Friday, March 25, 2011
You know that old saying about forgetting history? Well, sometimes it seems like some people would dearly love for us to forget our history. People who forget are much easier to bamboozle. Today is that 100th anniversary of The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Many people are commemorating it. It is one of those tragedies than needs to be remembered, out of respect for those who died, and for the hard lessons it forced on our nation.
I love history. I am not great with names and dates, but I feel a great connection with the humans who have come before me. When I read history I learn about how they lived, and died. The people from our past had lives not so different from ours. Sure, they didn't have iPhones, or internet, but they worked, loved, laughed and suffered. They held their babies close and they stood in front of graves. It is easy to look at their stuffy clothes and consider how things have changed and feel that we have come a long, long way.
Well, we haven't. Sure, we have got it pretty good, in a lot of ways, compared to them. However, some things haven't changed, and some have worsened. It is important to remember that every single inch of improvement we as a people, as a society, have gotten has been fought for, tooth and nail. Also, that anything we stop fighting for will be taken away. The world at large does not care about us. Business does not care about human cost, only bottom lines. If we take something for granted, it will slip away from us and it will be just as hard a fight to get it back.
So today, we remember The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. We remember the workers who perished and the working conditions that made it happen. Also, think of the people of 1911 suddenly realizing that the business world does not value human life. Suddenly, they were forced to speak up and protest. Suddenly, they realized that to be treated as human being, they must demand it. Loudly. It would be nice to live in a world where being treated with basic human dignity and respect were a given, but let us not delude ourselves into believing that shining idea is a reality.