About 20 years ago or so I went on a field trip with my oldest son to the Caw Caw Interpretive Center here in South Carolina. In the guided tour of this sprawling former rice plantation that had been tended to by enslaved Africans, I was struck by the statistic that the white slaveholders were outnumbered 9 times by their slaves. With measures of intimidation, disempowerment, dehumanization, and the fostering of an insidious dependency based on fear, the minority ruled over the majority. Why didn’t they rise up and revolt, one may wonder? Surely, simply by the sheer number of them against the smaller number of their white oppressors, they could overtake such tyranny.
It turns out that in 1739 the first large-scale rebellion took place in this very area, called the Stono Rebellion. It was forcefully put down, and some sixty rebels were executed. As a result of this revolt in 1740 a new law was passed, the Slave Codes, which forbade enslaved people to travel without written consent, to grow their own food, to gather in groups without the presence of whites, to learn to read, to use drums, horns or other “loud instruments” that might be used to communicate with each other.
This morning I was remembering this as I was contemplating the current election that is culminating today, November 3, 2020. I made a connection I had never made before. Our country, and perhaps the whole world is being ruled by the elite 1% that holds more power and wealth than the majority populace of more than 99%. Staggering. Utterly staggering. We have heard these statistics thrown around for years now, and yet, we the people, have not yet had a successful revolt, in spite of our many attempts.
We the people, are enslaved and don’t even know it. Wow. The system that rules, systematically, with the most cunning deceit and insidious subtlety, has gradually taken away our collective power and the majority of us didn’t even know it. We have become controlled, intimidated, disempowered, dehumanized, and dependent. We have been pitted against each other as a way to distract us from the true threat to our freedom and dignity —this elusive 1%. We have this belief that it is the other that is the threat: black, white, republican, democrat, immigrant, China, Isis, men, religion, heathens, quacks, scientists, white supremacists, CDC, FDA, big Pharma, satan, viruses, etc. There is no end to the threats that reside outside of us.
Yet, I wonder if we have been so distracted by all these things that, like the magician who expertly fools us with his sleight of hand, we have been looking in the wrong place for the source of our collective bondage. Could it be that we unwittingly, unconsciously, gradually and slowly have given our power away to a measly one fucking percent of the population? Actually, it is even less than that! We have been majorly duped, as I see it! Through the same conniving mechanism that the whites enslaved massive amounts of strong, beautiful, intelligent black people we have been lulled into a profound state of collective unconsciousness that allowed our communities to be dismantled and disenfranchised all in the name of progress and civilization.
And we think slavery was abolished in the United States 155 years ago. The new slavery, as well as the old, seems to me was born of a consciousness that believes in the myth of separation: the nuclear family that separated us from our communities, industrialized farming that separated us from our food, pharmaceuticals that created dependency not health, racism that kept us separated from each other and our humanity, ageism that shuttled the elders and their wisdom to the edges of our society, homophobia that separated us from our children and loved ones, materialism that separated us from our morality, technology that separated us from the earth. I could keep going. My God! What have we done? What have we allowed? We must wake up!
So, as we vote in this strikingly divided and polarized election, we are bearing witness to the most un-united United States since perhaps the civil war or at least the time of unrest during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war. While people fervently vote for their candidates with an emphasis on fear and hope, we wonder if this ‘democracy’ can be saved. We watch the dizzying displays of division within our population and focus our attention on the next white hope to save us from impending doom.
Yet, I think about the perspective inspired by the philosopher and visionary, Charles Eisenstein, in his course Political Hope. Could it be that what we desire, the solution that will unify our country, that will offer a healing path forward, is not even on the ballot? Could it be that the meal we desire to feast on is not even offered at the ‘banquet of whiteness’, the buffet of political promises? Could it be that we are all focusing on the past and out of our conditioned belief systems, we look to our elected officials to save us from our collective demise? When it comes to politics, we seem so entrenched in our story of separation that we close our eyes to a whole new innovative possibility that isn’t even a part of the party — either party.
We keep voting, hoping for better, not even realizing that we are enslaved. While many serve valiantly to create change and better the lives of others, we are limited by a paradigm that keeps us bound to the past. Just like the doctor who prescribes toxic medications to bring relief to the patient who begs for help, we do the best we can within this current paradigm. The situation is dire, and there is no time to change the whole paradigm in the midst of a population in pain, in chaos. The politicians enter into their service with the same wide-eyed altruism that the medical doctors enter into theirs determined to bring something new to the buffet and yet the resistance to change keeps them bound to the status quo.
This condition of enslavement, that we find ourselves in, is literally created by all of us, through our unconsciousness, our complicity by ignorance or by choice. We eat the food at the banquet because we are starving and it seems to be all that is available. It fills the belly. It temporarily satisfies the hunger, even if it causes heartburn.
My heart burns to be free. To unshackle my mind from the blinders I have been unwilling to remove until now. I see that the cause of dis-ease is so deep and buried that we only seem to be able to treat the symptoms. But now I know. We have been enslaved by the 1% because we have allowed ourselves to believe that we are separate from one another. We have been torn not just from each other, but from our Self —our own Divine Self, that is unlimited, eternal, and fearlessly free! We have forgotten who we are. We have given up our power to a lesser god. The god disguised as our next white hope. We have separated ourselves from our most precious resource: God in US! Yes! We are that powerful.
Slavery is unsustainable when the people awaken to the power that lies within. This Power is Love. It is who we are. And when we act out of the illusion of separation and we forget the Truth of our Oneness with all others and all Life, we spite the other in spite of ourselves. For, we are all One. This is our power. This is the nourishing truth that has not been offered at the banquet of false hope.
So I propose that we vote. Vote, for a new buffet of offerings. Define the sustenance you choose to feast on and serve your beloved family, the human family, the animal family, the earth from which we derive our greatest nourishment. Vote, with the embodiment of these values that you hold dear. Then, when the sun rises and we watch the results from this election unfold, remember who you are, and do NOT become distracted by the drama, the outcries, the fear, the expressions of disconnection, disappointment, despair.
Stay focused on the Love that lives within all of Life, which vibrates with a Power that obliterates all man-made delusions. Do not be distracted by this archaic and toxic story of separation, and see the beauty where others cannot. See the wholeness even as we witness the fractured. For the old way, the old paradigm must fracture, crumble, and dissolve in order for the new vision rooted in Oneness and Love to emerge in wholeness from within and beneath the shattered shell.
Unshackle yourself, and remove the blinders that would have you believe the lie of separation. You hold the key. As you free yourself you free us all, for now you clearly see the truth: that no matter what I believe or how I behave, no matter what I have been told: I am lovable. I am worthy. I am beautiful. I am enough. I am loved. I AM LOVE!