The negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest people in the world.
~ George Fitzhugh (1857)
Can you imagine someone saying this today? Sure, I can believe someone might utter this nonsense, but I cannot imagine many folks who would nod their heads in agreement. Interestingly, unlike today, in 1857 there were lots of people who agreed with George Fitzhugh. Remember, in 1857 slavery was not only legal but also supported by a wide variety of people.
So, what changed between then and now? Well, one thing for sure changed, that is the hearts and minds of the masses. That’s why most of us are repulsed by the idea of enslaving another human being. But how did this change come about? Might I suggest that the underlying factor to this change was people standing up for the rights of others not to be thought of as mere commodities—things—that could be used to death. People who, in some cases, gave their lives to the cause of eventual emancipation.
Why would these people do this? They themselves nor their direct family members were slaves. In fact, if they had just gone along with everyone else they most likely would have had much easier lives. That is, the lives of most, if not all, antislavery folks were extremely arduous not to mention potentially deadly.
I believe they did what they did because, before it was common amongst the masses, their hearts and minds had changed. They could no longer participate in an industry of enslavement and death. Thus, they just said “No!” to what most people hadn’t yet identified as the exploitation of others.
I ask you to think about this the next time you hear someone bravely say “No!” to the current day exploitation of others even if you yourself have not yet identified the particular act as exploitative and obviously wrong.
Think, then Go Vegan!