“Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work.” —Exodus 20:9
This is the core part of the fourth commandment. We are commanded to rest, repose, cease, celebrate on the seventh day. But rest from what? Celebrate what? Six days of labor. The commandment says God set the pattern. The 11th verse says God completed creation in six days and rested the seventh. “Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” It is clear the only reason the Sabbath is blessed and hallowed is because of six days of completed work—good work.
Take note of what God thought of His work. “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31) It is clear that, when we set out on a week’s work, we should complete something—something good.
This concept is not about government or business doing their part. The commandment doesn’t say, “Work if you can find a job.” It implies we are each our own employer. It is up to us to see the work; commit to the work; do the work; celebrate the work.
Let each American learn the importance —the profound intrinsic value—of labor. Perhaps there is no better teacher on this core value than Booker T. Washington who gained the insight at the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute of Virginia, a school for former slaves.
“For the first time, “I learned what education was expected to do for an individual. Before going there I had a good deal of the then rather prevalent idea among our people that to secure an education meant to have a good, easy time, free from all necessity for manual labour. At Hampton I not only learned that it was not a disgrace to labour, but learned to love labour, not alone for its financial value, but for labour’s own sake and for the independence and self-reliance which the ability to do something which the world wants done brings. At that institution I got my first taste of what it meant to live a life of unselfishness, my first knowledge of the fact that the happiest individuals are those who do the most to make others useful and happy.”
Let us, as we restore America, learn to love labor for labor’s own sake. Let us set a new course this Labor Day, September 3, 2012—a course to fully restore every American’s right to work. Let the new course effectively encourage every able bodied man, woman and teen in America to, upon rising (six days a week), set upon a day of productive work. Let us begin today to restore an America that honors productive work and the men and women who build for themselves through their honest labor. They are the makers of our country. Let this be our new Labor Day motto: