ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis
You know, sometimes we can all agree that some things just aren’t acceptable to any of us, on any level, especially if the thing we’re talking about would be done to us. Slavery, for example, is one of them. Who, in reality — and not just for their own fun and games (and yes, there are some who play such games) — would ever want to be ordered around like a slave and subjected to such things as a whip and chains and ordered to do things against their grain? Well, how many of us have ever studied slavery from the standpoint of its place as a factor in civilization?
A very brief history of slavery as found in one history book “Primitive man never hesitated to enslave his fellows. Woman was the first slave, a family slave. Pastoral man enslaved woman as his inferior sex partner. This sort of sex slavery grew directly out of man’s decreased dependence upon woman.
Not long ago enslavement was the lot of those military captives who refused to accept the conqueror’s religion. In earlier times captives were either eaten, tortured to death, set to fighting each other, sacrificed to spirits, or enslaved. Slavery was a great advancement over massacre and cannibalism. [Emphasis mine.] Enslavement was a forward step in the merciful treatment of war captives….
The hunter, like the American red man, did not enslave. He either adopted or killed his captives. Slavery was not prevalent among the pastoral peoples, for they needed few laborers. In war the herders made a practice of killing all men captives and taking as slaves only the women and children. The Mosaic code contained specific directions for making wives of these women captives. If not satisfactory, they could be sent away, but the Hebrews were not allowed to sell such rejected consorts as slaves — that was at least one advance in civilization. Though the social standards of the Hebrews were crude, they were far above those of the surrounding tribes.
The herders were the first capitalists; their herds represented capital, and they lived on the interest — the natural increase. And they were disinclined to trust this wealth to the keeping of either slaves or women. But later on they took male prisoners and forced them to cultivate the soil. This is the early origin of serfdom — man attached to the land. The Africans could easily be taught to till the soil; hence they became the great slave race.
Slavery was an indispensable link in the chain of human civilization. It was the bridge over which society passed from chaos and indolence to order and civilized activities; it compelled backward and lazy peoples to work and thus provide wealth and leisure for the social advancement of their superiors.
The institution of slavery compelled man to invent the regulative mechanism of primitive society; it gave origin to the beginnings of government. Slavery demands strong regulation and during the European Middle Ages [it] virtually disappeared because the feudal lords could not control the slaves. The backward tribes of ancient times, like the native Australians of today, never had slaves.
True, slavery was oppressive, but it was in the schools of oppression that man learned industry. Eventually the slaves shared the blessings of a higher society which they had so unwillingly helped create.
Slavery creates an organization of culture and social achievement but soon insidiously attacks society internally as the gravest of all destructive social maladies.
Modern mechanical invention rendered the slave obsolete. Slavery, like polygamy, is passing because it does not pay. But it has always proved
disastrous suddenly to liberate great numbers of slaves; less trouble ensues when they are gradually emancipated.
Today, men are not social slaves, but thousands allow ambition to enslave them to debt. Involuntary slavery has given way to a new and improved form of modified industrial servitude.
While the ideal of society is universal freedom, idleness should never be tolerated. All able-bodied persons should be compelled to do at least a self-sustaining amount of work….
Modern society is in reverse. Slavery has nearly disappeared; domesticated animals are passing. Civilization is reaching back to fire — the inorganic world — for power. Man came up from savagery by way of fire, animals, and slavery; today he reaches back, discarding the help of slaves and the assistance of animals, while he seeks to wrest new secrets and sources of wealth and power from the elemental storehouse of nature.”
Society, especially including Pres. Joe Biden, for some strange reason, keeps harking back to slavery, whether by implying that Blacks may end up back in chains, or aren’t really Black if they voted for Trump; or else the various teachers of CRT (Critical Race Theory) are trying to impress upon our students how awful the White man is because of what he did so long ago. Well, folks, history is history; we can’t make it disappear by destroying history books or tearing down statues, and we certainly don’t (or shouldn’t) want our children to believe that’s how we are to always and now view all White men. We need to learn from history and not repeat any of the serious mistakes of the past. We are built on our past, but we are not our past. We are our present.
What matters most is NOW. How are all people being treated today? Are they being accepted based on their character and not their skin color,
or are they still discriminated against today? Or maybe discrimination has now gone the other way, where some are trying to “make up” for
what some White men did in the past by punishing some or all White men (people?) today who had nothing to do with all that slavery stuff from
the past. Are we really happy with how we (and for now, we’ll just refer to those in the USA under Joe Biden’s watch) are being treated in present time? Or do we sense that maybe some of our freedoms are being taken away, like the choice to own a gun or to get vaccinated?
And even to complain about those things in person or in writing (our free speech)? Like Frederick Douglass, can we sometimes also feel like
a slave (to our own government) when we discover that we can’t do some of the things we want to do?
We all have our own personal history. Some of our very own ancestors or even relatives may not be anything to “write home” about. But we
learn from them how we do not want to be. We may not like those stories when we hear them, but better the truth than history rehashed
just to please ourselves.
We will never go forward if we keep trying to erase or rewrite the past. What has happened in the past helped us to be the people we are today. But that can only be a good thing if we have learned from the past, admit what was, and are dedicated to go forward as better people. All of us; there are no exceptions to the (golden) rule!
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.