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While the US celebrates Labor Day to celebrate and honor the working class, much of the world celebrates International Workers’ Day on May 1, also known as May Day. Around the world, people pause to remember all the hard and unglamorous work that laborers do to make life livable for everyone. From domestic workers to factory workers and every physically demanding job in between, laborers have pushed for increased rights and protection so that they can work in safe environments and be compensated properly for their diligent work. Here are some quotes about hard work and solidarity for May Day to help us remember how important laborers are and the importance of laborers to our economy and lives. 

“When spiders unite, they can tie down a lion.” —Ethiopian Proverb

Doug Hawxhurst May Day 2-min

The nation of Ethiopia is among the strongest in all of Africa. During the great Scramble for Africa in the latter half of the 1800s, Ethiopia was able to stand steadfast against colonizers and remain independent when much of the rest of Africa fell. Internally, the people of Ethiopia accredited their success to unity, heart, and the value they put on bringing up children to be members of a community. This saying simply codifies one of their people’s underlying values — lots of people working together towards a common goal can topple anything.

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” – Sam Ewing

Doug Hawxhurst May Day 3

One of the main reasons we celebrate May Day as a planet is to honor the people who do work that many of us don’t want to do. From miners to sanitation workers, there’s lots of work to be done in a functional society that isn’t fun or pretty. However, the people who take a deep breath and do the work others aren’t willing to do have incredible heart and character, arguably more so than those who look upon such work with condescension or those who choose unemployment over such a “dirty job.” Hence, the day to thank and celebrate the character of our society’s hardest workers.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” —Henry Ford

Doug Hawxhurst May Day 1-min

The integral American entrepreneur and innovator Henry Ford changed the landscape of the US forever — literally. Not only did he develop and produce the iconic Ford Model T car that made automobiles widely accessible to the US public, he also developed the assembly line model of production. Whereas individual craftspeople used to do the whole creation process from beginning to end, the assembly line gave each person one task in the larger process. That way, a lot of people with a little education together could all accomplish the work of one person with extensive education, but only if they worked together and trusted each other. When workers learn to communicate and cooperate as one functional unit, that’s true success.