Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Slavery and Freedom

I am still chugging along in the book Chesapeake - a great read but I've really taken my time with it. In any case, it goes through the history of the region (based on fact with fictional characters) and I am currently in the pre-Civil War period, where they are debating the pros and cons of slavery. Some of the chapters are even written following the lives of a few slaves. When you think about this period in history, it's hard to imagine how people felt they had the right to own someone else and that these other people were inferior because of their skin color or country of origin. However, although I think most people in modern times (at least in this country) don't believe in the right to own another person, I think that there is still a sense of superiority and inferiority in some respects. The first part of this I'd like to discuss is still the racial aspect. After just returning from a trip South, I realize how inequal some things still are there. After all, a great majority of the population there remembers segregation, as it wasn't all that long ago. Although most of them claim to be accepting, you still see African-Americans in most of the low-wage jobs and treated with less respect. It is also still frowned upon to have an interracial relationship.

Change the focus to here in DC... Interracial relationships are everywhere...people are all very PC about it and I think for the most part, are understanding. But here, the less respected are the Latinos. They are the ones in the low-wage jobs and who seem to be shown on TV for all the crimes. Gang violence is prevalent and there are a very large number of Latino immigrants here, most of them doing what they can to get by. Since many of them are here illegally, they'll take what they can get.

In some respects, I think that all people feel a little enslaved by something but may not be your race or role in society - it may be more personal. Perhaps it is a job that you feel stuck in, or a relationship, or a city, your kids, or a friendship. I think that many folks really feel imprisoned in some aspect of their lives. But this morning, while reading my other book (Veil of Roses - about an Iranian woman who comes to America) I realize how much freedom we really have. Whether you dislike your job, your spouse, your circumstances, we have the freedom to have those dislikes and the freedom to change them at any time. If you feel stuck in a low-paying job, there are ways to improve your education or search for a new job. You have the freedom to be friends with whomever you choose (and not to be friends with someone you don't like). You have the freedom to express your political opinions and vote for who you think best serves our interests. In short, while we all probably feel like a slave to some things, we have freedom that is still not available in all parts of the world, especially for women. It is important to remember that we are in control of our own destiny and no one is stopping us but ourselves. So stop holding yourself back and remember that it is the little things that keep us going.

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