It has been a while since I have been able to celebrate Labor Day (May Day). For me, the only place to celebrate it is in NYC. The celebration there consists of many groups that are protesting for their rights. Counter protesters are included.
For me, this May Day started with a visit to the Free University of NYC located in Cooper Square. I did not catch many of the talks but the one I did hear gave a simple but costly thought. The speaker, who seemed to be a local professor in the Social Sciences, stated that there should be a clinical diagnostic category for those who do not care about others. I'm afraid that if such were the case, then most of us would require therapy to one degree or another. And as idealistic as the thought appears to be, it is more than worthy of consideration.
The two most prominent groups at May Day were those protesting for immigrant rights and those protesting for labor rights. The concerns of both groups are not mutually exclusive because of how some businesses exploit immigrant labor. Most of those speaking for immigrant rights spoke with anger. The anger was over how families could be split up because of new immigration laws. In addition, the pay is low and working conditions for many immigrant workers are harsh. All of this leaves their families with little economic hope for the future. Their tempers were also short when immigrant gays talked about the life of fear they lead.
I commented to a friend that the people I am with the most would be turned off by the yelling. That is because the people I usually hang around with have obtained some level of a comfortable life and thus feel threatened when they hear these voices. They feel threatened because both the content of the messages and tone of these voices demand change. These angry voices might also be hitting a guilt nerve because if the system is unjust, these voices imply that the one group might have earned their dreams at the expense of the other.
We should mention that some in organized labor had their pre-march protest as they visited the offices of some "union busting" companies.
The group I hung around with was Occupy Guitarmy. I was vaguely familiar with this groups when I saw them meet last year at the Free University of NYC. Quite simply, they made the march fun. But more than fun, those from the Occupy Wall Street were there simply because they cared for people from other groups. They were there because they cared about immigrants, workers, gays, and war victims. They were there because they know who the perpetrator for the violations of all of these groups' rights is. It is the current system that we are required to bow down before to enter a lifestyle lottery. And that is the point of the May Day celebration/protest. It certainly was about speaking up for the rights of one's own group. But it was just as much about speaking up for the rights and even lives of others.
What May Day signifies is this, if enough people speak up for the rights and humanity of others, the system will be forced to begin to change. And the more people voice their convictions, eventually the more the system has to change. This is the only hope for a just peace in the world. And a just peace, rather than any "benevolent" domination, is the only hope we have if we are going to survive past tomorrow.