The youngest and I have been reading Frederick Douglass' autobiography about his life as a slave. (Our homeschool studies often lead to blog posts . . . one of the reasons I love homeschooling.) Kind of overwhelming at times. Slavery was just so horrendous. So many observations and thoughts about it all.
Douglass talked about how it was preferable to be owned by a master who was not religious -- that the slaveowners who proclaimed the strongest religious fervor were also, generally, the most cruel. Amazing -- absolutely amazing -- that people can be so deceived. That they can believe they are so close to God and so right in their convictions and be so clearly and obviously wrong . . .
I remember when we read Booker T. Washington's autobiography how he talked about slavery being a wrong done to the slaveowner as much as to the slave. That when the slaves were freed, the slaveowners were helpless to take care of themselves. They didn't have the basic skills needed to survive without someone serving them. Not to mention the spiritual poverty they were brought to by having such an immoral condition being presented to them from birth as normal and right. (I greatly admire Washington's being able to view his oppressors with such objectivity and compassion.)
I was also struck by Washington describing the slaves who grieved leaving their masters when slavery was abolished. Not every master was cruel. Some were pretty good to their slaves, at least as good as one can be in such a situation. Some slaves were devoted to their owners, felt genuine affection for them, unable to even conceive that they could be treated any better, that their lives could be any better. This was all any of them knew.
Any right-minded outsider could look at their situation and see the chains that bound them, figuratively if not literally. Yet they sat in their state of oppression and wanted to remain. It felt natural. It felt comfortable. It was safer than that unknown state of freedom the abolitionists out there kept telling them was so great. This was all they knew.
And, you know, we are all slaves to something.
So many applications here . . . for myself . . . for others I know . . .