Friday, July 6, 2012
Who Are The Slaves?
Slaves are people without rights or freedoms. They can be compelled at any time to do their master's will. They can't own property. Their master owns them, and can take anything they have at any time. In traditional slavery the master has an incentive to care for his property, and provides for their feeding, housing, and health care.
If we look carefully at the reality of life in many countries, it's worse than slavery. Consider the Democratic People's Republic of North Korea. The people own nothing, cannot engage in any work or trade on their own, can be imprisoned or killed at any time, and many are sick and starving. International aid agencies are the only force preventing mass deaths. Their leaders have no care, own everything, and treat them worse than animals. The very name of the country is a cruel fraud; there's nothing "democratic" or "republican" about North Korea. The people are forced under pain of imprisonment to worship their "Supreme Leader" as a god. It's the worst nation in the world, but many other countries are running a close second.
How does this happen to a nation? There is an ancient spirit of selfish cruelty that dwells in all of us. Our sense of right and wrong gives us strength to subdue this spirit, and most people do. But the small percentage who don't can wreak havoc. Like us, the leaders we allow into power can succumb to that vile spirit at any time, and frequently do.
Many societies have mechanisms that assist us in this battle over ourselves. Religion can be a great help, and the great religions have clear and unambiguous scriptures that spell out the rules of self control. For example, in Asian religion and culture, humility is considered the supreme virtue. Ancient Greek religion considered hubris (the opposite of humility) to be the worst vice in the world, and the most dangerous for society. Judeo-Christianity, too, has a message of self-sacrifice embedded in the words of the prophets.
Here in America we used to venerate great people of humility, and Abraham Lincoln was one of them. He was an enemy of all forms of slavery, having experienced it himself. His father rented him out to neighbors when he was a boy, and pocketed the money. Regarding the American Civil War and the our battle to free the slaves, Lincoln said,