Human dignity. What is it? My MacBook defines dignity as: “the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.” Human dignity would thus be giving a human honor or respect, yes?
When I watched 12 Years a Slave this weekend, I cried hard tears. I covered my eyes a few times, something I don’t usually do in movies. I cringed when I heard certain sounds coming from the screen. My heart broke and my faith in humanity was torn up a bit.
12 Years A Slave is the story of Solomon Northup, a freed man who was tricked into a life of slavery in the south. He was a brave man, an intelligent man, a father, a husband, a musician, and because of his race, the color of his skin, he was taken advantage of and sold into slavery.
This movie is a must see for all Americans. It depicts a hard, ugly piece of American history that many people gloss over when they talk about the past. The past wasn’t pretty. Our country was founded by a bunch of white men who treated their wives and slaves as pieces of property. As early Americans settled in, they treated their slaves like animals. This is what I saw in 12 Years A Slave. The black men and women in America were treated as less than human. They were not seen as people but as property.
12 Years A Slave is a raw movie. If you have a soul, I imagine you will cry a little or at least feel some impact.
12 Years A Slave shows a very specific point in time when American white men and women were treating people as less than human. Some people might watch this movie and think, I’m so glad we’re past that. But let me tell you something, we may not have slavery based on race right now, but racial equality is still not present in our society. Gender equality, also cut from the team. And you know what? Slavery does exist right now in America. Right now, as I write this, there are groups of men who have gotten together to kidnap and take young girls to warehouses and hidden buildings so they can be sex slaves. Human trafficking exists. This is something I don’t understand. I don’t understand the thought process of slavery in early America and I don’t understand the thought process of human trafficking now? How can people feel like they have the right or the power to strip humans of their dignity and make them slaves? How can a person believe that their moneymaking scheme that involves actual trading of human bodies is a good way to make money? How does this work? Why does this happen? I can’t comprehend how people conceptualize this idea. I understand recognizing differences in color, speech, body type, but I don’t understand the dominating nature that allows people to hurt others and gain power from bullying others based on those differences. When I hurt someone with a snide comment or by ignoring him or her, my conscience keeps me in check. How can there be no conscience?
I’d recommend this movie to any and all people. I think it’s important to watch. I think it’s important to reflect on what has happened in our nation’s history and reflect on what is happening now. I think it’s important that we think about our daily lives and ask ourselves if we honor human dignity. Are we treating all people as equals? Are we loving to our neighbors and do we accept them for who they are? Are we accepting of people of different gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, socio-economic statuses? Are we valuing those people? Because if not we’re not honoring human dignity. And we need to change that.