Tuesday, May 29, 2012

on modern day slavery

What I have been thinking about is that I don't know what techniques were used to convince the slaves to stay in slavery, but whatever they were then, more effective ones are being used now to keep people in slavery that they don't even question as slavery.
I was with a child, not my own, the other day, and in her chattering she said something about something not being fair. I remarked, "Fair isn't something you look for in life." To which she chattered (and you know this is just something she's heard, she does that, passes on everything she's heard, ever), "Nope, a nice house, a nice car, and a good job -- that's what you look for in life."
You can possibly imagine the horror I felt at that moment, with the meaning of life defined as a house, a car and a job.
A few minutes later the little girl said, "I'd so much rather be here than at school;" and her great-aunt said, "Yeah, I'd so much rather be here than at work;" and I said, "Yeah, I'm so glad I'm here instead of at work." The joke was, of course, that I *was* at work and so we all laughed and I launched into telling about a trailer for a new tv show about mountain men wherein one of them says, "People ask me what I do for a livin': I LIVE for a livin'." To which the aunt said, "Well, that's fine as long as I don't have to feed you."
So, evidently, I'm supposed to sell myself to the highest bidder rather than do what I want to do, and so are you, and so long as you believe that it is your work that feeds, houses, clothes and cares for others, and as long as you have a nice car and a nice house and a good job, you are in the clear.
What you are is a slave.
If you have been paying attention you know I'm not advocating dependency. What I'm identifying is a system, an entire paradigm, where the people who actually do the work are impoverished and the people who bet on that work and exploit that work and add nothing to its value live opulently. Perhaps you can see it best at the fringes, the high and low points, but it exists throughout the spectrum.
And there isn't a person in this country who doesn't live opulently and that is because this country exploits (enslaves) the rest of the world (people and environment) and living here there isn't anything at all we can do except live in that particular milieu.
What that makes you is a slave owner.
What that means is that as far as I participate in the system, I am a slave and a slave owner; I am enslaved and I enslave others.
It is not a good thing.
And as inescapable as it is, it is not a thing to ignore. Sure, you are gonna die one day but in the meantime, you're health is important and what you do does impact it. Greatly.
So, what I'm offering, and what I'm asking for, is another way of seeing; another way of being. It doesn't get us out of the milieu, but it does prepare us for the paradigm shift that is actually already underway. The balls are up in the air and they can't all be caught; the plates are spinning and some are beginning to crash down right now.

The cornfield is planted.  There are blueberries ripe already.  Cheeses are being waxed.  Greens are being parboiled (ok, really steamed) then frozen.


Jerry Critter said...

This is a post that the world should read.

Amy McPherson Sirk said...

Thank you for this post. I'm at a turning point in my education where I must decide whether to gather credentials for a job or gather knowledge for a skill. I've been self employed much of my adult life and the idea of spending my days taking orders practically gives me hives. I live simply. There has to be a way to make an honest living without being enslaved. I've founds ways before, I'll find a way again.

CG said...

you go Amy . . . and whether it is a job or not, make the attitude one of non-slavery. Be ready and willing to quit, walk out. I'm mostly against 'credentials' because they almost always involve debt. And debt is slavery.

Walter said...

Can the willing be slaves? Or the ignorant? What if they like it and/or simply don't care? I love this post; I'm going to have to re-visit it and think on it some more. I love my country for what it gave me, opportunity. I served it and paid back that debt. I did not ask to be born here, but I was and I'm thankful and make no apology. While I love my country, I find I dislike most of my countrymen. They have grown complacent and come to view generosity as entitlement. They lack grit. Are they slaves? Or sheep as Grossman suggests in his essay?

CG said...

Well, certainly a thought and a debate and points to be made on both those sides but I think perhaps it is a distinction without a difference in the changed paradigm.

I too love my country, and my country's ideals, and I am so glad to be American, and Southern, and Appalachian, all.