Monday, September 14, 2009

Longshoremen of Notability

While doing my morning reading, I happened upon the thinker Eric Hoffer. Being in organized labor, I should have been aware of him already, and I may have read parts of his work through the years and just never followed through and read more from him. What really interested me in Hoffer was that despite his accomplishments as a writer, he remained a longshoreman until retirement at age 65. He was a member of Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, Local 10.

It was inevitable this would launch me down the rabbit trails of the web...forever in search of that next piece of information which could just lead to the missing piece of the puzzle. You just never really know what each trail is going to have to offer. Similar to the downhome philosophy of a box-o-chocolates I suppose.

There is no doubt, the following of these trails is more like an exploration rather than a structured and more focused study...but just as rewarding and enlightening. The trails I chose this morning led me to other (according to Wikipedia) notable longshoremen besides Hoffer. The first one I will mention is Geswanouth Slahoot.

Dan George is well known for his soliloquy "Lament for Confederation". Geswanouth spoke of using the white man's tools for building political activism within the First Nations.
But in the long hundred years since the white man came, I have seen my freedom disappear like the salmon going mysteriously out to sea. The white man's strange customs, which I could not understand, pressed down upon me until I could no longer breathe.

When I fought to protect my land and my home, I was called a savage. When I neither understood nor welcomed his way of life, I was called lazy. When I tried to rule my people, I was stripped of my authority. more...

Another from the list is J. S. Woodsworth of Canada who had left the ministry of the church because of his difficulty accepting the Methodist dogma. Woodsworth also became involved in the labour the point he was arrested and charged by the King for publishing seditious libels and speaking seditious words. Woodsworth eventually become the first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation...the prelude to Canada's New Democratic Party.
I am no longer interested in the Heaven above. I believe it is the duty of the CCF to make a Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

These three former stevedores were able to reach great levels of accomplishment and I am delighted I went down this particular rabbit trail this morning. I have known a few longshoremen as a labor activist and it did my heart good to find and share such character!

ASIDE: I would feel derelict if I did not mention Charles Manson met with Wikipedia's notability guidelines as a famous stevedore, having worked as a longshoreman for a couple of years. ;-)


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