The Truth of Slavery in the world of Divided
Updated: Aug 4
I know one of the biggest questions I’m going to get is why bring slavery back into the picture in the series of Divided? Why be so harsh? Surely, we’ve come further than this as a society and won’t fall back into human beings owning other human beings?
While I really love the heart behind all those questions, I can’t help but look at our society, especially in the year 2021, and realize that maybe we haven’t come as far as we think. The US is not only divided along ethnic lines, but maybe even more pronounced are the divisions along political lines and lines of ideology. We, as a society, have not learned how to play well in the sandbox with each other. Nor, have we learned how to argue honorably and disagree without becoming disagreeable.
Have you ever been driving in your city and realized, “Wow, I’m in a different neighborhood”? In my hometown, neighborhoods can switch at a corner. When we were moving up here from Nashville, we were told, “don’t live south of here” or “stay away from such-and-so” road.
Why is that?
People have this unfortunate tendency to want to live in an area that’s comfortable for them socially and culturally. As a result, we tend to live around people who “resemble” us in key ways - socio-economic, educational status, ethnicity, or political ideas. We insulate ourselves from opinions or ideas or people that may threaten our own sense of psychological security. I do it, you probably do it, we all do it to some degree.
If you supported one political candidate in this last election, how shocked were you to realize one of your close neighbors supported the "other" side, whichever side that might be? Did it make you question how they could even begin to see the world that way?
I watched this very situation play out over social media and in town hall discussions for months, from people who under other circumstances were very boringly “normal”. Yet, in those days, I heard the hatred, fear, and prejudice that calls their hearts home. And this darkness, left unchecked, is what leads one person to try to control the actions and life of another. And the logical end of the need to control is oppression and enslavement.
It is for those reasons that I decided to bring slavery back into the picture for our nation, though with two critical changes. First, no one ethnicity is enslaved in the world of Divided. Second, the people who are enslaved more closely resemble political prisoners and state enemies in modern-day work camps in North Korea than the African slaves in our own nations' past. I made this distinction as I felt a cruel, narcissistic dictator would never allow another person that kind of power within his realm. He would want to be the one holding the power in that equation.
Those differences notwithstanding, the hatred in our hearts, if taken to its logical conclusion, leads us right back into the days of slavery. And the hatred today goes beyond just targeting one ethnicity or another, though that certainly exists. Putting our nation into the hands of a narcissistic, formerly-criminal dictator like I do in the first book of my series opens the door for that person to use their power to keep others who are opposed to him in check. For this reason, the first Supreme Leader Martin chose to enslave his political opponents onto farms outside the cities, rather than simply execute them or hold them in a prison.
You see, we have the seeds of Divided in our current culture today. At some times, I wonder if we have maybe more than the seeds, if perhaps foot-tall weeds have grown and are ready to spawn more weeds when a good wind blows. And unless we do something very soon to change our trajectory, we’ll end up captive as a society to the oppression that lives inside our hearts. My use of slavery in a book centered around ethnic reconciliation and fixing societal divisions is an intentional wake-up call.
Are you willing to face the darkness inside your heart today? As hard as it has been for me, I know we all must, or we will be enslaved to that darkness in reality.