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I was reading John Jakes book, Charleston and was impressed by his kinder and gentler handling of both slavery and abolition. While slavery had existed for thousands of years, the variety of slavery which developed in the southern U.S. and the Caribbean was certainly the most abominable the world had ever seen (and they each came to their own distinctive end with its own problems). Even so, simplistic and one sided portrayals of the issues (as in Uncle Tom's Cabin and most other recent descriptions) prevent fully understanding the issues related to slavery. No large human institution is ever completely good or bad and by including the kinder and gentler aspects of both slavery and abolition, one can also appreciate the more subtle and insidious effects of slavery, the way it eats at the soul for everyone involved with it. Sadly we are still living with the repercussions of the slavery almost 150 years after slavery's official end, though it was more than 150 years in developing, so it is a little understandable.


This also got me to thinking about why it was that such an awful form of slavery needed to come about just before the industrial revolution did away with any possible justification for slavery. The Sufi's (the more mystical of Moslems) have an idea of Shay-tahn (my own transliteration of the arabic pronunciation of satan). Shay-tahn is not God's enemy as that makes no sense. Shay-tahn is God's creation and God is all knowing and all powerful. Instead Shay-tahn is God's servant and, in a certain sense, our servant. Shay-tahn helps us by bringing up the ugliness in ourselves so that we can see it and deal with it (or perhaps have to see it and deal with it). So we needed to see slavery at its ugliest so that we could truly and deeply reject it and all that it stands for (which we are still doing, sadly enough). Similarly, Stalin and Hitler were necessary so that we could truly see the ugliness of totalitarian governments at their worse and reject that (which we are also still struggling with).


In a similar vein, it is possible that Al Queda and the bombing of a Shi'ite mosque in February of 2006 developed so that the people of Islam (and the rest of the world) can come to terms with terrorism (which has been an aspect of human behavior for thousands of years, though certainly in less extreme forms). Anyone who reads the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad with an open mind can only conclude that there is never any justification for the intentional and indiscriminate killing of innocent men, women, and children (under any circumstances), but especially when they are Moslems praying in a Mosque.

The sad thing is that people can so fill their hearts with hurt, frustration, anger, false pride, and hate that they can read these scriptures and completely misunderstand them. It is amazing how people can delude themselves, believing they are doing the right and moral thing when they are actually doing the opposite. I only hope that the people of Islam (and the rest of the world) can recognize the evil of terrorism and reject it. Perhaps we can even reject religious wars of any kind, though I really doubt that there have ever been any truly religious wars. Wars can have many causes, some even justifiable, but I don't think that any are really justified by religion. We just use religion as a label to hide from the real causes of war, something that we don't really want to admit. Click here to see the next rambling tale.

This page was last updated on November 8, 2007