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Are We Living In The Era Of Post-Modern Slavery?

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Are We Living In The Era Of Post-Modern Slavery?

By Yvonne Sam
Pride Contributing Columnist

Yvonne Sam -- newSadly, there is no candy–coated way to say this, hence, I am left with no alternative but to say it, boldly: in this bleak, broken, post-modern world, in which we live, we are all slaves. You, me, her, him, them. All of us.

This is the case for every living person in every home, every neighbourhood, every city, and, strange but true, every region of every country on the planet. I humbly submit to you that the more impassioned you disagree with my proffered explanation, then the more of a slave you probably are.

Contrary to what you may say or think, slavery is alive and well. Black or white, or both, or neither; rich or poor or in between; gay or straight; Liberal, Conservative or Independent; educated or uneducated; and religious or not, I am talking about you. I am speaking to you.

Allow me to usher you deeper into our individual and collective matrix. This truism of slavery is applicable to every tradition and every culture for every civilization, which has existed since human beings have walked the Earth.

As an institution, slavery is not simply relegated to thick, ridiculously-heavy, dust-covered, leather-bound books, sequestered deep within the bowels of scholarly libraries. Nor, was it just a phase, which Mankind went through before becoming enlightened enough to swear-off such an inhumane practice, forever and ever, amen.

Slavery did not begin with the British North American Act or the American Civil War, and it did not end with the Slavery Abolition Act of 1834, or the Emancipation proclamation of 1863.

My friends, postmodern slavery is neither a Canadian nor an American problem. Simply put and plainly spoken, it is a global one.

I can vividly visualize the involuntary shaking of heads in total disagreement, or the doubting Thomases smacking their lips in antipathy. That is fine. I will tell you about what you need to hear and not necessarily what you want to hear. There is a vast world of difference between the two — especially when you really don’t want to hear it.

We are slaves to technology. The majority of us are extremely uncomfortable being more than 6 inches away from our mobile phones, whenever we are awake. In fact, some of us even make it a pillow accessory. Many of us send and receive text messages and emails, while we are driving — knowing full well that not only is it against the law, but that it also endangers us, and everyone else on the road, at that time. We do it anyway.

The nuclear family in North America does not eat dinner together — not even on Sunday. Even if the individual members of a family gather at the dining room table at the same time for a meal, you can rest assured that somebody there is using an electronic device: a cellphone, an I-pad, an I-pod, a tablet, a laptop… something.

This is also the case on holidays. Not even Easter or Christmas can change our absolute reliance on technology. If you’re totally dependent on technology, you are a slave to technology.

We are also slaves to our jobs. Once upon a time in North America, an individual could graduate from high school on Friday evening, celebrate all weekend, get up Monday morning, and go to the local plant. Upon filling out a job application, that individual would be interviewed, hired, and asked to show up for work, first thing Tuesday morning.

If he/she performed well at the local plant, showed up on time every day, and maintained a good reputation, he/she could fully expect to work there for the next 30-35 years and retire with the gold watch and the life-long benefits package.

Those days are gone with the wind, the way of the dodo bird. Today you are very fortunate to have a job, and your employer knows that quite well. In fact, your employer can force you to work longer hours, without paying you overtime. Your employer can cut your benefits at any time, with little to no notice, without any fear whatsoever, because labor unions are all but extinct now.

No one dare complain about such things, because it is common circulating knowledge that your employer can fire and replace you with a kid, fresh out of college, who would not complain ever.

Our financial, professional, mental, and social health is intricately linked to our employment — where we work, what we do, and what we earn. If you are totally dependent on your job, you too are a slave.

We are slaves to politics, fashion, entertainment, sports, status, and on and on. Once you begin to grasp the pervasiveness of slavery in postmodern society, the rational thinking person is left with three questions:

[1] Do you acknowledge that you are a slave?

[2] To what, or to whom, are you enslaved?

[3] What are you prepared to do to secure your own freedom?

If your answers determine that you are not free, then you are subscribing to post-modern slavery. There ends the lesson.

Aleuta, the struggle continues.

Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.

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