by user Speakeezie
I have heard many comments about the issues surrounding slavery over the last few days, some of which have been thoughtful, sage even. Some have been a crock of manure. I have heard some eloquent discussions from blacks and whites and a lot of clichéd nonsense that borders on the edge of hallucination and hysteria.
On the one side there are those who despite recognising the tragedy that was slavery see it in its historical perspective. Wicked and brutal as it was, it was one human tragedy amongst many from a bygone age. That it happened at all is deeply regrettable and shameful but we cannot now re-write the history books. If we could we would do so in a flash but then there would be no history and without it there would be no present or future. We are where we are today because we have the lessons of history to guide us towards a brighter future.
We are entwined by our histories and history has tested all peoples and nations. What happened, happened. Nothing can change that. What is more important and much more majestic is that we have triumphed over the adversities, disasters and tragedies that have been inflicted upon us and which we have inflicted upon each other. Black people not only survived the horrors of slavery, they overcame it and forged a place of honour in the roll call of humanity. Whilst abhorring the inhumanity of slavery we can now only wonder at the courage and fortitude of its victims. It has made the survivors stronger and wiser and it was ever thus.
Yes slavery was an epic tragedy but in historical terms it was just one amongst countless others no less important, no less ignorant nor tragic. It is vital we remember and understand this episode of history. We should bow our heads in memory of those who suffered unspeakable pain and by doing so ensure it will never happen again. However, to pretend that this is a greater or lesser injustice than those suffered by billions of others of all races and cultures over millennia, is a nonsense.
From the dawn of time rape, pillage, torture and murder has been equally spread throughout humanity. Africans have been as guilty of these crimes against their fellow men, woman and children as Europeans, Indians, Arabs and Asians. We have all been colonised, some of us several times and Britain is no exception.
Since mankind first trod this earth, the most adventurous, advanced and powerful tribes, have always been curious as to what lay on the other side of the next range of hills or across the seas. They went, saw and conquered. That is and always has been the nature of the beast from which there is no escaping. It is in-built into our genes and part of nature's plan to ensure the survival of the fittest. In the course of this process genes are transferred along with knowledge and technology making the human race stronger as a whole. This is evolution at work.
The knowledge and technology of the Romans for example, was assimilated by the survivors of those they conquered. Whilst we do not forget those they enslaved, massacred or fed to the lions in the Coliseum nor do we demand an apology. We understand the inevitability of these events. History is littered with victims but from the darkness of ignorance comes enlightenment and progress.
Nothing has changed. Having colonised and de-colonised the globe, mankind driven by his innate curiosity is now looking to the stars and beyond. This is a natural process without which evolution would not nor could not flourish. Let us hope we have learned the lessons of history and will never enslave the occupants of distant galaxies. Let us also hope they have also learned theirs!
Lastly, there are those who say we should now apologise for slavery even if it was our ancestors and not us who were responsible because we are still living off the wealth of slavery. Yes, that is to some extent true but the survivors of slavery are also benificiaries of this wealth. This kind of argument is ill thought through and does not merit any credibility whatsoever.
May the souls of oppressed peoples everywhere rest in peace. However, until such time as we go to the aid of oppressed peoples irrespective of economic interests, the lessons of slavery cannot be said, to have been truly assimilated.
Rwanda, Angola, Somalia, Darfur, Zimbabwe, Congo/Zaire, are today’s humanitarian tragedies and we lift not a finger, black or white to help. What more is there to say?