Tag Archives: William Lloyd Garrison

Have we surrendered too soon?

Some readers have asked that I be more reasonable and in balance. I have replied, “In face of injustice I do not wish to be reasonable or in balance.”

I think of William Lloyd Garrison, the Abolitionist leader on Slavery in America who in 1831 wrote:

“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to think or speak or write with moderation.

“No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm. Tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of a ravisher. Tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen, but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard.”

As for me, I do not seek to tear down all institutions, although many need to be discarded as evil. I wish to tear down only those that unjustly enslave our people.

I do not believe all corporations are evil. But the corporate form induces evil because it does not attach human responsibility to the corporations’ immense power. Those who govern the corporate machine must be made responsible for the abuse of its unbridled power. Too often its responsibility to those it injures is as if one shoots a bullet into his neighbor and then blames only the gun.

Bill wrote “Many of us cannot see that we are enslaved. Being told that we are in that state is a foreign concept, one that the brain cannot process. It may take a while for the idea to sink in. It would almost be akin to being told that the people you believe to be your parents are not, in fact, your parents.”

I agree. That is the danger. Unless we recognize our servitude we can never escape it.

We have been told from the moment we could understand the words that there is “liberty and justice for all.” We cannot bear to hear that the promise has been broken, that, indeed, the fruit of the promise was never delivered in the first place.

Yet in America the occasional slave can become the slave master. That is the throbbing, luring advertisement of our system. It is possible, as all things are possible, that the poor kid from the projects can become the CEO of Cornflakes and enslave his neighbors.

The term, “slavery” is too broad to be understood. We are enslaved by religion, by our employers, by the bank, by the credit card companies, by our promises to our spouses, by our duty to our children, by a stale belief system imposed on us by parents and teachers.

We are enslaved by our negligence regarding our health, by our inability to think without the aid of our slave masters, the corporation, that teaches us what to buy and how to pay for it. We are enslaved by marketers, who tell us what we must wear and the car we must drive to be hip, by politicians who themselves are enslaved by corporate money who tell us what wars we must fight and that we must, to be loyal Americans, sacrifice the lives or our children and the lives of those our children are directed to kill.

We are enslaved by unjust laws and a judicial system that will not deliver justice. We are enslaved….I am already weary and I have only begun this bill of particulars.

Slavery is of two types—that which is imposed on us by outside forces over which we have no control, and that which is self imposed. In the end, much of the slavery we suffer has been a matter of choice. Is it not more comfortable to be a slave?

The truth is I have told you nothing you do not already know. Already you know that perfect freedom is perfect nothingness. To approach it is pure terror. We call it death.

We conduct the war against our own enslavement from within. Our freedoms are the spoils of that carnage. Freedom cannot be given except as we capture it in ourselves. May I ask: Do we surrender too soon?

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