/ Michigan quarterly review: Vol. 29, No. 3
SANORA BABB 371 most, but the young girl was careful that everyone had a chance. They heard about people in other towns holding meetings for them, collecting money, so that they would not starve, but most of all, so that they would not have to give up their right. Maybe the strike was a mistake at first because they did not act with enough caution, but the workers would not give in now because they had suffered too much, because they had been threatened, arrested, jailed and beaten for wanting more to eat than they had had, and taking the only way left them to get it. All they had to sell now was their labor- that was all they had to withhold. Would a business man sell his goods below cost? they asked one another. Then, how could they sell their labor below cost? And what was the cost of a man's life? Enough to feed him and his family, to clothe them, enough for a shelter over their heads. Nothing more. And that was not much, was it? Was it? - here where the shelter was only a tent and the food was less than enough? A man could want more, of course, and a day's work earned more. But in these years, they said to one another, a man was lucky to eat and sleep. But less than that? No. It was better to sit here and wait. It was better to starve than to become the shadow of a man on the earth that could give him a full, whole life. It was better to starve than to become a sullen thing who fed his belly and slept in his sweat and forgot about his heritage. Such a man would forget his dream. And everything new was begun in a dream. Man's destiny suspected and unsolved would crash in the darkness because he was too puny to assert his soul. These words may not have been on their tongues because the stirrings in a man's mind can be wordless. The man with words is not the only man who thinks and weeps with the deep question of his being. Let no one ever think himself apart in this. Sit down and talk to any man, and feel your shame; the unsayable things come out as clear and simple as a bell at night in every word he speaks. He wants more than bread and sleep, more than a movie and beer; he wants himself- a man to wear the dignity of his reason.
Top of page Top of page