We are All Slaves

Aren’t we all slaves?

I suppose I am an old-school individual. I believe that face to face conversations and interaction are certainly the most enlightening and edifying. I enjoy the company of several people at the table for meals and even for drinks. I learn and grow from our conversations, which is after the point. In fact, one of my favorite partner’s and companions is my wife. She provides a different perspective and refreshing view of the topic with her feminine and ethnic views.

Interesting ideas come from conversations. Some of you should try it. Put down the magic cell phone and try talking to each other. In fact, there are switches that turn those fucking things off. I can’t tell you how tired I am of sitting in a public place watching the patrons sending text messages across the table without uttering a word. The only respite is the initial scanning of the menu and the almost unforgivable interruptions of the server. Conversation is the lost art of sharing ideas verbally.

“If you have an apple and I have an apple, and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea, and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

“Silence is one of the great arts of conversation.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

Aren’t we slaves to this horrid convenience called the cell phone? It’s glued to an ear or perched before you in a prayer-like pose, thumbs flying over the screen, sending thoughts into space for the person across from us to see and read. We’ve become slaves to technology and all the conveniences that were purported to set us free. These marvels further chain us to a magic box where we are forever indentured. I was chatting with a man in the queue who remarked that during a recent visit to a local college campus, all he could see were cell phones with legs.

If you lose it. Oh, god forbid you should lose it, the day is not the same. We cannot function normally without it or the other myriad conveniences we require. We feel absolutely naked without our cell phone. Our lives go unfulfilled if we are out of touch. Watch those people around you. Are they walking and talking or driving or riding a bicycle or pushing a stroller or walking the dog while on the cell phone? Are they in the checkout queue or ambling aimlessly through the mega-mart talking on the cell phone? What is so goddamn important that you need to be in continual contact with someone? Are we that afraid of being alone? Taking a walk used to provide some alone time. We now fill every waking moment connected to someone else, and an accidental disconnect or all too brief quiet time leaves us in a panic. We don’t know how to be alone anymore. We’ve forgotten how to enjoy the silence.

Our reliance on government to shepherd our lives is another type of slavery. We’re quite fickle about this one. We want someone to tell us how to live and what to do but vehemently complain that the intrusion violates our freedoms and rights. By the way, we willingly traded away these rights for Security Theater. We can’t have it both ways, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting it. We insist on safety and protection from enemies both foreign and domestic but scream about the grope and search programs now pervasive in public transportation. We expect our government to ensure our domestic tranquility, health, and welfare, but protest that these social programs enable a burgeoning lower class of noncontributing people.

Did anyone stop to think that if you are not doing something illegal, you have nothing to fear from these searches? As lonely as we are, I imagine this attention would be welcome!

We claim that educational loans are usury, binding students to lifetime payments programs. Are they really or is the student loan program an extension of the credit loan and lending system we all accept as normal business? The estimate for credit card debt is $16,000 per household, and student loans exceed $49,000 each. No one demanded that we spend money we don’t have. No one insisted that these students borrow money for college educations, yet here are the numbers. Credit card debt exceeds $747 Billion, and Educational loads exceed $2.8 Trillion. Now we want our government to forgive these educational loans and limit the interest on credit card debts. These are all excellent ideas but who and how will the government, us, pay for these generous gifts? What about those of us that live within our means without credit cards?

Did we create a false illusion called the “American Dream” that mandates a college education as the prerequisite to achievement? Are we advertising ourselves into the poorhouse with the “must have” to survive our modern lives in comfort and style? The mandate is to keep up with the latest trends. We must have that new car to fit in. We must have a college education to compete.

Our insistence on a college education is admirable but does little to supply the increasing needs for trades like carpentry, electricians, plumbers, masons, and butchers. Who can / will fill these jobs? So far it’s been the immigrant and undocumented guest workers, but some state laws now discourage these people from filling these open positions. I don’t see the throngs of unemployed queuing to snag one of these open opportunities. Federal mandates require clear documentation to work which are geared toward taxation and collection of tariffs to support social programs.

I spoke to my neighbor this morning about her concerns about how our country will pay for the repair from the two massive storms pummeling the East Coast. Private and Corporate insurance will not approach the cost. The remainder comes from our taxes. That’s right boys and girls. We pay for it. Aren’t we kind? How accommodating of us to support American that refuses to move out of the storm’s path. My solution is to require anyone that lives in a danger zone, to sign a waiver absolving you and me from this burden. They decide to live in these areas. They know the risks. They defy logic and stay in tidal flood plains, or tornado alley, or earth quake prone areas. Why should I be responsible for that ignorance? This waiver requires them to move from the affected area never to build there again, or they must refund the reparation funds and cannot receive further assistance. I don’t mind lending a hand for a surprise disaster, but these occurrences are all too regular. AND! They refuse to move away from the blighted area when the mayhem subsides. THEY REBUILD ON THE SAME FUCKING SPOT!

OK. Let’s tackle the elephant in the room: Taxes.

Illustration by James E. Doyle. 1864. Color lithograph. Located in a private collection. (Photo by Philip and Elizabeth De Bay/Corbis via Getty Images)

Taxes are a form of slavery. We are forced to pay our government to support programs for which we did not vote and which we did not approve. This money is taken directly from our earnings and given to foreign governments, federal and local programs, other government agencies big businesses. We have no choice regarding its redistribution, yet the government bullies us with threats of prison and garnishment. Garnishment is forcefully taking your earnings directly from your employer, much the same as taxes. You pay a federal income tax. Then you are assessed a state and local tax, FICA, SSN, and other levies. Then when you purchase something you pay a sales tax. If you invest wisely you pay again on the profits, unless you are a multi-millionaire, you and most large corporations are exempt from taxes. The tax law excludes the wealthy with the financial wherewithal to pay a lawyer and accountant; you don’t pay your fair share. In fact, the largest corporations in this country pay no taxes at all.

As for the Socialist redistribution of these funds through welfare, bailouts, and other federal business support programs; should be illegal in our democratic-republic; it’s criminal. We send $43.4 Billion to foreign governments: even our enemies…

Here’s the distribution of your 2016 taxes:

The total budget is $3.95 trillion

* Social Security: 24% (See Note Below)

* Medicare: 15%

* Health: 13%

* Income Security” 13%

* Veterans Benefits: 5%

* Education: 3%

* National Defense: 15%

* Net Interest: 6%

* Other: 6%

Which one of these benefits you, yet you pay for them? Isn’t your hard earned money? Shouldn’t you get something other than a bill from the government each year? I would welcome an occasional thank you note.

Note on Social Security: Social Security is not an entitlement as claimed, it is a program funded by the general population as FICA tax. The budget number stated represents repayment for the $2.7 trillion appropriated from Social Security by Congress. These were taken from Social Security by Congress without permission of the owners (us) and used for Congressional pet projects. Their assertion that Social Security is a Government Entitlement is a misdirection to cover their misappropriation of our money. I encourage you to read the information in this link for the real story regarding Social Security at Snopes

The corporate Bailout money was approximately $625 billion for 2016. The lion share went to banks and other financial institutions: $245 billion.

Considering how hard we work and how little we keep, our government is funding/supporting large corporations with our money and keeping the profits, if there are any. Granted in 2016 the repayment of these bailout funds netted the feds over $88 billion. I didn’t realize the US Government was a profitable lending institution, but since they are lending our money, we should reap the benefits of their profits. I’d like to see that money put back into Social Security to offset the $26.7 trillion they borrowed!

As slaves, we are not entitled to a share since they own us. The government owns us: You and I are their slaves.

I was a slave to religion, more correctly to my beliefs. I was raised to believe in God, and all that it entails. I lived in fear of punishment in hell for transgressions and hoped to be judged worthy enough to enter paradise. When I realized this structure was contrived to exert control over the masses, I was quite pissed off. I was outraged that what I believe was untrue for me. I’ve found a way that meets my needs in a much simpler for me to accept and it gives a moral compass that honors the intent of the ancient teachings without all the hocus-pocus and pomp. My revelation came through personal study, conversation, and listening to the conversations of those I respected. My survey of world religions exposed a common thread in all the systems and especially in the celebratory date and festivals.

The movie Zeitgeist lays it out in pretty simple terms. I don’t claim that they have it right, but considering the atrocities committed in religions name, we need to contemplate that hate and murder in god’s name doesn’t work with any of the basic precepts. In fact, it conflicts with the fundamental teachings, yet we kill and plunder throughout the world spreading the message of salvation through suffering and redemption through belief in the Magic Man in the Sky. Most current religions are lies. Their basic concepts are perverted to fit the needs of the aristocracy or priest class to gain power and wealth. Islam, the way of peace (which is what the name means) is anything but peaceful. They espouse murder of infidels and the use of violence to further their cause. Anyone that allows and encourages the ownership of another human being, especially women has a long way to go in my book. Punishing someone based on a single accusation is wrong.

All I’m saying here is that an examination of the belief system and the adherence to their teachings is crucial. Actions speak louder than words, yet it was the Christian churches in the south that encouraged slavery, and the lynching of black people did not follow the teachings of The Christ, or any other prophet or holy person. When the tools of your religion involve hate, you need to find a new religion.

If the Bible or any document or teaching is your law, you either accept or reject the entire text. You may not select those areas that fit your needs or those that support your interpretation. You might as well decide which laws you chose to obey and ignore those that don’t fit your needs. I understand that murder is against our covenant with God as directed in the Ten Commandments, but there are organized sects like the Muslims that amend the agreement to allow killing infidels and adulterers.

There are Christian Churches that condemn everything from adultery to xenophobia. The profess that dinosaurs are the devils’ work to test the true believer’s faith. God created our world was created in seven days: six days of effort and a break for a beer and some BBQ.

I’ve read most of the texts and surveyed many of the world religions. One thing I know to be true is that not one of them has it right for me. OK, I destined for hell. I don’t believe in hell or the magic old man in the sky. What I do believe is that our existence here is not to worship or kowtow or condemn anyone or anything. We are here to live the best life we can, learn all we can learn, and help each other to get through to whatever is on the other side of this life.

We live as slaves to everything we love. That’s why the Buddhists disavow all possessions. You become a slave to that which you are afraid to lose.

Put down your cell phone, turn off the TV, and step away from the computer screen and converse with the person nearest you. Chat with that stranger in the queue. Be kind to the service-person behind the counter. Open your mind and learn something about the people around you.

“When you look at a corporation, just like when you look at a slave owner, you want to distinguish between the institution and the individual. So slavery, for example, or other forms of tyranny, are inherently monstrous. The individuals participating in them may be the nicest guys you can imagine.” ~ Noam Chomsky

Just something to think about…

October 6, 2017

~ The Author ~
Charles R. Dickens was born in 1951, is a veteran of the Vietnam, for which he volunteered, and the great-great grandson of the noted author, whose name he shares.

He is a fiercely proud American, who still believes this is the greatest country on the planet, with which we’ve lost control and certainly our direction. He grew up in moderate financial surrounding; were not rich by any stretch, but didn’t go hungry – his incredibly hard working father saw to that. As most from that era, he learned about life from his father, whose story would take too long to tell, other than to say that, he is also a fiercely proud American; a WWII and Korean war, veteran Marine.

Charlie was educated in the parochial system which, demanded that you actually learn something, and have capability to retain it before you advance. He attended several universities in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree, and chased the goose further to a master’s, and has retained some very definite ideas about education in this country.

In addition, Charlie is a professional (struggling) blues guitar and vocalist – a musician. This is his therapy career. Nothing brings him as much joy as playing music, and he wishes that he could make a living at it… maybe some day!

That’s Charlie… a proud, opinionated, and passionate American.

One thought on “We are All Slaves

  1. Mike

    Sorry, Charlie. (Have you heard that line a million times?) “Slave” has a meaning with connotations attached. You–WE–are metaphorically somewhat kinda like “slaves” in a superficial sense. The Interwebs, iPhones, our Dilbert-like existence at work…we are “slaves” to all these things and more, sorta, kinda. But when you put “We Are All Slaves” in your headline, you crossed an important line. Our “slavery” is nothing like that endured by the people our ancestors victimized throughout the 17th, 18th, and sometimes 19th centuries.

    The key difference is in the usual processes of entering and exiting the enslaved status. For instance, taxes–don’t pay them and a lengthy process will give you plenty of opportunities to pay up or negotiate or be tried in a kind of a court, using lawyers and law and lots of money until your stuff is seized and/or you go to jail. The real slave had a much quicker and much more dramatic process, which also had a much more problematic ending.

    I applaud your atheism, though. The difference between a faithful believer and an atheist is simply the ability to recognize facts for what they are. Oh, and it takes a lot of guts to be an atheist in America.

    Interestingly, your biosketch here and mine have some similarities, except my ancestry includes no one of note and my musical talents don’t include any instruments I’ve attempted so far. I might be a gifted drummer–I haven’t failed at that one (nor have I ever tried it) so no one can ever prove that I don’t have musical talent, after all.

    I hope to read your writing in a bigger forum. Good luck to you.

    Reply

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