The Slave Within
Are we enslaved by the modern world? Have we, in the process of freeing ourselves, inadvertently oppressed ourselves? You might be surprised and ask how? How have we oppressed and enslaved ourselves? Good question! It's a question that should have been asked long ago.
People talk about the deterioration of the human intellect. They might even discuss the impact of screen time – not to mention drugs and alcohol - on people and how it dulls the mind. But a person is made up of not just a mind, but a body, a mind, and a soul and each part is closely interconnected with the other. If one part is enslaved, the others are constricted.
Are you concerned that you might be enslaved – at least to some extent? Ask yourself: Are you afraid to step out of the social norms that surround you? Can you make decisions without fearing what others think and feel about you? How creative are you? How much original thought do you have? When was the last time you just sat quietly, reflecting on yourself, on life?
The pace of modern-day life sweeps us along in its current, urging us to be efficient consumers, to be socially acceptable (not to step out of the norms), and to be tolerant until we have no opinions left.
We live in a world that impedes introspection and reflection. We are surrounded by gadgets and distractions and are continually pushed to think we need more and more so that we buy more and more and even become indebted so we can maintain a lifestyle that is considered successful. It is difficult to make the balance between living a life based on spirituality and reaping the benefits of modern technology and information. How do we make the balance? How do we avoid being extreme in either part? And, how do we secure ourselves from being enslaved; in debt and controlled by someone’s marketing strategy?
Oppression has always existed, and eventually is dealt fatal blows, only to rise again at some other place and time. The urge to misuse power to survive and be the best and strongest is a part of the human experience. So people who are hell bent on getting what they want on the individual, economic, social, or governmental levels, coerce others to do what they want by acting on one or all of the essential parts of the individual; body, mind and spirit. In the past it may have been a simple matter of ‘do this or die’, but now we have something much more indirect.
What we have today is a more subtle kind of duress that is supported by technology. The media in general, and advertisements specifically, all present images to the minds of the masses who are busily distracting themselves, and thereby playing into the hands of those who benefit from them.
The modern individual has been enslaved by high-tech images, illusions of thought and perception. We are told we need all these labor saving devices, so we buy them; we are told that to be “cool” we have to adopt certain values, wear certain kinds of clothing, and believe in certain things, and not believe in others. We are told who is the best to lead us, so we elect; we are told to do what we are told or we'll face legal consequences, so we tremble and obey; and we are told to fear certain groups, so we panic and wreak havoc and injustice on more and more victims.
We are being moulded and a cloud of fear hovers over the hearts of the masses, urging us to stay quiet, and not to rock the boat. The psychology of a slave is one of a follower, one who follows blindly. And remember, a slave is not born, a slave is made. So, if we concede that we have enslaved ourselves - at least to some point – that we have become followers instead of reformers—fearing politicians, fearing poverty, fearing death, fearing change—then we have taken the first step to reform – which is acknowledging we have a problem.
There is no growth, no change until we are willing to take a risk and step out of our comfort zone. This is an experience that can be as frightening as facing the initial problem. At the same time, we have many examples these days of people who refuse to give in to oppression – think of nations standing against corrupt regimes; think of women escaping domestic violence and starting their lives over. There are people of courage who forge new paths for us to follow. Like everything in life, there are consequences for what we do and don't do.
To make a change you must take a step forward. If you are in a car and you want it to move to take you somewhere else, just sitting in the driver's seat is not enough. You must have a key. And having a key in your hand is also not enough, you have to put it in the ignition and start the motor. Once the motor starts, change will happen. Change begins within us.
To step out of our learned passiveness, apathy, and fear takes courage. Taking the first step may mean forgetting everything you have ever been told about fear, excuses, and the limitations of the self and society. The human body, mind, and soul is a marvel of creation. The potential greatness of each individual is largely ignored in today's world, where so much weight is given to colour and passport. To free ourselves we have to awaken and take the first step into the unfamiliar.