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In the middle of the 19th century, slavery became so oppressive in the United States that it became the rallying call for a war. It was not what initiated the war, but the abolition of slavery has become what most people think the war was all about.
Do I have the right to own slaves? Do I have the right to be free? These two rights conflict. Remember, the responsibilities are greater than the rights. Therefore, there is no such right as that to own slaves.
Once we slaves have been set free then shouldn’t we be happy in that? Should we expect our former owners to do more than just liberate us. After all, most of us were sold into slavery in Africa by our neighbors. Perhaps even by our own family. Should we blame the one who sold us into slavery or the one who purchased us? Both are guilty. Some of us may have been slave traders who fell into bad times and in turn were sold.
Once we slave owners have owned slaves, then is justice served merely by releasing these slaves? Do we not have the responsibility to do more? How much more? Shouldn’t we educate, train, and hire those who were our slaves? Should we be able to rest before these slaves become equal to us in all ways? How many generations must pass before our responsibilities are fulfilled? Are we responsible for the actions of our ancestors?
We do have the responsibility to treat all equally. We former slave owners must treat the former slave with respect and honor. In like manner, although it is difficult, we former slaves must treat the former slave owners with respect and honor. Until all people treat all other people with respect and honor, then we are not ready for God’s world.
One tragedy of slavery was implemented by short-sighted slave owners. Education was often considered an enemy of the owner. It was at least discouraged, sometimes even punished. Many of the slaves were prevented from any form of education. There were some, though, that realized that an educated slave was more valuable than an uneducated slave.
Another is the heritage lost. As a child, you have been separated from your mother, from your ancestry, from all your family. You have no idea who you are, where you are from, what was important to your ancestors.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.
And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.
When I have to fill in a form that has a blank labeled: RACE, I know that the human race is not yet ready. As long as there is any consideration in any of our human interactions that involve color, creed, size, or shape; we are not ready. Our responsibilities outweigh our rights. We have the responsibility to ignore race.
1. Ephesians 6:5-9 New RSV
copyright© 2007 George L Snyder