By Aaron Aroriza:
“The worst thing about slavery,” said Aristotle who lived long Before Christ “is that the slaves eventually get to like it”. Well, personally I've even learnt to live in denial of it. I have bought into the illusion of non-slavery to which I've gladly sacrificed my real freedom.
But once in a while I see things rationally.
I see that there are three kinds of people: Those who work for money, those who let money work for them and those who are just spectators in the game of money. I see that we actually don't have choices; that we only have alternatives that have already been chosen and carefully sorted for us. I see that I'm a slave to my employer and my employer is a slave to money. I see that I'm a slave to two masters, one a fellow human and the other an idea – my employer and money. I see that my employer is only a slave to an idea; that's what money is – just an idea that is used as a vessel to execute real ideas. I see that sometimes my employer becomes the master – and money, his slave. And when some witty scholar cynically asks me whether or not I see myself as a free man, my only concern is that my 'educated' biased mind won't arm me with the right answer, which I would have sincerely – with the utmost objectivity, loved to give to the cynic.
I see that my employer pays me just enough money to help me survive so I can keep alive and happy and work for him.
I use my wage to rent an apartment he built, I buy my groceries from a super market he owns, I drive his company car and fuel it at his gas station, and he pays me through a bank owned by the guy he plays golf with.
If I keep my savings in his friend's bank, I get an interest rate of 4%. When his friend lends out my money to me or any of my friends, he charges 30% interest. That is beside the fact that if I'm to get a loan from his golf buddy's bank, I have to get my employer's written recommendation first.
But I'm different from the 18th century slave. While he got handouts from his master, I actually get paid and have freedom to decide what to spend my wages on. In my book, I eke my own living. I forget he owns almost everything I spend my money on. He gives me money so I can keep working for him. I give him back all the money through his different “ATM's” and even pay a little tax on it which keeps his bed-fellow, the government (another master) happy with this little arrangement. The modern slave master is smart. He has craftily invented the perfect carrot on a stick!
I'm not chained while being led into slavery – no; I'm just taken to school where my illusions begin. I can choose the master I want and even change slave masters whenever I feel like. Slaves used to be forcefully shipped to other countries – but me, I will willingly sneak in – illegally. If a master sets a price, I will gladly pay it so I can become his esteemed slave – a high paid slave, but a slave none the less. I don't work under a whip – but I'm yet to figure out what the word 'penalize' means. I'm not forced to work but I've noticed that if I spent a month without work, my life would be hell; not so with my employer – he can go on vacation for a whole year and still live in paradise.
Most of the time I don't realize I'm a slave. I just work from 8a.m to 5p.m which is the mandatory time my employer has set for me, and then I go to a pub he has shares in to let off some “steam” in the evening.
My employer has promised that when I get married he will provide medical insurance for my wife and kids just like he does for me. He will subsidize tuition fees for my kids' education at his school – a school which, like all the others follows a system that trains people only in skills that would require them to look and beg for jobs from the likes of my boss. Meanwhile his kids will be taught the important lessons on the dinner table at home.
But if you want me to despise you, tell me that I'm a slave. That always offends me. In my world, I'm a liberated free man and you are an ignorant, arrogant disrespectful cynic who is out to hurt my esteem. I have visions of freedom and illusions of a freeman. You, just make allusions of my slavery because of your cynical delusions.
Now I feel for Harriet Tubman. This African-American woman, who escaped from slavery to later become a slave abolitionist many centuries after the great philosopher, must have experienced firsthand, what Aristotle had observed many centuries before. “I freed a thousand slaves,” she said, “I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
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