consumers”. As if we were just some sort of septic bacteria element within a giant economic landscape.

A distant warning from the 1930’s Great Depression to the early 2000’s Great Depression.

A bank can cause more horror to a farm, family or community with a pen stroke than a thief can with a gun in your back.

I do not think anybody can sum it up better than that.

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