Monday, June 29, 2009

Roots

Many times over the years I have told Anselm Samuel that he has to stay with me, or more recently, when he walked to school, not take shortcuts through alleys and parking lots but to stay on the main drag where everyone can see him. I tell him this because of the possibility of being kidnapped by slavers. For the most part he has been diligent. He knows what we do to slavers when we catch and convict them: We send them to prison. But he didn't know that slavery used to legal in our country.

Tonight Anselm Samuel and I watched episode 1 of Roots. (I bought the whole series from iTunes.) He was more than a little horrified and covered his eyes during parts of it. By the end of the 2 hours he was visibly upset and asked, "Why did we do that?" That was not the response I was expecting. I had to explain to him that, as far as I know, our family never owned slaves,always lived in free states, and fought against the slave states at the Battle of Springfield. But I also reminded him of the captain of the slave ship in Roots. He started out as a good man but his association with evil, though he tried to keep it at arms distance(he tried to not even look at the slaves), eventually corrupted him.

Solzhenitsyn wrote in The Gulag Archipelago, "the line between good and evil is in the center of every human heart." To that I would add, from experience, this idea: It is very easy to fall into sin, and once you fall you accelerate on the way down.

3 comments:

Philippa said...

Don't forget to show Anselm the movie about William Wilberforce and his friendship with John Newtown who wrote "Amazing Grace." We must give our children hope that change can occur.

Simka said...

You've got great children, Matt. I always love hearing about them.

For my part, my family did own slaves (That's why there are so many African-American people with the last name of Winslow). So, I feel I have more responsibilty than most in helping to repair the damage done between people of European & African descent in America.

But even before I had learned of the Winslow's slave-holdings, when I was just about Anselm's age & was watching _Roots_ when it had first come out, I distinctly remember crying for the first time during any movie (now I cry during movies all the time, but that's another story). It was the scene when Alex Haley (J.E.Jones) gets back to Africa & finds his relatives & exclaims "Kunta Kinte, I have found you!". There I was, just a lil' tyke, but I completely broke down in tears at whatever it was that had touched me so deeply about this reunion (I still get misty-eyed just thinking about it).

Sol said...

My family held a significant number of slaves on both my mother's and father's side, and most of them fought against the Northern Aggression, but I would not teach my children to be ashamed of their heritage. Their ancestors lived in a different age. Within the norms of that era, by and large they treated their slaves well and had very postive relationships with them which in some cases lasted long after the War and the 13th Amendment.