Slave and Master at the Same Damn Time

We are  raised to believe that we are the best. It is a coping mechanism that helps us get through life. Competition has created innovation in technology and art. It has also led to the darker side of humanity, our need to subjugate others, to believe that we know better than they how they should live their lives.

It is easier to build a pyramid if you have slaves. it is easier to govern a society if you have rules and the ability to punish transgressions in any manner you choose. It is easier to raise up a culture if you have guidelines like religion. Those things are all true. It’s also true that none of us is really better than any other, no matter how much we wish we were. We all come out basically the same. Sure, there are outliers. Geniuses, and people with reduced mental capacity. Born athletes, and people with physical handicaps. But when it comes down to it, none of us is really any better than anyone else.

The “lower” classes understand this a little better than the “upper” classes. The “upper” classes tend to govern by making rules, or even forcing the “lower” classes to do what they want. The “lower” classes take their power from numbers. Eventually, they tire of the rules placed on them and that is when we have revolution. In order to balance the disparity between rich and poor, upper and lower classes, humanity invented something called manners. Manners are when you act towards others as though you are equal to them. Manners are often forgotten or pushed aside, especially when the few want to take power over the many in order to accomplish their goals.

Manners follow game theory. Game theory is the idea that you will have better long-term success by taking your turn and trying to act in a way that helps both  your opponent and yourself, rather than trying to conquer your opponent outright. This is called compromise.

Recently I have read about a culture that still believes in slavery. They cite religious reasons and it certainly suits their quest for power. It is a sign of a culture that is doomed to fail.

Humanity has progressed past the point where slavery is a viable option. Slavery is not easy to get away from. The culture I speak of  will discover this eventually, to their peril. Slavery is a particularly difficult institution to stamp out. Trying to get away from it causes wars. The emancipation of serfs led to the Russian Revolution. Agrarian reform led to the Spanish Civil War and all sorts of messes in South America. Let us take for example our own founding fathers, who claimed that all men were created equal. It took them more than 150 years after making this statement to do away with slavery in our country. It cost countless lives. We still live with some of the hatred those times created. Were our founding fathers hypocrites? No. Slavery is both economic and social. The truth is slavery is just very difficult to stamp out.

It is up to all of us to realize that we are all both slaves and masters. It is up to all of us to behave with manners and civility. It is up to all of us to set aside goals which can only be accomplished by the subjugation of others, and learn to compromise for the long-term health of all humanity.

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