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A Change Is Gonna ComeSam Cooke
I was born by the river, in a little tent
and just like the river I’ve been running, ever since
A Change Is Gonna Come.
We live in a time when no one has to be sold into slavery. No one has to pursue us, turn on us, or shackle us down. Oh, that still happens, all around the world. Even now, people live under the threat of the whip, or the strap. Held against their will, beaten, and used like beasts of burden. Some are forced to carry the load on their shoulders. Some even have to take it while they’re on their back, or knees.
We turn a blind eye, because the truth is uncomfortable. We turn our heads because to look at it — in the face — we’re reminded that convenience is hard on someone, paid for with someone else’s sweat; our freedom paid for in someone else’s blood; our liberty paid for by another’s tears. It’s too heavy a burden to bare in big armfuls. It’s too much poison to swallow, except in small doses… so we tell ourselves that things like that couldn’t possibly happen… and we call this the habits of a civilized people; the way of the modern world.
And it would probably be better for us to claim it’s necessary. At least then we aren’t denying that it’s true. But, just as a wise man will never claim to be wise… a true tyrant will never call himself/herself a tyrant, they always see themselves as visionaries. A liar will never admit to being a liar, they always claim sincerity. Cowards never want to see themselves as cowards, they always pretend that it’s prudence, not fear. The ignorant always think themselves to be clever; the merciless as justified; and the weak as too weak, or the small as too small to do anything about the state of things; to make a change.
I’m not a particular good person. I’m not special, exceptionally intelligent, wealthy, powerful, influential, or brave. I’m just an average person. Yet, even I can see that there’s something wrong, and I can’t stop myself from saying so. I’m lucky, because I live in a place where I’m not going to be arrested, or tortured for it.
Speaking up is the least I can do, in honor or those who have come before me, who put their necks out to be slit by the blade. Who allowed their bodies to be broken, so that the spirit of their message could live on, in tact, for the benefit of their fellow (wo)man.
It’s the least I can do for those who will come after, with the yolk of our folly smeared on their faces like embryonic fluid. Who will inherit the world in whatever state we choose to leave it to them in.
Those who will be forced to live, when I am comfortable in the grave, with the consequences of my actions — or inactions. I owe at least this much to the ones who will grow up to be the spokesmen of humanity, empathy, and of peace… who will be mowed down by the tanks of our old world order. More bodies in the cogs of the machine. Hoping that maybe we’ll finally have paid enough flesh and bone to finally bring it to a halt; our bodies may adapt, our technology can evolve, our economy will fluctuate, our agendas move forward, but if our hearts and minds remain in stasis can we really call it progress?
We scoff at the word caste for being archaic, but class is still a common word in our vocabulary. We reject one because it appraises the equity of a person’s “soul”, based on a belief system guided by an unseen, unquestioned force; but, we embrace the other that appraises the equity of a person, based on an economic system that we believe should be influenced by an unseen, unquestioned hand. This is karma; this is debt.
We live in an age where no one has to be sold into slavery, because we’re simply born into it…
Economically: Just as peripheral territories are exploited for their resources by the Core, so is every working (wo)man exploited for their labor. Because every (wo)man that labors — not for pride, or skill, or choice — but for the profit of others… who can only leave by acquiring a new master… that person is a slave.
Intellectually: Just as a prisoner is not allowed to leave the confines of their prison, so is every working mind, that is denied liberty to roam, held prisoner. Just as every prisoner is stripped of their identity and possessions, so is a mind robbed of its independence and facilities… that mind is in bondage… and what is existence without freedom, if not slavery?
Socially: Just as livestock is herded where their master deems they should be; just as possessions are treated as their possessors deem worthy; just as property is groomed to closer resemble its owner’s desires… so is every person who is held in check by arbitrary conventions; social laws of whim with no purpose or utility save for reminding us that we have a master; possessor; owner. Rich (wo)men, poor (wo)men all bound under this law. Does a free man need any of these things? What else would you call such a person, but a slave?
And if we want freedom, true freedom… We can’t just be content, sitting in the pews, on the docks, or on the sidelines. We can’t just endure standing in this line, in the fields, on the wrong side of the line in the sand. We can’t just remain as we are, while singing, “A change is gonna come” with hope filled hearts — no matter how beautiful it may sound.
Yes. It’s been a long, long time coming, but change doesn’t always come to the deserving, it’s inspired by the active.
Revolution is born of ideas, and is nursed on words, but it’s nurtured by hands, raised by action, grows with passion, matures with commitment, and thrives in the hearts and minds of free (wo)men… who just started out as common people; the people who chose not to turn a blind eye, or look away.