Would we have been the abolitionists?

Cloud Atlas unexpectedly clarified some things in my thinking. The movie is a layered story across different timelines. It deals with themes of revolution against the way things are--especially when "the way things are" is based on suffering.

I watched the movie on a day when two random things were juxtaposed against each other. 1) I was making a meat dish for guests which would require me to cut up a lot of chicken breasts; and 2) I discovered that someone in my life was deeply into pornography and phone sex.

When studying history in school, I always wanted to be on the side of the abolitionists. To be brave enough to be part of the underground railroad helping slaves escape from the south to the north. To do what was right even at great personal cost. To be courageous.

It is easy to picture ourselves in these roles when looking back across history. What we forget is how "normal" the thinking that bred slavery and persecution was. How woven into the fabric of those societies the hierarchy. Back then, the people weren't people. They were products. And there was a lot of justification--both political and religious--to make sure it stayed that way. Suffering was minimized and ignored for the economy of it.

As I was making chicken chili--a recipe John and others love--I thought about what I knew of the way chickens are brought to market. That they have their beaks cut off when babies so they don't pluck each other. That they are raised in stainless steel cubes without sunlight or fresh air or raising their chicks or any of the things a chicken on a farm like we picture in storybooks might have had. (Ref.) The animals are products. When sitting on a shelf in a grocery store, we don't think about the suffering.

I thought about the sex trade. Sex trafficking within the U.S. is legally defined as commercial sex acts induced by force, fraud, or coercion or commercial sex acts in which the individual induced to perform commercial sex has not attained 18 years of age. The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry in the U.S. is between 12 to 14 years old. (Ref.) And in phone sex and internet porn there is no way to know the backgrounds of the people involved. Not age nor history nor choice. The people are products. There isn't much thought given to the people themselves and who they are.

It occurs to me that we have the opportunity to become the abolitionists of our day, but it will require going against the "normal." Require not only the hard work of making better choices for ourselves, but also being willing to do something outside of ourselves. Most importantly, it will require us to value life--even when we perceive that life to be different than our own.

I know there is a calling for me here. Just looking for the next steps.

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© Random Cathy
Maira Gall