Monthly Archives: January 2014

Slavery, Economics and Inhumanity

467039789 148942488I have watched two very interesting films recently; Eden and 12 Years a Slave. Both films were excellent and were very thought provoking indeed.

12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen is the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from New York in pre-civil war America. He was abducted and sold into slavery, and the film is based on his account of what happened to him. It tells of his inhuman treatment at the hands of the slavers and shows their reasoning and their own level of personal degradation in the pursuit of economic wealth.

Eden directed by Megan Griffiths is a true story of Chong Kim a young Chinese American girl who had just graduated high school. When she was kidnapped and taken forcibly into prostitution. The film talks of her journey to stay alive and come to terms with what happened to her and how she eventually escaped her captors. Her journey at the hands of her captors and how she came to terms with what happened to her.

Both films are well worth watching as they chronicle the brutality and inhumanity of slavery and the resilience of the human spirit.

Descended from Slaves

I am the descendent of slaves as are many people from the West Indies. My father was born in 1919 a British citizen in Jamaica, the West Indies, a descendent of slaves himself. I am sure many people are familiar with the history of slavery in the West Indies and its connection with Africa, Britain and Europe. Of course, there is a new generation of children who are not familiar with the history at all. It is part of the school curriculum in Britain to teach it but it is an optional subject.

Steve McQueen, the director of 12 Years a Slave feels that all children in Britain should be taught this history and the British involvement in it. I am in agreement with Mr McQueen. We need to teach this history in order to  make sure it is not lost and forgotten. I do not think this because I am the descended of slaves but because I celebrate humanity. I know and understand that whilst it would be convenient to think that slavery is a thing of the past it is not, of course. Its global affects and influence are still felt throughout the world today.

Economics of Slavery

Slavery’s history and modern proliferation is rooted in economics and profit. Throughout history enslaved populations were exploited for economic gain.

The Africans were taken to America and the West Indies because they could work the land in unforgiving tropical conditions. Europeans fell prey to those harsh conditions and often died quickly and were not considered an economically viable source of physical labour.

To inflict brutality on a fellow human through the act of slavery is difficult but made easier if the person is seen as less than human. Negros were subject to a dehumanising proces and thought of as primitive inferior beings.

Personal Freedom

I had such taunts when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in Britain. This attitude of intolerance that was a part of Britain’s colonial past.  My generation were the offspring of the black Britons who came to rebuild Britain after World War II. They had a hard time of it to say the least. As a child my parents made sure I understood the history of slavery and told me many stories about intolerance. I did have some instruction on this at school when I was about ten. I have always wondered if it was as a result of having me in the class.

The multi-racial family that I grew up in, as well as the hard lessons I had as a child growing up in 1950s Britain have all gone to make me a person who totally opposes all forms of slavery. To my way of thinking, slavery in all its forms has no place on planet earth period.

Modern slavery, such as abduction for forced labour and prostitution, has no place in modern and enlightened life. People are not commodities as freedom is a basic human right.

Denial of Freedom

Most of us in the West are free people and we can do as we choose. It is our right to do, say and act in any lawful way we choose, whenever we choose. But what if one day that right and freedom is taken away from you? What if you were not allowed to see your family ever again or move freely anywhere as you choose? What if you were chained, beaten, drugged and forced to work in practices that you found morally, spiritually and ethically wrong? What if you were forced to work against you will without pay and with little food? How would that affect your life, your sense of self and will to live? What would you do to change that situation?

Take action

Scotland has proposed an anti-slavery law and it needs as many supporters as it can get. At the moment lawyers, activists, policy-makers and academics are united in their support for the suggested policies, which would:

  • Establish a ‘Survivors Service’ to identify, assist and seek justice for victims.
  • Ensure stronger penalties for traffickers and those that help them.
  • Make special provisions for the child victims of trafficking, including allocating an expert guardian to fight for their rights.

Do we not have a responsibility to each other as fellow human beings? Or is it every man for him-self? As we discuss in Nourish the Flame Within, we are all interconnected energy. We are all part of a greater whole and the energy of the universe. We are all part of one human voice, one human family. This is not always easy to feel when we all put so many forms of separation between ourselves. We separate on colour, nationality, race, gender and religion. Each race, nationality and gender brings something special to human life and the human experience. Respect for all is essential to take life forward through this century and beyond.

Please join me in supporting anti- slavery in any way you can. Nourishing the flame within is not just a personal journey it is also a global one, nurturing our fellow man by allowing each one of us the freedom to pursue the path that leads to the realisation of our own inner talents, skills and potential.

The Universal Life Orchestra

A Jazz band improvises just as Nature does, connecting to a greater force that speaks to all, coordinating and creating perfection in that moment

A Jazz band improvises just as Nature does, connecting to a greater force that speaks to all, coordinating and creating perfection in that moment

Silence……. and suddenly the orchestra erupts into life.  The sound is created through the harmony of many parts, each musician working individually but flowing together to create a stunning whole.  As each individual instrument changes, the others shift in harmony with it, so that perfection is maintained and the beauty sustained.

What a skill to create such a thing!  What talent to play it, conduct it, compose it and manage the ebb and flow of perhaps fifty or sixty individual parts.  Every musician has trained hard over many years to cultivate and nurture their talents and has created beauty and perfection in their own right.  Now, under the organising influence of the conductor and the composer, these musicians work in concert to perform a harmonious whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.

This is no different to the artist painting hundreds of colours onto canvas or a choreographer directing dancers in a company- there is the individual and there is the group.  There are the parts, and there is the organising force that brings these parts together to create a working whole.

This phenomenon is seen throughout nature.  Each of us, for example, is a group of trillions of cells, each cell performing approximately 100, 000 chemical reactions every second.  Each one of these cells works in harmony with all the other cells in the body to create you, sustain you, maintain you and keep you healthy, adaptable and able to learn, develop and grow throughout you long life.  How incredible is that!!!!!!!?

No less wonderful are the atoms that come together to create the chemicals that make the cell possible or the energy that works in harmony within the atom that brings all of life and the universe into existence.  Think of all the planets that make solar systems that themselves go to make up galaxies.  The universe is made up of billions of galaxies bursting in and out of existence, an individual instrument in its own right, part of an ever- flowing concert or symphony that plays because…….. that is what it does!

It is just as amazing to consider that these things are fluid and adaptable.  A living being interacts with the environment around it, changing in response to conditions, yet at the same time sustaining its form.  It is as if there is a timeless, unchanging centre that maintains balance and equilibrium within itself.  This perfection is achieved without thought.  We know this because the beauty of perfection is visible throughout nature- the delicate symmetry of butterflies’ wings or the shape of a tree.  Adaptability is essential, achieved within the context of balance and perfection.

The Universe is more like a jazz improvisation group, or a band jamming late into the night.  The players have a connection.  Without knowing how, they feel the change in harmony as it happens and adapt to it as its happening.  No different to a flock of birds or a school of fish- they move as one, sensing the movement of the group, not the individual.

What creates this order?  What is the musical score of your body and the Universe?  There is no doubt that there is order to Nature, because this amount of sustained coherence is too incredible to come about simply by chance.  Science is beginning to discover answers to these challenging questions.  It seems that the energy that is the universe is more spread out than we would imagine and interacts with itself through ripples of vibration.  Energy is not the pebble hitting the lake and creating ripples.  Energy is the lake!!!!!  Coded in this energy is information, transmitted within the ripples- the information is a vibration that transmits itself as the ripple moves, spreading across the lake that others can interact with.  This is happening at every point in the universe all the time.  The universe is like a vast lake of ripples.

The waves of the ocean take form and disappear, but they are still made of water, just as the ocean is.  Form is like a wave.  You can see it, touch it, be influenced and affected by it, but it is water, it is no different to the ocean itself.  Form is the same.  You can see it, touch it, be influenced and affected by it, but it is still energy.

This fluid nature of the universe begins to explain why things happen at a distance at the same time, like the flock of birds and the jazz musicians.  The universe is a vast lake of ripples that come in and out of existence and are fluid in nature.   Energy is constantly interacting allowing communication to take place at many levels and all part of the rich tapestry that goes to make our wonderful and mysterious universe- wonderful because of the many combinations of energy the ripples can generate and mysterious because these interactions are often happening beyond our senses and beyond our understanding.

Science is telling us we are interconnected- to each other and with the universe itself.  There are signs of this interconnectedness, events that indicate that we are most content when we are with like- minded people, when we are at one with nature, our loved ones and our pets and most importantly when we are at one with our self.  The harmony of sound in an orchestra, the harmony of colour in a painting, the harmony of shape in a sculpture or architecture and the harmony of minds in a family or working environment are all really the harmonious interactions of energy, the very state of balance and peace of Nature herself.