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Since it's the Octave of Labor Day

09/07/2011 Comments (25)

...I thought I’d have a bit of fun with something Labor Day-related.

One thing I’ve noted is that a common feature of internet conversation is to decide that a statement or idea is right or wrong, good or evil based, not on the the content of the statement, but on who said it.  I want to try something a bit different.  Below are two quotes.  One is from the President, the other from a 20th century European social philosopher.

Quote 1: “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Quote 2: “[M]odern unions grew up from the struggle of the workers-workers in general but especially the industrial workers-to protect their just rights vis-a-vis the entrepreneurs and the owners of the means of production. Their task is to defend the existential interests of workers in all sectors in which their rights are concerned. The experience of history teaches that organizations of this type are an indispensable element of social life, especially in modern industrialized societies.”

Without using Google to source which quote is from which source, can you discuss what you make of these statements and how they might or might not be reconcilable with Catholic teaching? Try to stick to the content of the quotes themselves and resist the urge to find out who said which. Also, please resist the urge to think in non-magisterial terms like “liberal”, “conservative”, “Democrat” or “Republican”.  Just focus on the quotes and the content and how it may or may not relate to Catholic teaching.  I will drop in some time tomorrow to give you the sources. 

Update:  I got me some sharp readers!  As several of you knew or guessed, the first quote is from President Abraham Lincoln and the second is from Pope John Paul II (Laborem Exercens). By all means, continue the discussion!

Filed under fun quotes

About Mark Shea

Mark Shea
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Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.