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Introduction, Session 14: All Work Has Honor

In "Windows and Mirrors," a Tapestry of Faith program

I wear garments touched by hands from all over the world

35% cotton, 65% polyester, the journey begins in Central America

In the cotton fields of El Salvador

In a province soaked in blood,

Pesticide-sprayed workers toil in a broiling sun...

Third world women toil doing piece work to Sears specifications

For three dollars a day...

And I go to the Sears department store where I buy my blouse

On sale for 20% discount

Are my hands clean? — Bernice Reagon

Some Unitarian Universalists work in professional occupations, such as teacher, physician, attorney, engineer or social worker. Others work in factories; in service roles such as waiter, custodian or repair person; on farms; or at telephone or computer desk jobs. Still others may own their own businesses or earn a living in the arts. We all make choices about our jobs based on our interests, abilities, opportunities and needs.

Our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all people tells us everyone has the right to dignity of work—that is, the ability to earn a decent livelihood; a work environment that supports one's safety, health and self-respect; and appreciation for the value one's work brings to us all. Yet, as a society we tend to value some jobs more than others—even though we know that when a person's work is disrespected, undervalued or taken for granted, both they and their community suffer.

This session teaches the concept of dignity of work and makes children aware of their own work, whatever it consists of. They hear a story, "Beautiful Hands," about a child ashamed of her work-worn hands until a teacher articulates how her hands show the beauty of physical work. Children refine their understanding of dignity of work by examining and discussing photographs of children at labor. In Faith in Action, they engage in an advocacy project that promotes a fair minimum wage and universal dignity of work.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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