Last night, on PBS, I watched one segment of a series on the history of England. In a central area, archaeologists led town residents in the methods of proper digs. They found mostly pottery but a few other items, too, from the periods of Roman, French and Viking domination of the English people. There’s a lot of misery in the history of England, including periods when the people were hard-ridden slaves. I hope they were also able to enjoy love in their families and camaraderie with fellow townspeople—some of the potential goodness of being human—but I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I’ve recently watched some shows that trace the ancestry of people/celebrities and several came from slave or slave-owning families. I knew the white masters raped the women but I didn’t know they did it to increase the numbers of their slaves. Gotta stay focused on that almighty dollar!
I’ve been working on my young-adult fantasy novel. My niece read it and gave me some great ideas to give the story more substance, to make it whole. I have a Fantasy Reference guide from Writer’s Digest Books and, of course, it includes information from the medieval periods in England. The section on punishments is truly appalling: amputation of limbs, beheading, blinding, boiling in oil, branding, disemboweling, flogging, strangulation, crippling by cutting the hamstrings, hanging, impaling, use of an iron boot which had openings for pounding wood into people’s feet, pillory (chaining to pillars so that passersby could ridicule, abuse and rape), pulley (disjointing of all four limbs), and, of course, the rack (for being stretched apart). I read them to my daughter (who has moved in until the fall semester begins) and she said, “Well, mom, we don’t commit those crimes so none of that would’ve happened to us.” My brain is a bit addled and later I wished I’d said what I felt—that’s really not the point!
Fast-forward to America now—we don’t do those types of things to each other anymore (though our white ancestors, arriving on the shores of this land of incredible beauty and glorious open spaces, did terrible things they gloss over, to get rid of the native people who already lived on this continent). Today, our spirits may be broken by the everlasting maneuvers of the greedy; some of us are even homeless now—but the tortures listed above are considered ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment. (Now I know where that phrase came from.) Some of those tortures still occur in other parts of the world and you have to wonder: Where does that level of cruelty come from? If I was the god of us, I might give up. “Okay,” I might say, “we have to work on those design flaws. Let’s flood, burn or shake them off the planet and start over.”
It’s tempting to wonder if that’s not what’s happening—but I know a bigger picture has been painted by a loving Hand and that we each have chosen the circumstances of our birth places and periods of time to grow as human beings, moving out of the darkness and into the perpetual light; and to grow closer to and be more like our Creator, however we see Him/Her/Holy Spirit/Love.
While we have come quite the distance, we respond to advertisement-excitement for new designs of the latest and greatest stuff like crazed sheep. Like sheep, we’re not aware of what really goes on in Washington, D.C., no matter who is in office or the party that controls Congress. We’re still slaves of greedy ad-swamping manipulators but, hey, we’re not disemboweled or blinded anymore. That is certainly progress, but when do we move to the next, higher level of awareness of ourselves and of others, too? When will we see electronic gadgets, jewelry, fashions as just stuff with no true value? When will we see every person in our country and on the planet as a brother or a sister, deserving of love and respect, health care, education and creative opportunity? When will we finally understand that Mother Earth really is our loving mother?
I still say the greedy manipulators, whether corporate or political, should be banished to an isolated island (with coconut and banana trees) where they can duke it out amongst themselves. Let the rest of us be. Of course, they’re not going to leave on their own. Ever heard of peaceful resistance? You have and they called themselves the Occupy Movement. Who knows? Maybe they will come back and maybe this time we will join them.