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Feather's Miscellany: Slavery

John Waddington-Feather suggests that many of us are becoming slaves to our baser selves.

It is two hundred years ago since slavery was abolished in Britain; and it is difficult today to imagine (a) the mentality which accepted and promoted slavery, and (b) the conditions which slaves lived in and their state of mind.

Greed and power breed slavery. They have always been the prime sins driving mankind to do terrible things. All of us are tempted by greed and power at some stage in our lives. Greed and power obsess some people all their lives. Often they mask their hunger for power by calling it ‘ambition.’

Slaves were a cheap form of labour; owning slaves gave their masters a sense of power. In the past when a tribe or nation conquered another, they reduced their captives to slavery. Slaves then came from every race and only centuries later were they confined to Africa in the west, taken first by the Arabs and then the Europeans.

Slavery continues today where women and children work in the sweatshops of Asia and elsewhere. The landlords and money-lenders of India enslave those in their debt, forcing them to work for nothing on their estates or in their factories. And in the sweatshops of our own cities there are women working for a pittance little better than slaves. Others are brought in illegally by criminals to work in brothels; enslaved under threat of expulsion and intimidation.
I don’t suppose some husbands have thought it through, but their wives are little better than slaves when they treat them like chattels, always at their beck and call.

Then there are more insidious forms of slavery: alcohol and drugs. Since the growth of affluence people eat and drink more, often to the point of obesity and alcoholism. Their bellies have become their god. You have only to look around you in our streets to see the large numbers of overweight people of both sexes waddling by, old and young alike; and the same streets at night are filled with drunks and violence.

And are we not becoming slaves to the state with the growing number of rules and regulations imposed on us? Communist countries and Nazi Germany knew only too well what slavery was like under the state; so did our medieval forebears under serfdom. Fortunate we are to live in a democracy and enjoy the freedom which goes with it. We may no longer be the slaves of others; but the danger now is that we are becoming slaves to our baser selves.

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