Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is slavery extinct, or just in a different form?

I've been reading _The Lost German Slave Girl_. There is a part that describes the scene around a ship coming in with immigrants - it was a common exploitative practice to ship people across the ocean in return for indentured servitude on the other end. Read the book for a great look into the laws around slavery, but I am going off on a tangent here.

The scene is described as bustling. All sorts of people are interested in buying the labor of another human being for a cheap price... at first that seemed so strange to me. Imagine a boat pulls up to a major harbor like Boston or Philly or NY and a sign goes up - "Get yer indentured servants here!" Who would show up?

But we live in luxurious times - our indentured servants come in the form of oil-burning machines. The price we pay for raping the earth of resources instead of using human labor is only now starting to dawn on us... despite the fact that we have known most of this before we even started using oil... The slavery that oil represents is not as visible - the threat of rebellion and retaliation is not as immediate as within our own household.

And it's all about more. And all that more is a one-way street - consume, with no return to the source, no return to the earth our mother. (Check out a great short called the Story of Stuff ).

And it's all not new - humans have always wanted more, better, faster, harder, prettier, more fertile, more productive... We used to live simpler lives because we couldn't have more - given a chance to have more, we want more.

The big difference is that now we are so able to take, we are taking more than the earth can give. Now to save our lives we have to take less, give more. Maybe it's also a way to save our souls... cuz we collectively have sold our souls for stuff, convenience of stuff, stuff to put stuff in, stuff that moves stuff, stuff that makes more stuff, stuff to eat, stuff to sit on, stuff to put on other stuff.............. We are drowning in landfill even as we want that new LCD TV with surround sound.

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