United Church of Christ

Labor Day Reflection: Challenging False Narratives

Savior, Son of God, Peacemaker, born for the common benefit of all… Each of these titles and descriptions were used in reference to Roman Emperors. It could easily be said that the Christian faith arose amid the clash of diametrically opposed narratives. On the one hand, you had a mind-bending world of falsities in which what was professed by emperors was exactly the opposite of what they actually embodied. By living as he did, Jesus highlighted the sham of it all and embodied a different kind of “empire” or what became known as the Kingdom of God.

We again live in a mind-bending world of falsities. A common narrative is the environment-versus-jobs narrative which tells us that to be concerned about the environment is to be against workers and the jobs upon which they depend. Yet, this notion is patently false. As labor writer, Jeremy Brecher notes, “Efforts to reduce carbon emissions will create far more jobs than the fossil fuel industry has or could.”

There is a much different narrative that can be told today. It is narrative in which the voices of faith, labor, and environment become intertwined and united. Think about some of the common values that bind people together in seeking a more just and sustainable world. For instance, consider these words from Brecher:

The labor movement’s most essential value is solidarity. Summed up in the hallowed adage “An injury to one is an injury to all,” it’s the recognition that “looking out for number one” doesn’t work, that we will survive and prosper only if we look out for one another. Climate protection is the new solidarity: protecting our brothers and sisters as well as ourselves from destruction.  

Now consider this quote from in Ecclesiastes 4 which declares, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help."

If the narrative of the powerful seeks to divide, the counter-narrative from below binds us together. With solidarity, even an empire can fall. This Labor Day take the time to think about the kind of narrative that needs to be told and embodied today. 

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