01 May 2007

Todos os Trabalhadores do Mundo

The Ideas of Marx, Engels Live the wall across the street from my apartment announces.

May Day was pretty quiet for a socialist, democratic country. I didn't even realize what day it was until I walked down to the US Public Affairs Office and found it closed. Many of the proletariat were still working - the empregadas, the trash collectors, the MCel card sellers, the tomato and banana vendors, the candy men, the cashew and peanut girls, the building guards...

Sr. Pedro, one of the 3 gentlemen who guards my apartment, laughed when I told him that I had forgotten what day it was. "Everyone around the world celebrates May Day, how could you forget?" When I told him that we didn't celebrate it in the US, he was shocked. "What about the workers? They deserve a day." Considering that he was working today, I wondered that he didn't choke on the irony of his words. I quickly recovered by telling him that we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of September.

But you know, it just isn't the same. I know that the Soviet communists usurped the Celtic celebrations of Beltane to turn May 1st into a day for workers and unions. And that fear of communism is why the US doesn't celebrate Labor Day on May 1. (May 1 is officially Loyalty Day in the US.) However, there's something to having solidarity with workers everywhere at least once a year. And I don't say that just because I come from a pro-Union family (teachers, steel workers, railway machinists, etc.)

Are you HIV positive?
My post generated an interesting response from my friend Josh. He wrote to say that,

"The HIV one was particularly striking. However, and I don't want to belittle the seriousness of HIV, Sen. Duane of NYS senate is an openly HIV positive man who is doing quite well. I know he has a whole world of difference in terms of health care availability etc. but the point I guess I want to make is that it is important to recognize the life in the individual, not the virus in them."

In a much more eloquent manner, Josh stated what I was trying to say with my post. HIV status passes through my brain briefly, and may return if I notice that someone is visibly ill, however, it is the life, the skills, the joy, the wisdom, and the love of the people that I interact with here in Mozambique that really matters. And that is what I focus on.

I found his comment to be an appropriate reminder today for focusing on what we can do to make the world a better place - regardless of our HIV status. So, I tip my hat to Josh, and to Todos os Trabalhadores do Mundo.


  1. It seems May Day has become a bit of a fizzer all over the place. Not much happened here, and when I read Aussie newspapers there was nothing there either. Yet Australia is the home of the 40 hour week.

  2. That's too bad. I'm always hoping someone has it all figured out when it comes to work. IMHO people who work more than 40 hr weeks - if it is not something they truly enjoy - are crazy.

    Loyalty Day in the US is a new thing for me, even though it has been around since 1958. It really rubs me the wrong way on a number of levels - part of it stemming from our current administration.