Tag Archives: slavery

Slavery On A Sinister And Sadistic Scale

I woke up this morning to an email asking me to reblog my own post (originally published in summer 2018), that I provided a link to in my previous post. I don’t know what kind of schools this radio show were talking about? Is it only in Liverpool that we were taught that humans have gathered great wealth from being wicked? 

This is quite a gloomy title isn’t it?  It is not my intention to gloom-ify your day – not at all. It’s just that we took a visit to the Liverpool Maritime Museum the other day, I have not been there for years and I heard there had been changes to the floor that is devoted to the history of the slave trade.

You know, I have decided it is alright to pick a sombre subject to write about once in a while.  I hope my site on the whole reflects the joy I feel in life.  But serious sombre subjects are part of life and you have to be heartless to bury your head in the sand.

Liverpool Maritime Museum

I wanted to visit the Liverpool Maritime Museum again and to produce a post about it because it provided very sobering lessons to me during my childhood years.  This is one of the first museums I went to and I remember as a child being shocked and dismayed to learn about these callous pages of history.  I was raised near Liverpool and I remember being taught at school that Liverpool played a pivotal role in this cruel era.  And yes, our teachers taught us that it was a bitterly shameful connection.

I have spent some time out in Ghana (I also have family who have lived there for the last few years) and whilst we stayed in Accra, we were also able to visit a few other locations, Kakum National Park, Aburi Botanical Gardens and Cape Coast.  I have found the journal I kept while I was in Ghana and will prepare future posts about our amazing trip out there.

IMG_20180703_132044

IMG_20180703_132052The painting above is of Elmina Castle, which we did not visit when we were in Ghana.  However, we did visit a similar castle in Cape Coast.  When they took us on a tour down into the “dungeons” they asked us to imagine we were one of the hundreds who were crammed into that space before being loaded onto ships that were eventually to find their way to the Americas.

I already had strong feelings about how people were treated,  Humans dominating each other, treating other humans as commodities, forcing other humans into labour under barbaric conditions.  Yuck!  These injustices and atrocities make me wonder how can it be that human beings can sink to such a degree of hard-hearted brutishness.  I know slavery is perhaps as old as “civilisation”, but there is no excusing the utter disregard for your fellow human.

I have been happy to serve as an unpaid volunteer for many years, (and at times we joked that we were a bit like slaves) but I sensed I was more loved and appreciated than I have been by employers who paid me a wage.  But the forced slavery that enabled a few to profit while many suffered unimaginable cruelty…that is a crime that is deeply shameful.  Amongst other crimes recorded indelibly in history books.

img_20180703_132006.jpg

The Maritime Museum has some pretty graphic exhibits to help you to fully realize how bad conditions were for those being transported to the Americas.

The model of a ship in the photo above shows the lower decks crammed with the cargo of Africans who were being transported to the Americas.  Some of the exhibits made me feel sick.  Even though I have been to this museum several times before it still makes me react the same way as I did as a child.  I was so angry and sickened that a group of humans could be so wicked so as to degrade their fellow humans like this.

Of course since my childhood, I have learnt of many other acts of “inhumanity” – that is what we call it isn’t it, when a human or a group of humans commit a crime and for some strange reason they hold their heads up high for a while with clear conscience until eventually it is pointed out that what they have done is actually despicably evil. And oh so often, it is all about money, wealth, a more comfortable lifestyle…at what cost? At the suffering and cruelty of others!

IMG_20180703_131934 (2)

I remember the impression learning about the slave trade made on me as a little girl.  I felt ashamed actually.  There was no possibility of me being able to develop in my heart any improper pride or nationalistic streak.  No, I was struck with a determination to see a human family who are equal and can only be judged by what they say and do, not for where they were born or educated, the shade of their skin, the condition of their home or how much money they earn.

I have learned a wonderful lesson from travelling.  There are people all over this world that are very beautiful in their minds and hearts.  I have adopted many family members in my travels in many countries.  There are people I live near and work with who I do not warm to because of opinions they voice which smack of hateful racism and a self-centred, short-sighted nationalism.  Time will tell whether they are ignorant, “unwell” or whether they would go far enough to commit crimes in relation to their horrid outlook on other humans who happen to have grown up in (or whose parents grew up in) a different part of Planet Earth.img_20180703_132307.jpg

In fact, I pinch myself whenever I visit magnificent historical buildings in this country. I find them beautiful and interesting, but I remind myself that so much wealth has been amassed through corrupt and crooked means. I do not approve. I cannot feel proud of what was essentially crime on a vast scale.  What were the words I used in my title? “Sinister and sadistic”…  There are a lot of terrible things that have been done, but those that shock us the most are often those done on a mass scale.  The Holocaust, the Slave Trade, the Crusades.  It’s as if on a vast scale consciences were callous and unfeeling. Faulty crooked reasoning and degraded ignorance.

I do enjoy learning about history, very much.  I am fascinated by how people used to live. Especially prior to the industrial revolution.  I sometimes crave an existence without the pace of the modern technological world.  And I think it would be jolly sensible for us all to spread out a bit more rather than living on top of each other. Oh, to learn some basic skills, cultivating our food, making our own clothing and furniture, that would be so satisfying.  But the pace of life now, my feet don’t seem to touch the ground some days!

However, so much grieves me.  So many stories I have heard, how I would like to welcome back those who led a life of unimaginable hardship they were powerless to escape, I would love to make a fuss of them. Give them a soft bed to rest in and a banquet of tasty dishes.  And hugs, oh so many hugs, so much love and kindness.

Maybe you can understand why I became a volunteer?

I am still aghast at some of the situations I hear of today.  As a volunteer, we receive regular updates on what could rightly be described as “humanitarian crises” in various locations.  My own definition is when a human or a group of humans treat others in a way that is simply evil, and yet the oppressors do it with their heads held high with clear consciences.  Others are dismayed and outraged.  Yet at times, those oppressors seem untouchable, as they often have so much control and power.  It seems as if they answer to nobody.

IMG_20180703_131835

Helpless and hopeless is my overwhelming sentiment at times…yet I do feel hopeful.  I am inspired by the power that is beyond any human, wicked or good to control.  I read something recently that I found filled me with profound awe.  There were a couple with beaming smiles, standing outside of the train station when I arrived in Liverpool, giving out free magazines.  It was one of the most refreshing and positive wodge of pages I have set my eyes on in a long time.  When I came back to my sister’s I wanted to verify some of the quotes in the articles I read.

As we are experiencing a heatwave here in Britain that many of us have never seen in our lifetime, this quote about the sun captured my attention.

“How much energy does our sun radiate? Imagine how fierce a fire would have to be if you were ten miles [15 km] from it and could still feel the heat. The sun is, on average, about 93 million miles [150 million km] from the earth. Yet, on a sunny day, its heat can blister the skin! Remarkably, only about one billionth of the sun’s energy strikes the earth. Still, this fraction of the sun’s power is enough to sustain life on the planet.

In fact, scientists have calculated that the total energy output from just our sun is enough to sustain some 31 trillion planets like the earth. Or to measure this enormous output another way: If all the sun’s power could be harnessed for just one second, it would provide the United States “with enough energy, at its current usage rate, for the next 9,000,000 years,” says the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) Web site.

SunThe sun’s energy emanates from its core​—a nuclear reactor that smashes atoms together and spews out power. The sun is so big and its core so dense that it takes millions of years for the energy produced within the core to well up to the surface. “If the Sun were to stop producing energy today,” says the SWPC Web site, “it would take 50,000,000 years for significant effects to be felt at Earth!”

Now consider this fact: When you raise your eyes on a clear night, you are seeing thousands of stars, each disgorging vast amounts of energy, similar to our sun. And scientists calculate that there are billions upon billions of stars in the universe!”

To be able to control power like that is mind-boggling.  When I read figures and statistics like that it is hard for me to comprehend.  Yet, it also fills me with hope.  I might feel helpless and powerless, but I am convinced that those who are content to profit while closing their eyes to brutality and cruelty towards fellow humans are going to be humbled.

I just long for the day when a united human family, rich with varied cultures, are able to live in true freedom without being oppressed or dominated by other humans.  I know there are differences in the cultures and beliefs of different people living in different parts of this planet – but  I feel akin to any human who has the conscience that tells them abuse of power, disregard for the lives of others for economic gain and selfish and greedy violent conflicts are crimes.  Although they may appear to get away with it, the perpetrators of such acts will go down in history as criminals – corrupt and crooked in their reasoning – no matter how much charisma they may parade.

special.jpg

I would give up everything I owned to see a world where everyone cares about their fellow human, their fellow family member.

 

Education Plays A Key Role

Children, Drawing, EducationI think I mentioned a while ago this annoying radio show one of my colleague likes to listen to at work. I heard a discussion on there the other day that left me baffled. The radio presenter and the person calling in were saying that the history of how Britain made it’s wealth is not taught in schools.

That seemed strange to me because it was taught to us as children at primary school and at high school. (My parents taught us too of course.) Our teachers made sure we understood that wealth is not a divine reward or blessing. Being wealthy is not at all good karma or whatever you call it. Wealth has often been the result of stripping the planet of its resources and stripping other people of dignity and basic human rights.

I wrote a post about my most recent visit to the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the whole floor devoted to the history of the slave trade and the mistreatment of others that brought wealth:

Slavery On A Sinister And Sadistic Scale

Liverpool Maritime Museum

Until people everywhere stop thinking of their own glory, their own desire for wealth, their own desire for fame and prominence, power and influence – there is going to be a lot of ugly cruel behaviour.

Our teachers taught us that change comes from within. Loving other people, heartfelt respect, honouring them. Viewing and treating others as greater than ourselves. Seeking to benefit others brings us inner joy. Wealth and riches are not the goal. A happy healthy human family and a clean earth upon which all creatures thrive is the grand prize that we all need to work towards.

Birkenau, Auschwitz, Concentration, CampI recall meeting a volunteer in her nineties who was in a concentration camp during the Second World War. She said something special to me. She told me that she met a woman who was of a different religion and a different language group to her, who was also a prisoner in the camp. The other prisoner gave her some of her own bread because she saw how frail and ill she had fallen. She told me that what kept her alive was not just the bread, but the love, the human kindness when she felt herself wanting to give up on life.

She was one phenomenal lady. She said that after the war, many people immersed themselves in making money, building their own businesses, finding a lovely home etc. She became a volunteer and worked for decades, living on a tiny budget and sleeping in very basic accommodation. She learnt the secret of real joy in life. It had nothing to do with possessions. It had to do with loving and giving.

Money, Dollars, Success, BusinessSo long as people seek their own glory and their own wealth – they will miss out on real joy – the real life! But what goals do educators put before children? I remember later in my schooling, teachers pressured me to look ahead at the best colleges and universities so I could make money, have an exciting career and they suggested that would be “success”.

I rejected that. I rejected the idea of using my exam grades to win advantages for myself. I became a volunteer. I feel far more successful because I have avoided the pursuit of things and money. I have seen people of all cultures working together on projects that change communities. I have seen real love in action.

Recently, I have heard a lot of people saying that all people should have equal access to opportunities, not just a select few within a particular ethnic group or culture. I understand that. It’s the “opportunities” I have a skeptical view of. The education system in this world, the money making careers, the fame and glory this world offers – they are all incredibly fickle. (I have family who are in well paid careers – doctors, finance directors, a member of parliament. My family is a mix of cultures and ethnic backgrounds…which I love. Some of my close relatives who are in lucrative careers have been the targets of racial slurs from childhood to adulthood. But that is a different subject.)

Woman, Black, Businesswoman, YoungA friend of mine said she had to fight for everything she has. She said it in the context that she has suffered racism and discrimination because of the shade of her skin. From some views she has done very well for herself. She went to a top university and she did end up in a high paying career. She is proud of those achievements. She lives in a beautiful house and drives a beautiful car. She loves her designer clothes and her luxury holidays.

She has a lot to say on the subject of equal opportunities, and I understand why. But when we discussed this issue, she kept on talking about equal opportunities for education at top schools and universities, and for lucrative careers or roles within the media.

I made two comments to her that I genuinely wondered about. The first was in the context that it is predicted that there will be a huge economic crisis ahead in the wake of the …you know and the effect that social restrictions have had on the economy. I made the comment that I was concerned there would be less opportunities on the table for any jobs, nevermind top jobs.

ruiegdfhlahThe other comment O made was that there should be dignity in every role. I feel as much pride in the work I have done as a cleaner, as when I worked in finance, in a legal firm or in healthcare.

I take even more pride and reward in the unpaid work I do working as a volunteer for charities. I have no interest in lucrative careers or the acclaim of a corrupt system. I do not want it’s offer of a high salary. Nope…I am much happier working with a team of volunteers of all ages from different backgrounds as we work together to make an area beautiful.

I do not agree at all with the glorification of humans. At all. These statues being pulled down, they should never have gone up to begin with. I don’t agree with glorifying people. But my friend thinks there should be statues, but they should reflect all cultures. She said she would like to see a statue of herself one day.

I love my friend very much and I understand why gaining those things was important to her. I am proud of her determined spirit. But in some ways it saddens me. How does gaining those things help the planet, help the human race, help one to find real joy and satisfaction in life?

dahfaehgfPersonally, I think we should all be given an assignment. We should all be assigned to an area of land and work with our neighbours to make that area a paradise.

I think at some point we may all find ourselves not worrying about the things we used to worry about. I only see a future where the human family as one huge team are working together to make this whole globe beautiful and clean. When will educators start to prioritise on teaching us that getting high grades in your exams is not as important as working together and being able to look after our home, our health and each other?

Anyway…we were just talking, my friend and I…and although we agree on many things…we don’t seem to see eye to eye about the solution. We both said education is key to affecting out future. But we obviously don’t agree on the nature of that education. We didn’t argue, we are too fond of each other to have arguments when we do not share an opinion. But we did acknowledge that we have different goals for this world.