Chapter 3: Colonel Lloyd’s treatment of his horses compared to his slaves was ironic to say the least. What are the effects of some people having great riches, while other live in extreme poverty?
Great question. The answer to this – in today’s society – is somewhat nuanced. In very general terms, wealth divides values. In Chapter 3, the Colonel knows his horses must be groomed, fed and taken care of. Their health and beauty is representative of him, thus the maniacal and incessant demand for their care. Yet, the Colonel’s blind to care and health of his own slaves, of which have equal if not more value to his own prosperity. The lesson is even people of wealth can possess a disconnect as to what has real value. Value comes in personal forms. Conversely, Douglass and his fellow slaves valued kindness, fairness and trust – basics that are not financially representative of wealth but are more characteristic of the wealth of one’s soul.
You of course can see some of this same disconnect today. I was remarked a few weeks ago of this same divide when I went to meet old friends for dinner. I parked near the Pasadena Humane Society – a sprawling Spanish-style building practically the length of a city-block. It possesses beautiful landscaping in the front and all the amenities inside for thousands of animals. Growing up in the area as I did, I was always taken aback by the immense financial support the Society receives from animal activists and wealthy animal-loving donors in the area, whereas the homeless shelter directly across the street was a shabby, run-down compound. It clearly was lacking care and attention. Now, I would never discourage people to put their money where they think it is best needed, but I was always reminded over the many years driving past that location how wonderfully the dogs and cats were taken care of, yet this tired homeless shelter was nearly ramshackle; seemingly absent of value. What I discovered on my visit last week was the Humane Society is still as immense, beautiful and fully funded as ever. Lots of people still really care about that place. And the homeless shelter? Well, it’s gone. Apparently, it’s been gone for years.
I am an animal lover and the owner of 2 dogs. However, it does not escape my attention that when agencies like the ASPCA calls for help in saving animals the warmth & generosity generated flows and rightly so. But when juxtaposed with the plight of starving & displaced children in places like Somolia, Haiti & Indian the responses are not as free flowing and people get skeptical about the intentions of the agencies asking for support. Black & brown people continue to disenfranchise & the myth about our worth/worthiness continues to permeate our society. Like Douglas said we must continue to “ agitate, agitate, agitate”.
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