Monday, September 22, 2014

Thoughts on the movie, "12 Years A Slave"

Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to watch "12 Years A Slave". The Internet Movie Database provides the following synopsis:
"In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery."
It was a brutal and fascinating journey from freedom to slavery to freedom again. What really blows my mind is that the movie is based on a true story. In the end, no one really knows how Solomon died or when. But we see how he lived and found the determination to find salvation rather than despair. He found freedom in his own mind and chose to shine by his talents and abilities than to subject to abject humiliation. He kept his eyes on the prize, studiously and consistently for 12 years until he found freedom.

What I also found striking about movie were the antagonists, the slave owners, and their subordinates, and how they imposed their false piety upon others. We see them in the movie, giving sermons to their slaves, as if somehow, being in the bondage of slavery and listening to the sermon would somehow save them from the devil. I wondered to myself, if that were such a great and compelling duty, why more white men did not submit themselves to slavery.

In the movie, I also saw a white slave owner pretend his monogamy to his wife while raping the slave women, yet still, he felt so righteous. The same slave owner, preferring to be called "Master", imposed severe violence on his slaves, as if he were the one, the only, God. From whipping to hanging, the masters knew the tools of their trade well.

It is with great sadness that I saw in the movie, how false piety can be used as an excuse to impose slavery upon others. With each historical drama that I see about that period of our great nation's history, I see how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. For there are still people in the South who believe it is right to suppress or eliminate the vote of people of any color. They still believe it is their right to discriminate and segregate people of color from that who they deem most holy, the white man, irrespective of his sins.

The movie reminded me of how we are all connected and that we cannot impose pain or imprisonment upon another, without doing the same thing to ourselves. That is why I try, with much success, to err on the side of peace.
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