We Were Slaves to Pharaoh
The 200th anniversary of the passage of a law in Great Britain abolishing the slave trade, celebrated this year, has drawn much attention to "the peculiar institution," as slavery was once called. Forums, exhibits and church services are being held in England (see Newsnotes). The film Amazing Grace, issued in February, depicted the decades-long efforts of William Wilberforce and his colleagues to abolish the trade (see Reviews).
The heinous and very profitable trafficking in human bodies was curbed but did not actually stop with the passing of the 1807 law. England was heavily invested in its war with Napoleon, and at first only two elderly ships were dispatched to patrol 3,000 miles of African coastline. Violations were numerous enough that in 1811, a further bill was passed by Parliament making slave-trading punishable by up to 14 years of penal transportation. Slavery itself was not to be abolished in the British empire until July of 1833, three days before the death of William Wilberforce, and thirty years before Abraham Lincoln signed the proclamation abolishing it in the Confederate states of the US. In some countries, it remained legal into the twentieth century.
Slavery--holding others as property, exploiting their bodies or their labor without recompense, under threat of violence--is illegal in all countries today. Unfortunately, it is nevertheless also thriving in scores of them. In Mauritania, West Africa, for example, it exists massively (and has for 800 years) in its traditional form, chattel slavery: persons are openly bought, sold, given away, willed to the next generation. It is based on racism and supported by a perverted form of Islam, in which slaves are taught that to serve their masters is to serve God. (Mainstream Islam actually has a better record than most major religions regarding race.) Laws in Mauritania prohibiting slavery are scarcely more than paper ordinances, and authorities look the other way.
The other three forms of slavery take a sociologically different form, feeding upon poverty and involving major trafficking. Ivory Coast is an example of forced-labor slavery. Desperate poverty in nearby states such as Mali results in children, especially boys about 11-16, being lured or stolen away by slavers with promises of jobs, and sold to farmers to work long hours picking cocoa beans and carrying the heavy sacks. They are locked up at night. Many are half starved and severely beaten if they are unable to perform as demanded, or if they try to run away. Since many of the farms are small and off the beaten track, it is easy for the hellish situation to go uncorrected. Documentaries in recent years have increased the efforts of various authorities and organizations to change the evil conditions, but results have fallen short of promises.
Ivory Coast produces nearly half of the world's cocoa. Some farms do not use slave labor, but when cocoa prices fall, slave labor increases. Cocoa beans from slave-worked farms and from farms staffed by free labor is mixed together, so that one can expect any bar of major-brand chocolate purchased in the US and Europe to be flavored with the blood of enslaved children. (Organic chocolate is much less likely to be slave-harvested, and fair-trade chocolate is by definition slave-free. Both will cost more.)
Bonded or debt slavery, including sex slavery, takes place when people from impoverished countries are promised good jobs, smuggled into wealthy countries, then faced with a hugely inflated fee for the smuggler's service. They are confined, isolated physically and/or psychologically, and kept in place by threats of violence. Some are given wages, but charged high "rent" and allowed to spend their money only at the "company store," where grossly inflated prices guarantee that they will never be able to pay off the debt. In southeast Asia, debt slavery traps millions and may involve whole families, parents passing on the unpayable debt to their children. In the United States debt slaves in many cases come from desperately impoverished peoples in Central America and/or Mexico, and end up harvesting fruit and vegetables, particularly in Florida. (Of course not all smuggled aliens are enslaved, though most are exploited.) Teens and women lured with promises of jobs and then enslaved as prostitutes in brothels can be sold over and over again, acquiring a new debt as soon as the previous one is paid off. If they become pregnant they may be forcibly aborted, or after birth their babies may be torn from their arms and sold.
Most people are still ignorant of the facts of human trafficking and enslavement, but with gradually increasing awareness and outrage, in some places efforts are being made to enforce the laws prohibiting them. For example, a boycott of Taco Bell from 2001-2003 on behalf of enslaved and other exploited tomato pickers ended with some improvement in their status. But for the most part, secrecy, fear, and language barriers make change difficult, and progress slow.
One form of slavery is still legal virtually everywhere: that of nonhuman animals. The status of these living, sentient beings as chattel, to be bought and sold, is taken for granted; correspondingly, an animal is often referred to as "it" rather than "she" or "he." That this is slavery is hard for most to see, partly because most nonhuman animals held as property in the "'first world" are not kept for their labor, but for the exploitation of their bodies.
The status of animals kept as "pets" is ambiguous. Those whom people adopt chiefly to benefit themselves, e.g. to guard their property, and whom they may callously abandon when their presence becomes inconvenient, are indeed slaves. But many are warmly loved, and some are taken in purely for the animal's sake; thus calling them slaves is very inappropriate. In order to raise consciousness on the subject, the organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) has for years led a campaign to phase out the objectionable terms "owners," "pets," and "it," substituting "caretaker," "animal companion" (a mouthful--how about "cat friend," "dog friend," etc.?) and "she" or "he." Some cities have agreed to put this new language into their ordinances, either as replacements for the old, or as alternatives. The matter may seem trivial at first glance, but it is an important part of awakening our culture from its moral coma regarding animals.
That in most cases keeping animals is indeed slavery is evident from the many disturbing similarities between animal enslavement and that of human beings. Marjorie Spiegel's little book The Dreaded Comparison describes some of these parallels in regard to the historic enslavement of Africans: capturing/kidnapping, branding, hellish transportation conditions, auctions and other sales leading to the destruction of family ties, collars, fetters, and muzzles, the secrecy of many abuses and tortures, claims that they are better off than in nature, denial that victims have much or any feeling, use of demeaning and/or euphemistic language. The deepest motivation in both cases is of course the addictive drive for Profit. (Some may resent the comparison, says Spiegel, but that may be because of an up-down worldview in which for one party to have value, another must be inferior.)
Two forms of slavery, that of "dairy" cows and of "layer" hens, bear a particular resemblance to human sexual slavery. Like humans kept as sex slaves, these female animals are kept for the exploitation of their sex and secondary-sex organs, and their offspring are stolen/kidnapped from them. Will Tuttle has pointed out in The World Peace Diet a broader link between the exploitation of cows and the objectification of women; for example, "just as cows are forced to have unnaturally large and swollen mammary glands to over-produce milk for the dairy industry, the resulting foods produce unnaturally large mammary glands in the women who consume them--a feature that is prized in our herding culture and further reinforces women's status as mere objects for the eyes of men." The patriarchal herding mentality "sees both animals and women as 'meat,' to be milked and eaten in one case and used sexually in the other." He also points up that just as the crowded, stinking, stressful conditions in which these and other animals are kept make them sick, consuming their products and their bodies makes human beings sick. We become the victims of our victims.
This is the season of Passover, the Jewish festival celebrating God's freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Exodus is arguably the founding story of all three of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), because it shows that the heart of God is compassionate love. Unlike many pagan deities, God identifies not with the powerful in society but with the exploited, and delivers them "with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm." In the liturgy of the Passover Seder, those present are reminded that Exodus is not merely something that happened thousands of years ago; rather, all who celebrate the festival must acknowledge that what happened to these distant ancestors happens to us today. The implication is that all in the Abrahamic faiths are called to take "the view from below," to empathize with the slave, and rejoice that our God is a God who wills to free those held in bondage.
With the passage of time, as political and social changes bring new forms of enslavement and exploitation, God calls prophets to intervene and to renew Exodus. Like Moses they are enjoined to speak truth to corrupt power, even though it be the powerful of God's people; speak comfort and release to the slaves and the afflicted; and announce God's will for a commonwealth of compassion, justice, and peace on earth. Exodus cannot remain locked in the past: it is for all time.
Most Christians give little thought to the fact that Jesus saw himself as a prophet in this tradition. In Luke's story of the onset of his ministry, Jesus cites Isaiah 61:
The spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed . . .
His execution at the time of Passover, at the hands of the Roman overlords and their creatures the Temple authorities, (not the Jewish people), was the answer of the Pharaoh of his day to Jesus' prophetic proclamation of the Kingdom/Commonwealth of God. His resurrection was God's response, "with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm," to the violence that enforced the rule of the new Pharaoh. It proclaims God's will that we be liberated both from human slavelords, and from bondage to the fear of death.
Every Exodus message comes through human minds, with human limitations. While a prophet's word condemns one form of exploitation, it may take another form for granted, or even reinforce it with its imagery. For example, in the Exodus narrative the Israelites' lambs, and the horses of the Egyptions, are seen as disposable. Yet the core of the prophetic critique remains, a divine gift out of which later prophets are called to develop, correct, and deepen the message of earlier ones.
Thus Exodus is indeed good news for animals. Throughout the centuries occasional Spirit-inspired voices crying in the wilderness have protested cruelty to animals, because they are included in the sphere of God's love. Most have barely been heard, and seemed forgotten. But in the last thirty-five years, prophets proclaiming release for these captives are growing both more audible and more radical. We are becoming harder to ignore. Whatever the discouragements, we must remember that the word of liberation from Pharaoh is not finally ours, but God's.
--Gracia Fay Ellwood
Derived from '21st Century Slaves," National Geographic, Sep. 2003,
John Robbins, "Is There Slavery In Your Chocolate?"
"Slavery 101," and other online sources
SET ALL FREE: A Service of Penitence on the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act
Several churches joined together in a service of penitence held on March 24, '07, at Liverpool Cathedral. It was amply attended, with many civic dignitaries present. One Friend from my Monthly Meeting read a piece from Judaism.
There was a wonderful gospel choir and African dancers and drummers. A West Indian pastor read out the names of slaves once resident in a Liverpool parish, punctuated by drum beats. This was very moving.
The sermon was preached by James Jones, the bishop. He recounted that when news of the passing of the bill to end the slave trade in the British empire reached Liverpool, slave ship captains rioted and forced two slaves to walk in the streets with placards denouncing abolition. Bishop James made mention of John Newton and why, after having seen the light and become Christian, he had for some years carried on as captain of slave ships; his conscience had become so inured that it had died and its resurrection took some time. The sermon also dealt with present-day slavery.
There followed a ceremony at the Mersey, to cast roses in the river and remember the many thousands of enslaved Africans whose misery had made the merchants of Liverpool, and other British cities, rich.
Appropriately, Liverpool has sister cities in Nigeria and the state of Virginia.
--Contributed by Marian Hussenbux
Court Declares Horse Slaughter Illegal
Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2007) - Today United States District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly held that the slaughter of horses in America violates federal law. In her opinion, issued in response to a lawsuit filed in February 2006 by the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL) and others, Judge Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to conduct an environmental impact review of its decision to allow the continuation of horse slaughter.
"Tonight, after years of legislation and litigation, America's three horse slaughterhouses can no longer kill horses for human consumption," states Chris Heyde, deputy legislative director for the Society for Animal Protective Legislation. "We call on Illinois-based Cavel International to work with the humane and rescue communities to find permanent safe homes for the hundreds of horses who were slated for slaughter, to give them a second chance at life."
--Contributed by Karen Borch
Despite decades of protest, April continues to be the month of massacre of baby and juvenile seals in northeastern Canada. Let us hold this scene of horror in prayer and in the Divine Light, that all concerned--including the wearers of the stolen fur, who make it profitable--will see the Light.
"Yet saddest of all fates, surely, is to have lost that sense of the holiness of life altogether; that we commit the blasphemy of bringing thousands of lives to a cruel and terrifying death or of making those lives a living death -- and feel nothing."
-- Rev. Dr. John Austin Baker
Bishop of Salisbury
Contributed by Lorena Mucke
"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not created for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men."
"Let your continual mercy, O Lord, kindle in your Church the never-failing gift of love, that, following the example of your servant William Wilberforce, we may have grace to defend the poor, and maintain the cause of those who have no helper; for the sake of him who gave his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."
--Collect for the Feast of William Wilberforce, July 29
Book of Common Prayer
Contributed by Benjamin Urrutia
"True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to evil power. It is rather a courageous confrontation of evil by the power of love."
--Martin Luther King Jr.
Contributed by Judy Carman
Film Review: Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace, A film by Walden Media. Written by Steven Knight. Directed by Michael Apted. Starring Ioan Gruffudd as William Wilberforce, Ciaran Hinds as Sir Banastre Tarleton, Rufus Sewell as Thomas Clarkson, Youssou N'Dour as Olaudah Equiano, Romola Garai as Barbara Spooner, and Albert Finney as John Newton.
The film begins its story in 1797 as Wilberforce, traveling by carriage in a heavy rain, sees beside the road two men viciously whipping and kicking a horse who has collapsed from exhaustion. He stops the carriage, gets out and quietly suggests that if they let the horse alone, he will get up in time. One of the men recognizes the famous parliamentarian, and they decide that taking his advice is the better part of prudence (and the horse does get up). Clearly Wilberforce is not a one-issue person. He invites needy persons in for meals, sometimes severely trying his kitchen staff. He takes in stray animals-- a brown hare and a decrepit dog recline comfortably on chairs in his drawing room, while a perching crow looks on. One character refers to his co-founding of the SPCA (actually, this took place later, in 1824).
One or two critics have complained that the film seems to de-emphasize Wilberforce's evangelical Christian convictions as the source of his reforming energies. This seems a bit hard to believe. We are told of his transforming encounter with God, and see his enthusiastic love for nature as full of God; we see him standing up on a table in a room full of parliamentarians, singing "Amazing Grace;" we hear him praying; we hear him agonizing about whether to quit Parliament and go into full-time religious work. We see him seeking the guidance of ascetically-garbed John Newton, the converted slaver whom he finds mopping the floor in his church, and being roundly told to serve God where he was, in politics. (It might be added that Albert Finney's portrayal of Newton is superb, almost stealing the show.)
Another sequence of events in 1797 that gets its due is Wilberforce's courtship of Barbara Spooner. The 38-year old Wilberforce and the 20-year-old Spooner are "set up" by matchmaking friends Henry and Marianne Thornton, and are both annoyed enough to try to find something to argue about instead. But it becomes evident that they are made for one another; her passion for social justice, especially abolition, matches his. (In fact, they were "set up" by a different friend, fell in love at first sight, got engaged within eight days of meeting, and married within six.) Barbara strongly encourages her husband to resume his efforts at a time when he and his major colleagues had virtually given up.
The viewer who has doubts about the pure motivations of the protagonists--can they all be unblemished saints?--will be delighted by the way in which victoryis finally assured. In 1806 attorney James Stephens announces to his colleagues his new idea: "We cheat." They have another member of Parliament propose a patriotic bill that will allow the search and seizure of ships in the high seas flying a neutral flag, usually that of the USA. Ostensibly aimed at enemy French ships flying false colors, it would make possible the seizure of British slavers in disguise. As the bill quickly moves forward in the half-empty Commons, slavery-supporter Sir Banastre Tarleton (Ciaran Hinds' performance makes hating this villain a pleasure) smells something unsavory and rushes out to collect his colleagues, only to find that most have generously been given tickets to the races. The bill passes, and in a matter of months, two-thirds of the British slave merchants have lost the financial means to bribe their Parliamentarians. (Of course some ships flying the Stars and Stripes really were American, and the law unfortunately also led to the War of 1812.)
Thus came about the victory of 23 February 1807, when Parliament voted to ban the sale and transportation of human beings as property by British subjects anywhere in the world. It is Wilberforce's great moment, and he is ringingly applauded. Gruffudd expresses well his character's joyous incredulity; he seems hardly to know what to do with himself.
Wilberforce suffered from chronic colitis, and from time to time we see him double up in severe pain. It would be distressingly ironic if his colitis was triggered by consumption of dairy products and flesh, as, according to John McDougall, the main forms of this disorder are. Unfortunately, Wilberforce seems not to have connected the dots between his compassion for the suffering animals he saw, and what happens to other animals in the shambles; at a dinner in the film he is seen carving a fowl.
We are shown a hellish scene in a Jamaican "boiling house" where sugar cane is refined in huge vats. The flames suddenly rage out of control, burning to death young slaves tending the vats. As the abolitionists point out, every lump of sugar that folk back in England put into their tea was laced with the blood of children. Similarly, the milk people today put into their tea is laced with the blood of the children of the cows, with vast and unimaginable anguish and death.
Thanks to amazing grace and dogged work, Wilberforce and his colleagues were able to continue amassing their dreadful evidence decade after decade, to pioneer techniques such as the mass petition and the boycott, and to cope with abuse and other resistance in high places, without letting it destroy their spirit or their determination. This film can inspire present-day abolitionists to"go and do likewise," laboring with both mind and heart, letting nothing defeat us, and trusting to the power of divine love.
Film Review: Happy Feet
This film, important both in its portrayal of animals as beings akin to humans and in its ecological message, has been reviewed previously in PT. Happily, its messages have been underlined by its winning of the 2007 Academy Award for best animated feature film. The following is a digest of the review originally written for our December 2006 issue, but received too late for inclusion. To mark the film's appearance on DVD, we publish it now for the benefit of those those who intended to see the film on the big screen but didn't get to it.
Happy Feet. A Warner Brothers film. Produced by Doug Mitchell et. al. Directed by George Miller (who directed Babe). Starring Elijah Wood as Mumble, Elizabeth G. Daily as Baby Mumble.
Production of Happy Feet began three years before The March of the Penguins won the 2005 Academy Award for best documentary. It is a happy synchronicity that Feet appears to be a sequel to March. The computer-generated visuals are more striking, and the birds sing like humans instead of like seagulls, but otherwise the beginning of the story, courtship and the father's loving incubation of the egg, is familiar.
Then things get less familiar. Even before Mumble is fully hatched from his shell, he begins to tap-dance. The other Emperors do not dance, beyond some circling and swaying, though they all sing beautifully. When "the voice of the penguin is heard in the land," it is by their songs that the birds recognize their loved ones and are reunited with them. How will Mumble, who can't sing, find True Love? Maybe by dancing? The community cannot relate to this, and Mumble is disdained and ostracized. During his first solitary adventure, he is almost killed by a Skua, but saves himself by distracting the would-be attacker, a garrulous old bird, into telling his story about having been victim of an Alien Abduction. This is Mumble's first news of Aliens, but not the last.
Graduation time from singing school comes for the young penguins, though not for Mumble, whose plumage remains juvenile. His cacophonous attempts to join the singing result in his being politely silenced. Saddened, the young Emperor goes off alone, and after another adventure with a predator, finally makes some penguin friends of a different subspecies, the Adelies. This kind of penguin is found not only in Antarctica but also in Chile and Argentina--so of course they have a Hispanic accent. (I was much impressed with Robin Williams' convincing rendition of Ramon's lines--one would never guess he is not Hispanic.)
Williams also plays the role of Lovelace, of the Rockhopper race of penguins. Lovelace, a fraudulent guru, claims to be channeling spirit guides who gave him his "necklace," a plastic six-pack holder caught around his neck, which is beginning to strangle him. Mumble shrewdly guesses that these "guides" are none other than the Skua's Aliens.
Mumble returns with his Hispanic friends to his old neighborhood, where he courts his beloved Gloria by dancing and actually succeeds. But soon he is accused of having, through his innovations, caused the increasing scarcity of fish. Mumble suspects--again correctly--that the Aliens are the real cause. He persuades Lovelace and his Hispanic friends to trek with him to the area where the Aliens prevail, to stop their plundering. On this Forbidden Shore, after another predator adventure during which Lovelace is freed from his necklace, the penguins do encounter the culprit: a monstrous Brobdingnagian Ship into which the Aliens are scooping vast numbers of fish. When it sails off, foolhardy Mumble swims after them, planning to "appeal to their better nature."
But instead he ends up in a marine exhibit--very plastic, very artificial--with still other species of penguins. From the penguins' point of view we viewers look at the Aliens, staring stupidly in through the glass, and the poet's wish is granted--we "see oursels as ithers see us." Mumble makes his desperate appeal to their better nature. But when the scene flips to the Aliens' point of view, all that is heard are the cacophonous squawks of a "birdbrained" creature. Mumble's appeal has failed.
BUT--there is a bridge across this chasm further down than words. A little girl Alien taps on the glass--and what effect does the sound of tapping have on a tap-dancer? The story is not over yet--there is still song and dance to come, and in it, Hope. As Emily Dickinson told us, "Hope is the thing with feathers"--and penguins are fine-feathered fellows. . . .
Happy Feet, highlighted by its Academy Award, speaks to a world in which ignorance and greed have brought us to the beginnings of meltdown--and awakens our Better Nature, a Something that will not let us give up.
Red & Black Bean and Corn Salad
1 ½ cups kidney beans, cooked
1 ½ cups black beans, cooked
1 ½ cups fresh or frozen yellow corn kernels, at room temperature
½ red bell pepper, diced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. seasoned rice vinegar
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup quinoa, rinsed very well
2 ½ cups water
½ tsp. sea salt
In a medium –large serving bowl combine beans, corn and red bell pepper. Toss with olive oil and seasoned rice vinegar. Adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper. Set aside to allow flavors to meld.
In the meantime, bring 2 ½ cups water to a boil; add salt and quinoa. Cook on medium – low heat until water has absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Pour into serving dish; and allow to cool to room temperature.
Serve bean, corn and red pepper mixture over beds of quinoa. Drizzle with additional olive oil and rice vinegar as desired.
This is a delicious way to enjoy the whole grain quinoa. To save time canned beans may be used. The salad is colorful and delightful.
--- Angela Suarez
Antipasto al Verdure Arroste (Roasted Vegetable Appetizer)
1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise, ¼ inch slices
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise, ¼ inch slices
2 garden fresh tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
1 carrot, cut diagonally into ¼ inch slices
4 scallions, cleaned
¼ lb. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 head of escarole, cut into 4 lengthwise pieces
1 head of raddichio, cut into 8 lengthwise pieces
½ yellow sweet bell pepper, chunked
½ red sweet bell pepper, chunked
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
4T. dry white wine
2 T. spring water
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Turn on broiler. Place all of the vegetables in a roasting pan. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, white wine, water, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the vegetables. Stir to coat. Broil 12 -15 minutes; stirring occasionally. Serve hot with fresh baked crusty bread as an antipasto.
Enjoy these wonderfully roasted vegetables as warmer weather is upon us. Make sure to use the freshest vegetables available. Bon Apetit!
---- Angela Suarez
Sausson (Olive Spread of Provence)
1/3 cup Niçoise or Gaeta olives, pitted
1/3 cup black oil-cured olives, pitted
1/3 cup blanched almonds, coarsely ground
2 – 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T. coarsely chopped fresh mint
1 tsp. fennel seeds
¾ tsp. kelp powder
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth and well blend. Place in a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover with plastic and store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Spread on toasted rustic bread or baguettes.
This is a unusually rich and delicious spread that is excellent served on rustic toasts. Guests have always enjoyed this appetizer at parties.
I grew up in a family of seven siblings--four sisters and three brothers. We discovered at an early age that we were all very anemic. This was confusing to my parents since we ate very well. My sister Mary, the second oldest, was extremely anemic, so ill that she had to be hospitalized, and almost died at an early age. It wasn't until later that the doctors diagnosed us all with a hereditary condition called thalacemia minor, or Mediterranean anemia, for which there is no treatment other than blood transfusions. This is because the red blood cell is defective and our bodies are unable to metabolize iron well.
In the meanwhile, however, my mother was determined to get us healthy by preparing foods high in iron, which meant cooking lots of red meat. Also, she used to line us up and give us huge spoonfuls of a molasses concoction with cod liver oil and iron. Imagine a Norman Rockwell painting with the kids scowling in reaction to the medicine's obnoxious taste, and you will have our family.
Perhaps this situation explains why I didn't like eating meat as a child. I was a sensitive little girl, concerned about why we humans needed to kill animals in order to survive. In driving past farms, I'd seen these wonderful beings and felt a spiritual connection when looking into their eyes.
I was a flower child in the 60s and 70s and influenced by the vegetarian and natural health movements of that era. First I cut out eating red meat, then chicken. I still ate fish and turkey, however, for years.
In the past year, I've stopped eating turkey and am phasing out fish. I'd always eaten lots of cheese, and this was a difficult one for me, but I am growing towards becoming vegan. I don't crave cheese any more and am working on giving up all dairy products. I am concerned about the earth's environment and how big corporate agribusiness is misusing the earth and abusing animals in raising them for human consumption.
As humans evolve spiritually, it has become obvious that it is not necessary to abuse and eat animals for our survival. We have learned that we can live healthy lives and treat animals with the respect and compassion they deserve as fellow creatures existing with us on our beautiful planet. Anyone who has companion animals knows what beautiful and sensitive beings our furred and feathered cousins are.
Pioneer: Elizabeth Coltman Heyrick
Elizabeth Coltman was born Leicester in 1769 into a wealthy Unitarian family, and her early life was one of comfort and pleasure, including education in the arts. In her teens Elizabeth married John Heyrick, a Methodist lawyer. Their stormy marriage was brought to end by John's death from a heart attack when Elizabeth was 26. A childless widow, she moved back to the family house. She also became a Quaker. Armed with an allowance from her father, Elizabeth threw herself into social improvement, including education, prison reform, and campaigns against cruelty to animals.
It was for anti-slavery work that she became famous. Having learned about the plight of human slaves from her brother, Samuel, an anti-slavery campaigner, Elizabeth organized a sugar boycott in her native Leicester and helped to form the Birmingham Ladies’ Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves. The group would subsequently change its name to the Female Society for Birmingham.
Heyrick and many of the women of her day were deemed more radical than their male counterparts on the slave issue.In 1824 she published her seminal pamphlet "Immediate Not Gradual Abolition," which condemned slavery as sinful and called for immediate emancipation in the British colonies. These views were in clear contrast with the official policy of the male-controlled Anti-Slavery Society which took a gradualist approach. Fearing the pamphlet would do more harm than good, the latter group sought to stifle it. William Wilberforce called for leaders of the movement not to speak at women’s anti-slavery societies, but the pamphlet was nonetheless distributed and discussed at meetings across the country. In 1830 Heyrick submitted a motion to the National Conference of the Anti-Slavery Society calling for it to struggle for a direct end to slavery in the British colonies.
To persuade the male leadership to change its mind on gradual abolition she suggested that the Female Society should threaten to withdraw its funding of the Anti-Slavery Society if it did not support this resolution. As the Female Society for Birmingham was one of the largest local society donors to central funds, it had a great influence over the network of ladies’ associations which supplied over a fifth of all donations to the Anti-Slavery Society. Her pressure gained momentum, and at the conference in May 1830, the Society agreed to drop the words “gradual abolition” from its title and to support the Female Society’s plan for a new campaign to bring about immediate abolition. Elizabeth Heyrick died in 1831 and thus did not live to see the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act passed in Parliament.
In her pamphlet she writes: “The enemies of slavery have hitherto ruined their cause with the senseless cry of gradual emancipation. It is marvelous that the wise and the good should have suffered themselves to have been imposed upon by this wily artifice of the slave holder, - for with him must the project of gradual emancipation have first originated. The slave holder knew very well that his prey would be secure, so long as the abolitionists could be cajoled into a demand for gradual instead of immediate abolition. He knew very well, that the contemplation of a gradual emancipation would beget a gradual indifference to emancipation itself. He knew very well, that even the wise and the Good, may, by habit and familiarity, be brought to endure and tolerate almost any thing.”
--Contributed by Marian Hussenbux
Song of the King of the Eboes
Oh [my] good friend, Mr. Wilberforce, make [us] free!
God Almighty thank ye! God Almighty thank ye!
God Almighty, make [us] free!
Buckra in this country no make [us] free:
What Negro for to do? What Negro for to do?
Take force by force! Take force by force!
To be sure! to be sure! to be sure!
--Rallying song from a defeated insurrection
Jamaica, ca. 1817
I KNOW what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals —
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting —
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!
--Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1907)
Paul Laurence Dunbar was the son of two escaped slaves. This poem was published in Lyrics of the Hearthside by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1899 , and inspired the title to Maya Angelou's autobiography.
Faith's Review and Expectation
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!
Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home . . . .
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.
--John Newton, 1725-1807
John Newton's first conversion took place in during a severe storm in 1748, seven years before he left the slave trade behind him. During that interval he improved the conditions of the slaves in his ships--an example of welfarism--but by 1755, after a second and deeper conversion, he realized that his livelihood was incompatible with his faith. This delay is probably the source of the legend that he wrote his famous hymn in the cabin of his slave ship. In fact he wrote it during the 1760s, when he was curate of the parish of Olney in Buckinghamshire, the close friend of fellow hymnwriter William Cowper (PT Dec. 2006). Later he was to be rector of St. Mary Woolnoth in London, and it was here that he served as the mentor of William Wilberforce. Newton was an very powerful preacher, drawing huge crowds.
Note that the well-known stanza beginning "When we've been there," with its several grammatical misfortunes, did not come from Newton's pen. Newton was a moderately competent hymnwriter, but lacked the power he could have commanded had he used for this poem imagery from his grim past. Suppose he had developed his theme with something like the following:
A slave to sin my heart I sold
And bound my will in chains;
But red with blood was all my gold,
And foul with filthy stains.
A tempest wild swept o’er my bark
With billows mountain high,
The troughs were deep as hell and dark,
And far from port was I.
Then from the hold did Christ arise
And bade the winds be still;
He touched and healed my blinded eyes
And freed my captive will.
The Peaceable Table is
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Illustration of Editorial: Underground Railroad by Kolongi
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