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On vacation in Colorado a few weeks ago, I noticed a ghost town indicated on my AAA map. I always like a good ghost town, especially if it’s only a mile or so out of my way. Wanting a break from some monotonous driving through the Great Plains, I went to see. What I found was not a ghost town at all, it was a memorial to the victims of the Ludlow Massacre. Never heard of the Ludlow Massacre? Neither had I.
In 1913, coal miners went on strike. They had been digging coal all over southern Colorado, living in company houses in remote company towns, paid in script that could only be used at company stores and charged exorbitant fees for goods at those stores. When they went on strike, they were evicted. They gathered in a tent city near Ludlow, Colorado and held out through a brutal winter.
When the strike continued into the spring, the Colorado National Guard, its wages paid by the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, opened up on the strikers and their families. They set up a Gatling gun that raked fire on the tents. A ten day war ensued. Many died. The nation paid attention, the strikers won their demands, and Congress limited the power of the companies. Rockefeller, to change his image, became a philanthropist.
This is why we have Labor Day: to remember the sacrifices of those who stand up to Power.
Power is getting the advantage again; that’s what Power does. Ludlow and the struggles of the labor movement are forgotten. There was no mention of the site in the AAA book and little about it in the nearby Trinidad, Colorado Visitor’s Center. There is noting at the Massacre site other than a neglected memorial set up by the United Mine Workers. Labor Day is a day of picnics and blowout back-to-school sales.
Why is this a shrink’s link? What does this have to do with mental health?
I conceive of every therapy session as a fifty-minute, two-person revolt against the way things are, the way they seem to have to be. Sometimes it takes more than two people, though. Sometimes it takes more people banding together and standing up to Power before changes are made. This is my small acknowledgement to the sacrifices of those miners. They did far more therapy of this broken, exploited world that winter than I ever have done in all my years of sitting with people, talking about change.