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Sunday, August 30, 2009

CHAPTER EIGHTY FOUR. A BRIEF HISTORY OF SLAVERY


 


Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Apr 21, 2010 12:02 AM PDT



This chapter is dedicated to Moses, Socrates, Christ, Mohammed, George Washington, Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Dwight Eisenhower, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. 

Each fought slavery in his own way. None feared speaking truth to power, understanding that it is only truth that will make us free. Whatever the failings of some of them, the decisions each made to believe in and devote their lives to freedom and justice in the world brought us to a place where Americans can finally finish the task of forging a democracy. Only when free of the threat of annihilation at the hands of a US-dominated corporate Empire will the nations of the world at last be able to find their own ways to the path to  permanent, worldwide peace.


It is less obvious that this implies a deep debt of forgiveness to those whose malicious acts set the world stage and brought us to this perfect day: Pharaoh Ramses II, the frightened politicians of Athens who murdered Socrates, the founders of Sparta who created a society that valued the state  over human life and dignity, the Sanhedrin who murdered Christ for the effectiveness of his argument for unity, violent pagan tribes in Seventh Century Arabia whose utter depravity inspired Mohammad to seek a higher form of wisdom than the worship of wealth and power, British Imperialists who assumed the God-given right to rule over others, misogynists of all stripes who inspired Adams, Anthony and countless other women to fight for the rights of all of us in fighting for equal rights of women, slave owners in Africa and the Americas, Hitler, men sitting in board rooms and on the US Supreme Court who handed control of the US government to the military-industrial complex, Cheney, the Saud family, members of Congress and Parliaments, Prime Ministers and Presidents have always acted according to their natures. What else can any of us do?

Christ and Mohammed, Buddha and Krishna all understood that only when we accept that all humans are members of the family of Mankind are any of us ourselves fully alive. To deny the humanity of any of them is to deny the humanity of all of us.






No one knows when slavery began, but surely it arose after the original sin of murder. Sides were chosen, tribes formed and battle lines were drawn. The oral tradition that predated the dominant written traditions did not record that once, we were all brothers and sisters, originating from a common community that arose in Africa tens of thousands of years ago. We are as a point of biological fact all one People.

The willful ignorance of the haves and enforced ignorance of the angry and often violent have-nots cannot change that reality. We may have our own perceptions of reality, but we share this unique moment in the space-time continuum. At every moment, we are at the crossroads of divergent futures. Our individual and collective choices will determine what road we take. Our children will bear the burden of paying for our mistakes. It has never been more important that we wisely choose than at present.

Every decision we make has a moral implication and our choice determines whether we become more or less free. The world is a house divided, and a house divided against itself cannot long stand. A world civilization cannot long endure half-slave and half-free. If God exists, we are worthy of its grace and the gift of democracy and freedom only to the extent that we care for, protect and promote the well-being of the least among us.

Abraham, the spiritual Father of the People of the Book, was the first to attempt to reunite a tribal People who regard themselves as "The Chosen." This is an unfortunate choice of words, since it implies that there is a God who chooses favorites, a patently ridiculous notion. In fact, many rabbinical scholars take this to mean that the Jews were chosen to be an example to Mankind, for better or worse. Some Jews argue that the Exodus was a just punishment for abandoning the faith that they could create a just society. Many regard Israel as an abomination, arguing that the Torah promises that Israel will only be restored by God's will, not by those who believe in the myth of racial superiority.

Abraham is said to been designated by God as "the Father of many nations." Jews, Christians and Muslims all claim his lineage. It is remarkable that all recognize their common source and yet so few who claim to be adherents of those faiths see the obvious corollary : they are all members of one family. Perhaps this is no surprise given the rifts that developed in his immediate family, when blood ties were considered by Sarah to be more important than the bonds of affection Abraham felt for both his sons. It may be that this is the most important lesson that we can learn from the story of his life.

Since they had not learned the lesson sufficiently before having been enslaved in Egypt, it was perhaps necessary that Moses be chosen to lead the Hebrew tribes out of bondage. Even after the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, the Bible tells us that the Israelites immediately resumed squabbling when safe on the other side. Only a sign from God gave Moses the credibility to lead them to the Promised Land. Nonetheless, some still seem to have been lost.

Among the most lost were those who became the Sanhedrin. These high priests caused to be crucified a radical rabbi who brought to his people the message that he had encountered in his travels: If are all children of the one God, we must treat every man and woman as our brother and sister. The message was of Jesus was so simple that a child could understand it. That is what made it so dangerous that Herod and the Quislings of the Sanhedrin believed that they had to kill Christ. This was not an act that was likely supported by the majority in Israel, but Israel was not a democracy.

Ancient Israel granted undue power to those who claimed to speak for God. Those entrusted with this power demanded death for the man many felt to be their own messiah. The Temple soon fell, and those who had abused their power lost it. The Jewish people were once again nationless. Those who remained in the Mideast formed isolated communities, surrounded by Pagans until the rise of Islam. Their communities were incorporated into the Caliphates, in which they were free to worship the same God, being recognized as fellow "People of the Book" and descendants of Abraham.

Mohammed is said to have had a series of revelations from God in a time when his people were divided into tribes warring over water and wealth. He brought the same message that Christ, Krishna and the Buddha had brought before, in different times and places. A relative peace fell upon the Caliphate once formed in which Jew, Christian and Muslim lived in harmony and mutual respect as Mohammed taught that Allah had bidden the faithful to do. A relative peace reigned for hundreds of years.

The collective wisdom of Greece was salvaged by Muslim scholars from the ruins of the famous library of Alexandria that had been savaged by the invading Romans. These great works were lovingly transcribed and studied in the first great universities in Baghdad, Tehran and Salamanca in Northern Spain. The world's greatest scholars converged on these centers and together kept hope alive while Europe plunged into the Dark Ages as the Catholic Church cynically used torture and murder to enforce its political theology and maintain its grip on power.

The seeds of corruption of Islam were planted early, when Mohammad established the tradition of representing both the secular and the religious authority at the same time. While careful to act as a governor in a secular fashion that recognized the equality of rights of non-Muslims, it was inevitable that lesser men would not always be as scrupulous. After his passing, religious and civil authority  were wedded in the office of Caliph, which literally means "successor." Initially attempts were made to choose Caliphs by consensus, but in the end the office became hereditary and the chance to form a the world's first true democratic tradition was lost .
Inevitably, granting political power to religious leaders causes them to lose the first jihad, the struggle to conquer the self. They forget that the essential message of all great prophets is to purge the illusion of separateness from their minds and see the reality that all of us are interconnected and interdependent. In the Islamic world, Shiite began to war with Sunni as Islamic fundamentalists sought to dominate others by claiming Qur'anic authority, just as fundamentalist Christians claim Biblical authority to decree what beliefs make one a "true" follower of Jesus. Traditional tribal leaders continued to make war to advance their own interests, only now claiming to be advancing a holy cause.

With the Roman Catholic Church made common cause with an Eastern Church whose dominion was under threat by Islamist forces, the stage was set for a clash of civilizations. Citing among other evidence of the need for a "holy" crusade against Islam the burning of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem decades earlier, Pope Urban II whipped “Christian” warriors into a blood frenzy of revenge. The Crusades that followed stained the name of religion for all time, as few in the Church resisted this mad rush to war.

Western soldiers under the banner of the Roman Catholic Church swept upon Jerusalem like a horde of locusts, employing the tools of total war and “burning the village in order to save it.” It took the singular skill and determination of Saladin to beat back the invaders and in the process, teach them about chivalry. It is said that in the process, Islam gained many new followers among the Crusaders who remained behind.

Following the final defeat of the Crusaders, the last Caliphate arose. The Ottoman Empire came to control most of the Mideast and was considered the pinnacle of Eastern civilization at the time. Like all Empires, its government eventually became more interested in maintaining power than the integrity of its national soul. In the great war to determine the New World Order of the 20th Century, it ended up on the losing side. The Empire fell to the collective corporate power of the Allies, which were at the time seriously regarded by educated persons as“democracies.”

In the aftermath of WWI, the Mideast was carved up according to the classic British rule of divide and conquer. Kurdistan was incorporated into three “nations” that were themselves carved from pieces of other nations and cultures. The lines were drawn with the intent of dividing the oil wealth of "Iran," “Iraq” and "Turkey" according to the agreements of the self-styled Masters of the Universe of that time, the parents and grandparents of today's global elite who are so anxious to collect their inheritance that they are willing to destroy it in the process.


The war to end all wars was nothing but a contest for control by two alliances of what were essentially fascist nations, where the rich made common cause with politicians against the People. We have come to a time when we must build a united international front against fascism and war to save human civilization and give our children their only chance to live free.

The United States has become the world's only superpower. It is controlled by corporate terrorists led by the international banksters. Other governments are lining up  behind them, the economic elites of those nations eager for a share of power and wealth in the coming fascist New World Order. Given their combined military might, we can only defeat them when the people of the US rise up and take back America for the People. Only then will the Peoples of other nations be able to free themselves form the tyranny of their own governments. That begins with freeing our minds from the illusion of separation from one another.

With the vast majority of humanity claiming a belief in God, it is critical that we learn to put aside our differences in the way we perceive it. After all, none of us can understand God in its totality, for if it exists it is by definition everything seen and unseen that exists not only in the Universe we know but another we cannot. Religion can be defined as a set of beliefs that must be accepted in order to be considered a member of that faith. When it is so defined, it defeats its purpose by separating us into groups with different senses of identity. That allows us to be enslaved by those who understand this but have no faith in either God or Man. If instead we define a religion as one way of looking at the world to try and understand its underlying reality, it can be liberating, as Vishnu, Buddha, Abraham, Christ and Mohammed all tried to teach us.


It is possible to create a real democracy in the US and thereby allow it to spread throughout the world.The evil of corporate personhood is increasingly recognized in the US, where the Revolution that has never been completed. The battle to abolish corporate personhood in the United States will first have to end in victory if the world is to be saved from the evil designs of the international corporate terrorists who seek to enslave its people, in a fascist New World Order. The Army of Soldiers For Peace International is prepared to challenge the virus infecting the human consciousness that makes war seem inevitable in our fevered minds.

It seems that it is all over the metaphorical shooting. In America and elsewhere we are gradually emerging from our slumber by the clanging of an alarm from somewhere in the distance. Reality is impinging on our waking dream. We are beginning to realize that each of the great prophets of the Book has merely reminded us of what Krishna and Buddha taught their own people in their time and place.

It is the nature of reality itself, not simply the reality that men create, that we are inter-related and interdependent. Each action that we choose to take involves a moral decision. In this time of tribulation, we must each decide whether we will choose to live as slaves or to join together to free ourselves from the slavery of the belief that war is inevitable. In the time of awakening, we will come to our senses and agree that war is unimaginable.

I know not what course others may take, but as for me: Give me liberty or give me death.



In the immortal words of George Harrison:

We were talking
about the space between us all.
And the people
who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion,
never glimpse the truth.
Then it's far too late
when they pass away.

We were talking
about the love we all could share.
When we find it
to try our best to hold it there.
With our love, with our love
we could save the world, if they only knew.

Try to realize it's all within yourself.
No one else can make you change.
And to see you're really only very small
and life flows on within you and without you.

We were talking
about the love that's gone so cold.
And the people
who gain the world and lose their soul.
They don't know,
they can't see,
Are you one of them?

When you've seen beyond yourself
then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.
And the time will come when you see we're all one
and life flows on within you and without you.



Rick Staggenborg, MD

Founder, Soldiers of Peace International


Roseburg, Oregon

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