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Life Arts    H4'ed 11/18/20

A Historical Reminder of What Defines the United States, As Told by Frederick Douglass

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Published by Rising Tide Foundation

Frederick Douglass - Helen Pitts Douglass and her sister Eva Pitts.
Frederick Douglass - Helen Pitts Douglass and her sister Eva Pitts.
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org), Author: Unknown author)
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We live in tumultuous days" one could say "the end of an era".

It is clear that there is a storm coming, however, the question is will it be the sort of storm that provides sustenance and relief to drought-stricken and barren lands, or will it be the sort of storm that destroys indiscriminately and leaves nothing recognizable in its wake?

There is such a heavy tension in the air, the buildup we are told of centuries of injustice, oppression and murder. It feels like the entire world's burden has laid itself upon one culprit and that it is high time that that villain pay for past blood spilled.

That villain is the United States.

It is common to hear that this nation was created under the hubristic banner of "Freedom from Empire", while it brutally owned slaves and committed genocide on the indigenous people. That the "Declaration of Independence" and the "U.S. Constitution" are despicable displays of the highest degree of grotesque hypocrisy, and that in reality the U.S. was to replace one system of empire with another and far worse.

These are weighty charges indeed, and nobody can deny that great crimes against humanity have been committed. However, it is important that we review this history in full, for if we lose sight of the forest, we will be losing sight of an ongoing battle that is still waging.

We will have abandoned the work of past heroes that has been left unfinished and will have replaced it with the false idol of anarchy, mistaking its 'empty-promises of liberty' as a mark of what constitutes a 'true freedom'.

How can we avoid such 'empty-promises' and strive for 'true freedom'?

There is no better account in addressing such a question as that of Frederick Douglass (1817-1895), a former slave who would become an advisor to Abraham Lincoln during the dark days of the Civil War and the Consul General to Haiti in his elder years.

A through-and-through TRUE American hero (1).

From Slavery to Freedom

Frederick Douglass was born in Talbot County, in the State of Maryland. Though it was impossible to know his exact date of birth, he gathers that the month of February 1817 is as accurate as possible. The name given to him by his dear mother was, in the words of Douglass "no less pretentious and long" than Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey (Frederick's mother was believed to be the only slave in the region who knew how to read).

Frederick recalls that in his youth "I was just as well aware of the unjust, unnatural, and murderous character of slavery, when nine years old, as I am now. Without any appeals to books, to laws, or to authorities of any kind, to regard God as 'Our Father' condemned slavery as a crime."

Already, by the age of nine, Frederick had set himself upon not only the idea of escape from this destitution, but was always mindful to an education wherever he could find it.

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Cynthia Chung is a lecturer, writer and co-founder and editor of the Rising Tide Foundation (Montreal, Canada).  She has lectured on the topics of Schiller's aesthetics, Shakespeare's tragedies, Roman history, the Florentine Renaissance among other subjects. She is a writer for (more...)
 

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