I drove up and down to Atlanta on Tuesday and Wednesday. I enjoy that kind of drive as it gets me away from the madness that seems to surround my daily existence here at the PC.
In truth, I don’t even turn the radio on during the drive but sit in silence and allow my mind to first relax and then explore whatever thoughts occur within it.
The drive itself is relatively pretty … yes, it is interstate but you can still take in the countryside a bit on a sunny day. Both days were sunny and so my eyes went off into a sight-seeing mode.
On the way up there (it’s about a 7 hour drive) I noticed immediate changes as I crossed the state line. Soil turned red and a lot of the green turned to brownish as trees and fields bore witness to the winter season.
But as I said, the skies above were blue so it compensated for the sudden dullness of the countryside.
I brought my camera with me and promised myself that if I had the chance I would try to capture a little of what Georgia offered to me on the trip.
Interestingly enough, the things that caught my attention most were the things that largely contrasted with what I see in Florida. So, there are three different aspects that I am showing in the pics at the end of this blog.
Firstly there was the huge confederate flag flying just off exit 71, then the cotton fields that lined the road just off exit 134 and then the frost on my windshield when I reached the hotel. Hope you like my little selection!
Anyway by the time I had shot the flag and the fields, the whole thought of slavery started to run around inside my head.
While slavery is abhorrent to me, on every level, I don’t see anything wrong with the flag itself. I can only imagine that most of the men that fought under this flag were not fighting for slavery, but were fighting for their homeland, their families, and their independence.
It has been hijacked by right wing extremists now, of course, and their use of it, in my opinion is an insult to those that gave their lives for it.
But it was the fields of cotton that made more of an impact on me because as they stretched out before me, I could easily imagine a trove of slaves enduring back-breaking days without any rights to walk away from it.
But that made me initially look deeper into the whole notion of slavery, which is essentially the lack of freedom to make your own choice in life and being subject to the will of your “owner”.
And I thought about modern day India that still uses a caste system to enslave millions of “lower caste” people into an impoverished and horrendous life. I think about the millions of south americans that are bound into modern day slavery by economies that only serve the elite few, while the rest toil for almost nothing.
Human slavery is alive and well, wearing the disguise of commerce in many countries. Many millions have no choice in their lives while the wealthy few live off their backs.
But here is where my discussion of human slavery stops.
Because the real thought on slavery that ran around inside my head was how humans enslave animals, the world over. And think nothing of it.
The obvious slaves are the poor whales and dolphins that “perform” for us at attractions. But activist headlines have thankfully made an impact and reduced those instances. But similar slaves exist in zoos, circuses, and many attractions the world over. Yesterday’s sign by the side of the interstate advertised baby alligators at one “visitor center”, while another boasted to have a 14 foot alligator on display.
Can you imagine the life of that poor 14ft alligator? Likely kept in something about the size of a kiddies pool. And what was his crime? What did he do to deserve a life like that?
Look deeper still and peek into the whole pet industry, where pet stores will sell you almost any living creature as long as it isn’t endangered, and even some don’t care about that.
What choices do any of these little creatures have? They are destined to live out a life of our whim. And when we tire of them, we flush them away like a piece of garbage.
Imagine the life of a song-bird kept in a cage and try to put yourself into that situation. Creatures that evolved into the wild of nature, now destined to perform for us, accessorize our life, or assuage our own loneliness.
Dogs have been morphed for us over thousands of years into little slaves that only wants to live for us. They only eat when we let them, and get to go toilet on our schedule. If we opened the door for them, they would likely just wait for us and not run away. We have bred slavery into their entire species.
Ponder the poor creatures that we have developed into our food chain. To create a food chain that didn’t depend on our hunting abilities, we “domesticated” several different species of animals. Cows, Pigs, Sheep, Chickens, all of which originated in some form of free animal.
This domestication is akin to enslaving but that word would be unsavory in a system that requires us to butcher and consume on a large scale.
While it may sound like I want us all to be vegetarian, I don’t.
My only concern in this regards is the way we treat these animals. By domesticating or enslaving we perform a very neat mental trick.
Think about it, the common thread among all slave owners is the feeling of superiority they have over their slaves. And that superiority, translates into a feeling that they don’t need to treat their inferiors with any respect or decency.
Once they give themselves that stature, they level abuse and cruelty on a population of voice-less creatures that the rest of us turn a blind-eye to so that we still have access to cheap meats.
When we abandon ethics for profits and greed, we often need the victims to raise their voice and ask the question. When the victims have no voice because we have enslaved them, it requires men of conscience to ask on their behalf.
And so I ask … can we please replace human superiority with a little human decency?