Are you familiar with the Law of Attraction? It can be summarized as: "Like begets like." If we focus on the positive we bring the positive into our life. To attract more love, health, wealth, free time, we delight in what we have with a daily gratitude practice or by counting our blessings.
Some think this is a New Age idea, but this principle has a strong foundation in centuries old views of the cosmos, including Judaism (via the rabbinic dictum: middah c'neged middah). Quantum physics suggests that there is a lot to it.
I've been yearning for a radical expansion of this notion for a long time. What if a city, state, even the whole nation changed its thoughts, speech and behavior? What if we turned from scarcity consciousness to abundance consciousness, and in so doing we created real, lasting and much needed political, economic and cultural change?
There is so much that calls out for healing and shift, but today I'm going to select one thing. What if we exploded with gratitude for all those who are minimum wage workers and in so doing we secured a Living Wage for everyone?
I know that this is hard. We are used to talking about why economic injustice makes us angry. How frustrating and unfair it is that the gap between the haves and have's not is growing. It is hard to stop blaming those we think are responsible for unnecessary poverty.
As a rabbi, it is also hard not to quote my tradition. It is hard for me to release my disappointment that we haven't figured out how to manifest Maimonides' highest level of generosity--giving people jobs with sufficient wages so they can take care of their own needs. And its hard to not to preach that the Torah teaches us: "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is of your brothers, or of your strangers who are in your land inside your gates" (Deuteronomy 24:14).
But what if we stopped being righteous and just started celebrating the incredible contributions people who deserve a Living Wage make to our collective abundance? I tried this out on an unsuspecting coffee date last week and she said it really worked for her.
So let's give this a try.
I am so grateful to the people who care for our aging parents and our children. I am thrilled I can trust loving people to honor and tend to our families. I celebrate that people serve me meals so I can focus on things besides shopping and making dinner every day. I love walking into public spaces and seeing beauty: shining banisters, carefully tended gardens, a clean bathroom. When I am sick and the receptionists or aides treat me with care and concern I start to feel better immediately. I am so grateful to the people who pack and ship the boxes for the things I purchase on the computer so I don't have to shlep to the store. Every day I thank people who help create ease, beauty, time, space, trust and healing for me. I feel so honored by them and I see the honor they give all of us. Their service to the collective is priceless. Truly. Their service to the collective is priceless.
The economic abundance in America is incontrovertible. We are world's bread basket. Here in Oregon we are the country's berry, wine and produce basket. And with all this plenty we know that we create more plenty when we increase the buying power of those who earn the least--helping our economy thrive even more.
Two thirds of those I celebrate are women, and most of them are raising families. All those beautiful innocents, filled with potential who learn so much better, whose health is so much stronger, whose hopes are so much brighter when there is more than enough food, health care, clothing and general security. I am so excited about lifting our future up even higher.
Back in July 2000, fifteen years ago, I gave a speech at a Federal Living Wage rally. It was called the Jewish Fast for Peace and Justice because it was held on the 17th of Tammuz, a fast day and a day of mourning in the Jewish calendar.
Today I am not light headed from fasting and I am not mourning. I am clear headed and am celebrating the dignity, grace and honor of those who help us live our lives with greater beauty, ease and trust.
Here in Oregon I hope you will join me in supporting BOTH Living Wage campaigns: Raise the Wage Oregon http://www.raisethewageoregon.org/ and Oregonians for 15 http://www.15nowpdx.org/.
Don't mourn Oregon! Celebrate!