In Praise of Decency and Hard Work

In the United States, this long weekend is Labor Day Weekend, a time to honor those who, well, labor. In the United States, many people work extremely hard, and hats off to them for all that they do to keep this country running—the teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, librarians, shop workers, volunteers, those who work at home, the caregivers. I could go on and on and have left many out.ย  For those at the very top who sponge so much out of society, I hope they appreciate the hard work that keeps them in place. (Snarky, I know, but appropriate for this time of widening inequality in the United States.)

Labor Day weekend is also a time when we bid a bittersweet farewell to summer. Yes, autumn is lovely, and there is much to look forward to, but barbecues and patio time are coming to an end.

Accordingly, we invited our friends Judy and Paul over for a barbecue on Saturday. Judy is a pie maker extraordinaire, and she brought over a raspberry pie for dessert. I nearly jumped for joy when I saw the pie because although I’m keen on all kinds of berries, raspberries are my favorite. As my 60th birthday is coming right up, I immediately proclaimed that this pie was a birthday pie. What then could Judy do but leave the leftovers with us? However, as she told me that she had two peach pies at home, I figured I was, in fact, doing Judy a favor by keeping the leftover raspberry pie. Or so I tell myself.

For the main meal we had potato salad made with sour cream and turkey bacon; chicken breasts marinated in a lemon, garlic, olive-oilย  mixture and brushed with a mustard sauce; and corn drizzled with brown butter. Farewell, farewell sweet summer.

Over dinner, one of the topics that came up was the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas. So many stories of brave, selfless people helping each other without regard for income, skin color, or ethnicity. Pets were rescued, too, which I found particularly cheering.

For the past week, I had been thinking about the heroism in Texas and about how people really do pull together during catastrophes. Now, if we could just do the same thing when there isn’t a catastrophe, in everyday life.

I mentioned this to Paul and Judy.

“Everyday life is hard,” Judy said.

So it is. Most of us can rise to the occasion and be our better selves during a flood or an ice storm or a tornado. But when things settle down, self interest, pettiness, and even greed too often kick in. While we all need to take care of ourselves and our families, it is very easy to cross the line to selfishness, begrudging others what we think we should have as a matter of course. In short, we have trouble being consistently decent to each other.

Decency, a humble concept, is hard work, something that must be continually applied not only to other people but also to how we treat animals, the earth, the water, the air.

Somehow, thinking about hard work and decency seems appropriate for Labor Day Weekend.


28 thoughts on “In Praise of Decency and Hard Work”

  1. Most people work hard, they have little choice in the matter. Decency is not too hard to find, though I think the higher up in society you go, there rarer it becomes. Happy Labor Day!

  2. Amen. If there was one good thing that came out of all that devastation in Houston, it was the many people who helped their fellow man. It seemed like people did what they could with the tools they had and just treated others like they’d want to be treated. The bright light of decency was hard to miss. ๐Ÿ™‚ Your dinner looked delicious, and I totally understand how that pie had your name on it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Happy Labour Day Laurie, the food looked like the finest kind of food for such a special day. I echo your thoughts about Houston and the many acts of kindness shown to help save humans and animals alike ๐Ÿ’œ xxx

  4. Happy Labor Day! This was a very thoughtful post. I haven’t paid much attention to the news, so it is encouraging to hear that people pulled together to help one another. The pie sounded wonderful, although I don’t favor raspberries so much as peaches. Peach is my favorite and I’ve eaten my fair share this summer๐Ÿ‘.

    1. Thanks, Robin. Peaches are grand, too. Unfortunately, my husband is allergic to them, so no peach pie.

    2. Your poor husband. They are arguably my favorite fruit. My husband is allergic (or sensitive) to peach skin – it affects things in his throat and he loses his voice. If we peel them, he can eat them.

  5. Happy Labor Day! I agree with you completely ..when there is a crisis ordinary people behave with compassion & kindness … We have often seen this in Australia during bushfires .. My best wishes go to those caught in the hurricane in Texas.

  6. I have had all kinds of jobs in my life–a full spectrum from mind-numbing low-paying grunt work to an intellectually challenging, high-paying career. I’ve often thought that we have the pay system backwards and that the really disagreeable, boring, dirty jobs should pay the highest, while those that are stimulating and enjoyable should be lower paid because they provide the compensation of having work that you really enjoy! Lately, in dealing with my mother’s declining health, I’ve been around a lot of home health care workers. The work that they do in caring for the elderly (child care workers too) is so grossly under valued that it’s depressing. In any case, I hope the true spirit of Labor Day is never forgotten. And that pie looks delicious.

    1. Yes, yes! It is so depressing that the work is undervalued. Who makes these rules, anyway?

  7. I love your ploy with the raspberry pie. I don’t blame you a bit. Seeing Amish families reclaim some of our local farms is a study in hard work. In our country we value different types of work in almost a competitive way, Perhaps the biggest judge is how much hard work brings a person satisfaction and joy.

    1. So true! And those who work the hardest for the lowest pay are so often not given their due.

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