Thanksgiving Workers (written Nov. 21st, 2012)

I don’t really understand this hostility to people having to work on Thanksgiving for numerous reasons.  First we have very few holidays in this country compared to many other countries.  Businesses on average give less holiday time to their workers.  Studies show that this does not make us more productive.  A rested, lower stressed employee is one that actually works more efficiently.

More importantly though there seems to be some sort of implication that people who don’t want to work on Thanksgiving are lazy .  Isn’t it possible they don’t want to work on Thanksgiving because they would like one day where they can be with their family, to celebrate with a warm home cooked meal and be thankful for the blessings they have in life.  Doesn’t Thanksgiving have value as a holiday?  And what does it say about our society when we devalue a holiday?  Is it okay to tell those who work in the retail industry that our right to consume is more important than your right to have family values?  We’ve already over-commercialized Christmas, so should we say goodbye to Thanksgiving too?  There are other ways stores could compete for business than opening earlier and earlier every year.  Many workers may have believed when they took the job that they would get at least certain days off, it’s not realistic to expect them to just go get another job.  Shouldn’t corporations have a responsibility to respect the people’s values about tradition and family?  Should we let their desire for profit dictate what our values should be?

Let’s face it.  It’s not like retail is essential services.  Things could not be open on Thanksgiving and we’d get by quite easily.  The meme I’ve seen put up that tries to deride Wal-Mart workers for complaining simply because the military have to work through holidays to me is the most troubling.  It represents reasoning by false analogy.  First, I don’t want our military to work during holidays either, and I’m sure they don’t either.  They wish they could be with their families, just as I am sure their families wish they were there for the holidays.  If they truly are fighting for our freedoms should we as a society say that Thanksgiving doesn’t really matter so that when they do return home, the very values they served to protect are washed away by consumerism?  Perhaps more importantly if you wish to tell retail employees to stop complaining and work because the military do (as well as other emergency services, like police, nurses, firefighters, doctors, etc) do you plan on honoring those people in the same way.  As you claw your way through crowds to buy items you don’t really need were you planning on thanking that Wal-Mart employee for working on a holiday so you can get the items you want and save a little money?  I doubt anybody thanks them for their service.    Are retail employees for corporations some sort of low paid underclass who are only there to serve our needs as consumers?  It feels very much like that is the case.  The corporation is already disrespecting their values and so it hurts to see so many others disrespecting their values also.  And at what point can we start supporting them?  When stores open Thanksgiving at 6 pm?  4 pm?

There are more important things in this world than money and material goods.  And we have many days in the year to make money and spend it, so what’s wrong with keeping the spirit of a few days a year alive to celebrate friends, family, and have rest?

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