Have we changed?

Changes happen everyday, everywhere and we might not even know. Every day that goes by, each and every person changes a little or a lot. It can be due to experiences or an introduction to something new. Maybe it can be knowledge, videos or new ideas. And if we go to the deep end, it could fears, drugs, and physical force. These factors change people physically and mentally. But the question is, do people notice their own change?

Sometimes the nicest people turn into the meanest. The meanest to the nicest. The smart to dumb and the dumb to smart. Some of the changes are gradual or their instantaneous. An example of an instantaneous change comes from Jason Padgett. He was a regular man out for a drink, but he got into a brawl and got knocked in the head. When he came to he saw the world in geometric shapes. Of course Jason noticed his new found ability but there are times when it is hard for us to notice our changes in thought. An example would be receiving bad news.

Imagine or remember a time when you’ve received bad shocking news about you or your loved ones. They say, “You’ve been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer” or, “Your grandparent just passed away” or, “Your pet is dead.” All of these are pieces of news we don’t want to hear but we will eventually have to. Some take these news very hard. They scream, cry, yell, or maybe they don’t do anything. They just sit there and wait, trying to digest this enormous thing that’s been shoved into them. This grieving process has been called the change curve by Kubler-Ross. It depicts the stages that someone goes through when they grieve and this is similar to how people change, but in a shorter time frame. The stages in order are shock, denial, anger, depression, acceptance, and integration.

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The Kubler-Ross change curve.

A big change in history occurred during  the 1800’s that shocked people, the abolition movement of slavery. Ever since civilization has existed, slavery has also lived on along it. Nowadays it still exists even though it has been banned in some countries. Countless stories about modern people escaping from slavery, being captured and forced into slavery, debt slaves. But in the past, it was the enslavement of an entire race, the Africans, and in biblical times, the Jews.

During the 1800’s in the south, seeing and owning slaves was normal. Everybody there was conditioned, ‘brainwashed’, into believing that the African-Americans were inferior, lesser, and meant to be slaves. When these beliefs were threatened with the abolishment of slavery, the southern states seceded later which then escalated to the civil war. The confederates were defeated and the seceded states were brought back under the union where slavery was now illegal. These new laws in addition to the new amendments – the 13th, 14th, and 15th – made the slaves, African-Americans essentially equal to the whites which greatly distressed some groups of whites. These distressed groups of whites were going through the before-mentioned change curve. After they were shocked by the news, they proceeded into the stage of anger to which they formed groups that openly lynched, harassed, and killed the African-Americans.

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Image of the KKK shaking hands with the White League.

As the picture depicts, these groups such as the KKK and the White League came together and lynched these people because of how drastic the change from legal slavery to illegal slavery. Unnoticed to them, they were in denial that the slaves were equal to them and they then turned to anger, lynching and killing them. They don’t notice their own changes from a normal person to someone that relishes in the savagery of lynching different skin-toned humans. Similar to how these people did not notice their change to savagery, Fredrick Douglass’s masters did not notice their own change.

His masters, Hugh Auld and Sophia Auld, were considered by him as nice masters. Sophia was gentle and sympathetic while Hugh was less cruel than Thomas and knowledgeable about the inhumanity of slavery. But slowly, his masters changed. With the introduction of slavery, Sophia slowly absorbed the attitude of a true slavers mistress: harsh, cruel, violent, and vengeful. Mister Hugh on the other hand indulged in the pleasures of brandy and turned harsher. “the influence of brandy…and of slavery” (64, Douglass) truly turned and changed Mister Hugh and Sophia into completely different people. Sophia changed because she accepted that she is a slavers wife and that she need to act as one and integrated the characteristics of the slavers wife into her personality.

Even now slavery still exist. But what’s shocking is that some people might not even know that they are enslaved. They are unknowingly purposely being driven to debt and thrown into the chains of slavery and labor, forever working to pay off the debt. They don’t realize that they are slaves or that they are in denial believing that they could eventually pay it off. Hai also went through such and experience. He was told that he got to go on a trip but was then told that he was in debt because of the travel fares and was forced into slavery. He didn’t know that he had to pay and unknowingly pushed into slavery. He was in a state of fear of his position in slavery and also shocked at the arrival of his situation. This situation is very similar to what happened to some of the slaves where they were free men, and suddenly they’re picked up and snatched, forced into slavery.

Slavery demonstrates its dark touch and influence. It came from the earliest of time, struck down multiple times but sprouts up yet again. It still thrives today, twisting the minds of people like Sophia and dragging in victims like Hai and Fredrick Douglass. It obviously affected and changed them. They don’t notice their own changes, the slaves, Hai, Fredrick, Sophia, and Mister Hugh, and ourselves. We don’t notice our own changes. Maybe because the change is so small, so miniscule, so infinitesimal that our brain does not recognize the slow process or we just choose to deny that we are different and have progressed. Just like how in the past when people’s minds were made to believe that slavery is necessary, people are told that slavery is evil now. Similar to how society is always changing, people also change. But they don’t change for the worse. They change for the better, to improve themselves in a progressive society.

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