Deseret News Archives

Religions have their "sabbath." The secular world has "Labor Day."

Both are days for people to recuperate.

However, it might not be bad for the secular world to take a page from religious folks and their day of rest. Their day is not to be used simply as an escape — a day to flee the world. It was designed as a day for reflection and rejuvenation, a day to re-fortify the human spirit.

In other words, Labor Day is a good day to think about the debt owed to American workers — a day to think about the ingrained value of conscientious work.

Third World nations seldom take pride in physical labor. It's one reason they remain Third World. There, the idea is to get enough money to hire someone else to do the heavy lifting and the spade work. That's why so many buildings in the Third World are not up to snuff, why so many projects end up half-done or done poorly.

When there's no pride, there's no quality production.

That's where America differs.

Workers here are saluted for their efforts.

Not long ago, Jay Leno was taking questions from his audience. He asked one man what he did for a living.

"I do dry wall," the man said.

"Finally," Leno quipped. "A guy with a real job."

American workers take pride in their work. Welders will "sign" a weld they feel especially pleased with. Furniture movers take pride in hefting chairs and sofas that weigh almost as much as they do. Other Americans see that work ethic and not only respect it, they applaud it. Just as Japanese monks raking rocks in Zen gardens have shown, any task — no matter how menial or manual — can become a work of craftsmanship in the right hands.

An old Japanese saying runs, "Even street sweeping, when done well, can be a path to God."

In America, dutiful, conscientious labor is also often a path to success and fulfillment. From the president of the United States to the man at the controls of the backhoe, all Americans appreciate a well-built home, professionally poured concrete and a well-cared-for field of corn.

We honor such accomplishments.

And more than a day to head for the hills, Labor Day is the day to honor the men and women who produce those accomplishments.