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Bondage


I read a book by Frederick Douglas called My Bondage and My Freedom. Frederick Douglas was born a slave in America. In his book he describes some of the methods that were used to keep the African American people in bondage. He told of their lack of education. He said the slaveholders in the south knew that if the slaves were to increase in their understanding that they would no longer be content to stay where they were. But he said it was more than just education. They were also required to sing while they worked. This singing kept their minds occupied. According to the "masters", a slave with his mind unoccupied would start thinking too much and decide he could escape. So the slave drivers would whip the slaves to keep them singing all through the day, thus keeping their minds occupied. And they didn't stop with that. The slave holders only gave them a one or two days off from work every year. This was to keep the slaves barely content with their current state of life. But on those few precious days that they were “off work”, the masters gave the slaves all the alcohol they wanted to drink. They actually encouraged them to drink. The slave that didn’t drink, was seen through skeptical eyes because he had too much time to think while being sober during that one day off. He might enjoy his “freedom” a little too much and use that time to find out how he could become free indeed. What really stood out to me was that the slaves were kept busy all their waking hours. There wasn’t a moment in their day that they didn’t have something to do, and when their tasks were not requiring all of their brain power, they were forced to use their minds in some meaningless, thought occupying way. Either singing or intoxication. Just enough to keep them content, just enough to keep them from thinking, just enough to keep them where they were. And who can blame the slave for staying where he was? He was not allowed the opportunity to think about his life. Any slave who did was severely punished.



My mind came instantly to today. We have such extreme freedom today, no one is forcing us to do anything. However, there are so many in bondage, unhappy with their life. Many folks feel stuck where they are. There are many who desire more freedom. Yet we stay in our same rut and never get out. Why is that? I had an amazing realization from the wise words of Frederick Douglas. The slaves remained in slavery because they were forced to never give meaningful thought to their life- never allowed to imagine the possibilities that laid beyond their reality. Sadly, we stay in the rut we are in because we voluntarily choose to never think about our life. We occupy all of our waking hours with “being busy” and don’t take the time to really reflect on where we are. The few times we have "down time", we occupy it with mindless entertainment or drown out our own mind with drugs, drinking, or addictive social media. So we mindlessly go through our life, never getting anywhere and yet never happy with where we are either. There is more to life than this emptiness! You can shake free from the mind occupiers. Consider this your call to take a moment and reflect on your life. Put down anything that will take away your attention. Turn off anything that will draw your eyes or ears. You may have to go outside to get away from all of the distractions. Find a quiet place. Be still. Reflect on your life. Experience your surroundings as you have a moment to find peace. What do you like? What do you want to change? This will take practice. At first, your mind will run wild! You may have songs come to your mind and occupy your thinking space. This is because you are used to something always happening. Persevere through this. Don't try to think of nothing at all and just exist during this still time. No indeed! This is a time to think and reflect on your life. Not thinking anything would be just what the slaves were forced to do on their day off while intoxicated. No, instead you must think. If you are a believer, it would be a good time to pray. Pray for understanding about your life. That your eyes would be opened. That you could truly see what your life looks like. And for strength to change.


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