Remarks delivered by the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Copeland, Executive Director of the NC Council of Churches, at the Workers’ Memorial in Raleigh on April 26, 2019.
This is the list of the descendants of Adam. When God created humankind, [God] made them in the likeness of God. Male and female [God] created them, and [God] blessed them and named them “Humankind” when they were created. When Adam had lived one hundred thirty years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years; and he had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred thirty years; and he died.
People die all the time. It’s a fact of life that from the moment we are born, we are in the process of dying. But in between birth and death, the creator who gave us life provides the resources for every single person to flourish, to reach his or her greatest potential. When that doesn’t happen, when we don’t reach our greatest potential, all of creation suffers.
Some of the reasons can be explained.
- A coffee shop owner dies in a natural gas explosion because he wanted to take one more look around to make sure all his customers were safe. They were safe, but he wasn’t.
Some of the reasons can’t be explained.
- Tornadoes caused two deaths in Mississippi and one in Alabama last Thursday, but no one died in the Hillsborough tornados last Friday.
Much of what causes death has to do with God-given resources. Just because the creator provides the resources doesn’t mean the creatures have learned how to share them and conserve them. Mostly we hoard them and abuse them, again causing all of creation to suffer.
And that’s what we’re here to talk about today. Those times when creation suffers because greed and selfishness cause harm to people. We’re here to talk about people who die on the job. We’re here to talk about those whose lives end before they reach their highest potential.
Granted there are work place accidents, true accidents that were not preventable. But more often than not, accidents have reasons. They’re not accidents.
- Regulations are ignored.
- Machinery is not properly maintained.
- Workers are not adequately protected.
That list is long and most of you here today know the causes for workplace death. We are here to stand with you and to proclaim this is not acceptable. It is not acceptable for workers to be in harm’s way for reasons that are preventable. It is not acceptable for one who is loved by us and beloved to God to die before flourishing into his or her greatest potential.
May God’s peace rest upon all us as we continue to struggle toward our greatest potential and work to prevent deaths that should not ever happen. Thank you.