Since the late 19th Century, the first Monday of September each year has been set aside as a way of honoring American workers. While its history is tied to labor unions and workers’ rights, in more recent years the holiday has taken on a less of a political charge. For many of us, it has simply become synonymous with an unofficial “end of summer” or a day off to spend time with family.
Hindu sacred texts like the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads remind us that one who sees with eyes of wisdom, recognizes an inherent oneness (ekatva) running through all beings. The same life that flows through me, flows through you. The same dignity that is my birthright is yours. The spark of Divinity by which I exist resides in you as well. We are inextricably connected to one another.
With this paradigm of radical interconnectedness, we might return to Labor Day. We can choose to see this holiday as an invitation to appreciate that which binds us all to one another. We are all recipients of gifts; we subsist and thrive on the work of others. This unusual year, we might especially take the opportunity to reflect on those who are working hard in these trying times — particularly essential workers and healthcare professionals. We remember their efforts and self-sacrifice and send them our prayers and blessings. By reflecting in this way, we cultivate a mood of gratitude (kritijnata) and loving kindness (maitra). Our capacity for wisdom grows, our vision expands, and our hearts soften.