“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” C.S.Lewis.
Just so you know; I was going to write about something completely different but then I went to the library! Great big honey ants got in my printer after the ink & now the scanner won't scan so this close to the end of term I'm constantly rattling off down to the library to photocopy stuff that has to be returned to our umbrella school. Just so you know.
I was standing there waiting because I got there right on opening & there was a little crowd of oldies [all right, older than me, ok?!] waiting to pick up orders so having nothing better to do I was randomly picking out books from the nearest shelf. This is not generally a productive exercise but just sometimes I strike gold ~ in this case White Gold by Giles Milton.
This is the most extraordinary story! Whenever I start thinking the times are bad something like this comes my way & I'm reminded that people have always been capable of uttermost cruelty & depravity. White Gold is the story of European slavery in Africa ~ no, not Africans being captured & lugged to strange & foreign lands; Europeans being captured by Barbary Corsairs & sold throughout Africa as *white gold*, beyond the ability of their own governments to help, mostly forgotten.
The corsairs were extraordinary seamen & their reach extended as far as Iceland & North America. Seriously. Did anyone know that about the time America declared it's independence from England Americans were being captured & sold into slavery in Africa? I didn't. I knew vaguely about white English slaves, lots of Cornish men, women & children. Cornwall has a murky history that includes smuggling all sorts of things but they were also constantly raided by the Corsairs & whole villages depopulated.
What is most extraordinary to a modern mind like mine is that a whole string of governments between the 16th & 19th centuries seemed chronically unable to deal with this problem: 2 James', a Charles, an Anne & one of the Georges ~ I think. I'm a bit vague about this period of English history. James basically refused to acknowledge the problem. Charles entertained a Moroccan ambassador for 6 months while his people languished in slavery & got no concessions for his trouble. Anne was inept. George unsuccessful. And this is just English slaves I'm talking about. The Corsairs weren't discriminatory. They took French, Spanish, Norse, Dutch, Belgian, Portuguese & Americans into slavery as well.
But wait. It gets better. While the corsairs were trading in white flesh the European governments were trading in black flesh! My poor little mind just boggles. It is ok to buy & sell a person if their skin is dark but not if their skin is fair? Frankly the buying & selling of human beings, who are made in the image of their creator, simply appalls me. The thought of *owning* another human being makes me sick to my stomach. To do so one must have to *dehumanise* the slave in some way. Slaves, as we all know, aren't real people. They don't have the same sort of sensibilities real people do. They don't feel the way real people feel. Heck, not sure they even have a soul!
Somewhere along the way the European nations grew up & the buying & selling of human flesh, whatever its colour, was outlawed. This is not true of every nation & societies exist in our age & time to combat the abuse of women & children caught in slavery. Women & children have always been the least valued members of most societies. The sense of despair, hopelessness & abandonment must be overwhelming for those who are least able to defend & protect themselves. Their lives are short & bitter. Most will live & die in slavery. Are we so hard of heart that their plight does not move us to action? Even to the action of prayer? It is hard to fathom that in this day & age such medieval atrocities still exist.