Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dignity wells up like a fountain from within

A recently discovered letter from a slave to his former master is not only a tiny masterpiece of American literature, but it shows the indominitable dignity of the human person.

It brings to mind what may be the best scene in the movie Braveheart. In it, Mel Gibson's character William Wallace is trying to rally the troops of the Scottish army. The soldiers are about to disband and flee in the face of their English enemy's overwhelmingly superior numbers.

I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyrany. You've come to fight as free men. And free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?
Against that? (He nods toward the English army across the field). No. We will run. And we will live.
And you will live. Aye. Fight, and you may die. Run, and you will live. At least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance (!), to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they may never take our FREEDOM!
Men must be free. We were made for freedom. God gave us free will. It's why the Fall happened, right? He wanted to give our original parents the chance to freely love Him and to do so by following His commands. To follow those commands bespeaks trust in Him that He knows what He's doing, that He has our best interests at heart. That is how God asks us to freely love Him. For if love is coerced, it is not love. If loyalty is coerced, it is not loyalty. If conscience is coerced, likewise.

This former slave Jourdan had his freedom long before he left the confines of Col. Anderson's plantation. And now he was simply demanding the respect for his human dignity that the colonel had never fully shown him in Tennessee. He as much says (or at least strongly implies) he would rather die than return and have his or anyone else's dignity assaulted or not respected. Wallace showed his men that choosing to live under tyranny can be a slavery in and of itself, regardless of what a government does to the individual.

Incidentally, the back wages Jourdan is demanding, the $11,680? That would roughly equate to US$165,000 today. I like his style.

Anyway, read the letter, and let me know in the combox: Do you find it as inspiring as I do?

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