I finally got around to watch the Oscar-winning movie, 12 Years a Slave. It is of course a story about slavery in the Deep South before the Civil War. It was a true and very tragic story about a free black man, Norman Solomon, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Once sold as a slave, he had no way of proving he was a free man. He then resigned to live out this enslavement as best he could until he could prove his true identity. To do this he decided that he would be a most obedient and subservient slave so as to not endanger his life.
Late into the movie was a very brutal scene where Patsy, the slave girl and concubine to her slave owner, was accused of some minor offense. The slave owner sentenced her to severe lashing, a lashing that "would tear the flesh off her back". The slave owner handed the lashing over to be done by Solomon, the ever obedient slave, who was a close friend of Patsy. At first Solomon refused but Patsy asked that he do the lashing. He decided had no choice but to do it. I was saying to myself, refuse this order and take the lashing yourself.
I am not chastising Solomon for the decision he made as each person has to be ready physically, mentally and spiritually to resist. However, the lashing was such an unjust act that I could not do this to a person yet there are many who would.
I am beginning to think that if we are to create real justice in America, we have to be prepared to take the lashings for others. We can no longer stand idly by while we watch others suffer, even if we are comfortable ourselves. We must find the moral courage to resist even if it means our own suffering. We cannot stand idly by while people are being poisoned by corporate irresponsibility. We cannot stand idly by while people who struggled to save up a meager retirement fund are robbed by Wall Street bankers. We should not be forced to remotely control a weaponized drone to kill innocent people. We cannot allow someone powerful make us push a button to release nuclear bombs onto millions of innocent people. This is not a call to martyrdom but a call to do what our conscience deems is right. We can resist and we might fail but if enough resist, maybe not.