Thursday, April 14, 2011

Slavery...are we slaves?

Slavery is a simple concept...I thought.  The definitions are rather clear and seem easy to understand.  Merriam-Webster says that a slave is one held in servitude as the chattel of another or that is completely subservient to a dominating influence.  All that seems clear enough.

Can one be a slave if not owned by another?  And, can you be a slave if you are not aware that you are one,i.e., either born or have become accustomed to being controlled by others or another?  That is, is self-awareness of the condition a requisite for the classification.  Apparently not, from the definitions...but more on that a bit later.   Also...if you voluntarily give power over yourself to another, but then decide you wish to rescind it and find that you cannot, does that result in a condition of slavery.

These questions came about because of an article I read recently that suggested that living in America had become an existance subject to a "plantation mentality."  The idea that we looked on the government much as slaves in the south had looked on their plantation farmer owners.  Seemed ludicrous on it's face, but....

It is undeniable that slavery has existed in the world since recorded history began.  Every one of the societies throughout the ages has employed the concept of slavery:  the Romans, the Greeks, the Aztecs, the Muslims...all of them.  But our history books suggest that WE are different. "Really?"...and, if so, "Why"?

In ancient times, slavery often had nothing to do with "ownership."  True, the Romans and Greeks did transfer title, but neither the Aztecs nor African tribes have any formal title for their just was a result of losing a battle or war.  Losers became the slaves and winners became the owners or "masters."  America codified ownership, with formal documentation...until they were emancipated. But...why did America and most of the western world do away with slavery. Did it really disappear? Or did it just morph into another form under a different name?

After all, how could a system that has existed for so many years suddenly become anathema to the human race?  If it were a gradual thing, one could argue that it was a developing "something": perhaps moral awareness, perhaps a religious revelation, but whatever it was, it would logically be something that mankind came to over an extended period...but this apparent  elimination of slavery has come upon us suddenly in less than a century, eliminating a pattern of behavior that has been consistent and constant for ages.  Why now...and how?

I do not think it has disappeared at all.  I think that it exists all around us and that in fact, we may all be not only complicit in its preservation but be slaves ourselves.

Remember the second side of the Merriam-Webster definition...",,,completely subservient to a dominating influence."?  Let us try out some comparisons of the usual vision of slavery side-by-side with living in America today:

What happens when you disobey the orders of your slave master?  Punishment of various degrees, depending on how severe and how many previous transgressions, right?
What happens when you disobey the orders of the government?  Not much different, I would suggest.

You may argue that you get a jury trial.  Sometimes...but not as often as you think.  Most transgressions against government are punished by taking your "stuff," usually in the form of money but sometimes they just take you property...especially if they want it and you think you own it.  How, indeed, is it different?

You say "...but my elected officials made the decisions, and I agreed by electing them."  Oh, really?  Was that your intention...or is that just a mantra that the government throws back at you to explain that it is really either your fault or that you agreed to allow this control and this "taking" of your stuff or your freedom?  Isn't the "election" thing something that you have been indoctrinated into believing actually protects your freedoms"  I mean, how many of your freedoms have disappeared in your lifetime without your specific approval?  Remember that unfortunate "property rights" thing that has been taken?  How about wiretaps without a judicial warrant?  How about the right to have the implements necessary to defend yourself?  Think about it.  How has that "our elections protect our freedoms" mantra been working...other than to lower your blood pressure?

Some people that lived centuries ago made an agreement to be governed by others.  We were born into it and raised to see it as a good thing...something to cherish and not to question. Did we choose it?  Did YOU choose it?  If we are really created with unalienable rights from God, why does the government have such absolute control over our lives?  Why does not every generation have to pass again, ab initio, and approve, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights?  Why are we encouraged to suffer indignities that our founding fathers saw fit to revolt against?  Sort of a loss of logic here, it seems.

Is there some fear on the part of those in power that some or all of the provisions might be seen by the majority of "citizens" as objectionable and the results as being enslaving?  You think?

Slavery is alive an well throughout the world.  In fact it is more extensive than ever before in human history.  And it is a natural existence, as proven by the history of the has always been and it will always be, albeit defined differently for the exigencies of the moment.  Today, most of the "Slave Masters" have simply morphed into "Elected Officials" and "Government Representatives."  They have refined themselves into a multi-headed hydra that cannot be clearly identified, and thus not ever truly defeated or removed, so the slavery continues.

Those who are poor cannot chose to remove the power that feeds them, while those who's earned wealth is taken by the government are too few to be able to fight the taking.  It is the perfect form of slavery where, for the sake of narcissistic ego, the enslaved cannot even countenance the idea that they are, indeed, slaves in fact if not in name.  And so it is.

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