The best way to kill a man
Happy May Day to all Québec workers!
After having read the May Day message to Québec workers from the Social Affairs Committee of the Assembly of Québec Catholic Bishops, the words of Québec songwriter Félix Leclerc immediately came to mind.
Called “100 000 façons de tuer un homme,” this song says that the surest, best and most certain way to kill a man is to stop him from working by giving him money, paying him to do absolutely nothing, paying him to be unemployed.
Félix was absolutely right, and he found the best way to express in simple, direct terms the indignation that most of us feel. No! It is neither normal nor acceptable that here, or anywhere else for that matter, the scourge of unemployment exists. We must work at eliminating it and do so with courage, patience and energy, regardless of the difficulties we encounter or the setbacks that might occur. We must hold firm in our struggle, keeping in mind these simple but oh so enlightening words taken from Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948. “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”
After having stated that work is not “the sole reason for existence; work is designed for personal fulfilment,” the message from the Social Affairs Committee notes that in 2009, “37,400 jobs were lost in Québec, and of these, 32,300 were full-time.” Behind the numbers we must see the individuals who live with the consequences of this suffering: loss of self-esteem, isolation, family tensions, discouragement… We must also see how, because of this situation, there is the risk that within all sectors of society “a particular fatalistic outlook will become so pervasive that it will be considered normal that thousands are unemployed.”
“Unemployment is a problem that affects all levels of society,” states the message. Therefore, it is important “that we support the mutual-help initiatives organized by the unemployed and excluded. This gesture of solidarity is vital!”
We cannot honour the workers of Québec without being united, as well, to those who find themselves without work, to which they have a right.
The message is available on the website of the Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops: http://www.eveques.qc.ca/documents/2010/20100501e.html.
† Jean-Claude Turcotte
Archbishop of Montréal