There is a story a Teacher of mine once told me to help me cope with a situation where I was fairly powerless.
The story takes place in the days of American slavery, and stars a slave who was somewhat famous for knowing things he could not know; A Magician of sorts. His owner became proud of this “possession” and liked to show him off to his friends. The old slave would guess what they had in their pockets, what they had had for dinner, and on and on. Then one day, a neighboring Master brought over a wooden box and asked him to guess what was in it. The old slave thought and thought- and finally, giving up, he said, “shoot massa, you sho got dis ol’ coon dis time”
The white man was stunned- because he had a raccoon in the box.
The lesson is strange and dodgy- but I think it boils down to, well an accident- but one caused by the slaves own ability to demean himself, calling himself a coon, an animal, when he knew he was more. The moral is that when you are the downtrodden, nothing is shameful, so long as it helps you to survive, or get ahead. And playing into the lowly role set up for you, in this case playing into the prejudices of those who hold power over you, can in fact be a way to gain yourself power.
We are all slaves, but that does not mean that we cannot be free. Most of us are in economic bondage. Real, and complete. Do you love your job? Is how you make money what you’ve always wanted to do? Do you have a boss you hate? Would you quit your job if you could? starting to make sense? They used to call it wage slavery. Now they call it a life.
Slavery is a scale, a spectrum. We are all on it at some bandwidth, although we Americans in modern times, are on the lighter side.But the story is not an excuse. It is a lesson from African American Folklore told to me to help cope with powerlessness, something everyone experiences in one form or another, and told to you because I feel it to be valuable. Learn from the wisdom of those who were slaves in the harshest sense- Then you will be able to deal with not being in complete control of your own life.
There is nowhere to go live away from society. Every single square inch of usable land in the world is owned and trespassers will be shot. Sure rich people have it easy, but what about poor people? Poor blacks have it the worst. The country and circumstance took all of their economic opportunities, industrial mostly, away from them. Then someone introduced crack into the ghetto, and the government created drug laws that insure a third of the male African American population will spend their lives in jail. What we are experiencing now is a subtle slavery. No chains or beatings (except in jail,) but nonetheless very real.
However, freedom has nothing to do with your circumstantial situation. The mind always has the potential to be free. Even in the harshest slavery conditions. But I also think it’s important not to run around wearing rose colored glasses saying, “gee we live in a democracy and are allowed certain choices, of course we’re free.” Because acknowledging those who have power over your life is the only way to deal with them mentally and emotionally.