Thursday, August 17, 2017

Problem vs Difficulty

A problem is much different than a difficulty.

A problem needs to be fixed, and a quick fix is even better. We scurry for solutions, implement them, and accordingly, the problem goes away.

Whereas, a difficulty may be a long term boarder; we must work through it, live with it, change or adapt to it. It may be a challenge we confront everyday of our lives. It's a game changer not only for the worse but maybe for the better.

When we confuse or mistake a difficulty for a problem, we think we have to fix it, or even that it can be fixed.

A crying child is not a problem, but if perceived as such, we rush to fix the problem; we replace the dropped sucker with another one; grab the toy back, or even worse, we give the child what she wants to fix the problem, which exacerbates and encourages negative behavior. The child never learns to self soothe, to deal with loss, to work though a difficulty.

Grief is not a problem. It's not fixable with a pat on the back or the self-assured phrases of, "It was meant to happen;" or, "You'll get over this;" or, "When this happened to me..." Grief is a difficulty we must cry through, learn through. We may never overcome grief, but through our grief, we process slowly, surely and learn we can still live, still laugh, still love. We can never hijack the process of grief from another human being. We can't fix grief, because it's not a problem.

Today, a tiny friend tells us she used to be overweight. Amidst our doubt, she forges ahead with her story of how she overcame. Foremost, she says, "Weight is not a problem; it's a difficulty." When we think of it as a problem we look for a quick fix, and once it's fixed we go back to our old habits, until the problem arises again (the recurring ten pounds), which we again try to fix. It puts men and women in a perpetual circle of "fixing the problem." You know them, you may be one of them--people who are always on a diet.

When she realized a healthy weight was a difficulty that required change and adaptation, she admitted to herself, "This is a challenge that will require of me, everyday to think, to be conscious, to be aware."

The power of distinguishing a problem from a difficulty drove her to find the principles of healthy eating. She followed the principles and has kept her weight in check for 25 years.

Thinking problem level, instead of difficulty level is what makes a car a lemon, a computer program bug infested, or an arch that will crumble in a slight earthquake because the gap was filled with more cement instead of replacing the weak bricks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Clear Delineation

September 11, 2001, was a shock to the soul, and a shock to the soul of our nation, to the world, another tragedy in proportion to Pearl Harbor, an act that only the most devious could have imagined and executed. Each calamity played havoc with our minds and asked the question we could never answer nor ever will: how did this happen?

On the morning of both events, normality lost meaning. December 7, 1941, my ten year old father was playing Sunday school hooky at the neighborhood park with a football and friends. When a sibling ran to the park to tell them, the game was over. My father rushed for the safety of his home. On September 11, life stopped to stoop in front of the TV, to watch over and over again. School and university classes watched, mourned, and tried to make sense.

In both situations, we needed each other for reassurance that the whole world hadn't gone mad. We needed to connect to Mom and Dad miles away, to old friends, because we didn't know if they were still there.

We reassessed, we reevaluated-- our goals, our yearnings, our priorities. The pursuit of wealth seemed trivial at the expense of relationships. Kindness mattered, service and sacrifice esteemed. Within minutes, loved ones were turned to dust, incinerated. What else could matter?

Life again was precious.

Many people turned not only to each other but to God. He once again became part of the national conversation. If we couldn't believe in humanity, we'd have to look higher or perish. We couldn't explain and put our faith in man--he'd let us down-perhaps we could only put our faith in God.

WWII and 9-11 united our nation, in part, because each was a clear delineation of good and evil. Nazi, kamikazi=bad, American democracy=good. Terrorist=bad, American=good. We had a common enemy. He wore a unique uniform; his salute was distinct. His affiliation was flouted: al Qaeda. The enemy's ideology was clear. His actions precise. As a whole, they flowed in the opposite direction of American thought.

In 2017, the delineation of good and evil in our nation is blurred. Not because good and evil has ever changed--it is as constant as a waving flag in the wind; but the perception or the diabolical misconstruction of what is good and evil has changed. Self deception runs rampant, unchecked, and especially dangerous when supported by the right website or bent, misshapen political cause.

The enemy no longer unites us, and until we have the strength to discern and defeat, it will continue to divide.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


It's back to school this week, but just for the teachers! It was show and tell, or rather, each teacher was asked to share the highlight of her or his summer.

First highlight: Erin was invited to join an all woman team to climb Kilamanjaro! She did it and had an incredible experience. Another teacher bungee jumped in New Zealand, and another took a family road trip and explained that the Wright Brothers were motivated to invent the airplane after the same endeavor.

One of the most surprising highlights of the summer came from the Spanish teacher who stood and said, "I quit social media."

Not surprising: everyone clapped.

Like most inventions, there is always a plus and a minus. The car gives us freedom and convenience; it takes away fitness and clean air. Television brings the world to our family room; it can waste our time. Social media opens our minds to radical and enlightening ideas; it can be a divisive tool.

I recently saw a short video on social media that interviewed people to see if they sided with the Israelis or the Palestinians. I was disappointed with the creators of the film. In forcing interviewees  to choose a side, they had to assume  one side was right and blameless and the other was wrong and unjustified.

I made a comment in the social media vortex:

I am pro people, therefore taking sides is pointless. The only side to take is pro-resolution. Why divide when we are stronger not taking sides. If one understands the history, one would understand the atrocities committed on both sides that have led us to this point. PLEASE MAKE A VIDEO that offers solutions, not more divisive rhetoric.

 I had made a neutral, pro-peace comment, but this is social media. Divisive social media. A hang out for the restless, the person looking for a fight where the only punches are words. So, at some point I was rebuffed by a boxer waiting for the next swing, but it was pointless to take the bait--I'd already stated what I would state again. I wasn't looking for a fight.

I was looking for peace.

The teacher never explained why he quit social media, but I suspect it was in part,  that he too, was looking for peace.

Monday, August 14, 2017


If counting seconds after a lightning strike truly determines distance, then the lightening is only one and a half miles away. The last strike separated into two different bolts, one on either side of the path. Should I forge ahead and hope to beat the rain home, or do I stop under the pavilion coming up on my right? I choose to stop and enjoy the lightening instead of fear it.

It's so incredible, mind boggling, and fantastically beautiful, this sky phenomena, this lightening. What is its purpose in nature? Is it to remind us power comes from heaven? This early evening electrical storm is puzzling; the first strikes were pale and came from a blue sky. The sky was filled with dark clouds, but these strikes came in its clear pockets.

So caught up in waiting and watching, I don't realize the lightening strikes are absent for several minutes. I hop back onto my bike in spite of the menacing clouds ahead, hoping the rain will be patient and wait.

  The first drop of rain is heavy, distinctly singular. Then, like the running of the bulls, rain charges from the sky, and I'm pelted. I hunch over, tip my helmet forward, foolishly thinking I can stay dry. My shoulders are tense as I try to protect myself from something I cannot fight. I look down at my shirt, my shorts--soaked with rain. I pull my shoulders back and give into the situation, give into the rain, and once I do, it's not so bad. It's the situation I'm in, the trial I have to endure, and like all trials, once we give into the difficulty, the lesson we must learn, it becomes to us just another storm, knowing--it too shall pass.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


It is perplexing that good, good people throughout history have died at the hands of assassins. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jospeh Smith, but foremost and most perplexing is Jesus Christ. Imagine the sorrow at the loss of a loved one, and then having to grasp the incomprehensible injustice of his death. I would think our modern day society, at the appearance of a man who could restore sight to the blind, bring balance to a troubled mind, and by the touch of his hand bring movement to the infirm, would be so esteemed, we would treasure and protect him.

The Pharisees, a group of pious, religious men were unsettled by this powerful stranger whom they perceived as a threat. A threat to what? we might ask...

Within the coldness of their hearts, they tried to disconcert, to provoke, to trick the Master. On this occasion, it was a lawyer who stood and asked Jesus, "Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"

The Savior answered the man with his own question, "What is written in the law?"

The answer appeared to be an easy one the lawyer knew well, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself."

The Savior's approval was simple, "This do and thou shalt live."

The lawyer wanted clarification, and because of his inquiry (whether it was sincere, I do not know), we can thank him for the parable of the Good Samaritan. For then he asked of Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?"

The parable has always been a pointed story--pointing inward. It heavies our hearts, we question our lives, we wonder, how many people have I passed by the wayside?

The story of the Jewish traveler who falls among thieves and is beaten almost to death, brings up so many questions. Why was he traveling alone on a dangerous road? A section of road between Jericho and Jerusalem was known as the Red Path because of perhaps its isolation that made robbing travelers easy. Why did the Levite, and a priest, pass him by? It's easy to disparage them for their cruelty, but were they worried for their own lives? If they did not hurry past, would they too fall victim? This concern is legitimate as I contemplate the recent story of a child who slipped into a raging river. Her mother jumped in as did another man. All three lost their lives. What would I have done? Would I have jumped or been a bystander? But wouldn't it have made sense not to jump into a swirling river?

One man discarded all the viable excuses. This certain man, a Samaritan, after hundreds of years of conflict, was despised by the Jews. Yet, when the disrespected man saw the injured man, he stopped, bound his wounds, found care, and paid for the care. We can not imagine what fortitude raced through his mind or if it even did. Perhaps he did not justify abandonment because systemic prejudice; maybe he did think twice, but in the end he overcame any hesitation. He saved a human life.

Author James E Talmage writes on this ancient story and as I came to the end of his commentary, I am struck by his conclusion: "When the Samaritan came along and saw the wretched state of the wounded man, he had no excuse for he wanted none."

The statement "for he wanted none," feels like a firebrand to my hip. Anytime I've hesitated, second guessed, let an opportunity pass, it was never for a good enough reason, but only found its weight because I wanted it to.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Give and Take

It's Friday night.

Tony is absorbed in a computer problem and informs me he can't go on a bike ride; but he encourages me to go. When I pass his office, I share, out of habit, some piece of trivia, a thought, interrupting his flow. When I ponder where to ride, he makes a suggestion. It's time to bike and leave him to work.

I have come to love biking in the evening, especially when we, or just me, makes it home just before darkness comes to call. It is the winding down time, the giving in, the goodnight to nature or a day that not only took away, but generously gave.

The day gave four hours of time with colleagues. In preparation for the new school year, we discussed, listened, and learned from one another. Laughter reigned among these witty, clever people. Those lucky students dreading a new school year don't know how lucky they are.

During the seminar lunch break, I hopped in the car, hurried to the church and self-consciously entered the chapel. I was late for the funeral. The sobriety of sorrow took away the lightness of the previous hours, but gave me tears when my dear old friend said, "You came." He didn't know I had missed half of his beloved's funeral, and I chided myself for not attending the entire service. But the day gave back when it reminded that juggling obligations was caring.

The day subtracts minutes, hours, but gives again and again with the renewal of each day, operating with such consistency, we never need doubt a new day will come until it finally and completely does not.

At the end of a hike, Nikki says, "See you tomorrow."

It startles me, though it shouldn't. The surety of it is guaranteed. Until it is not.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Hearth

In trying to conquer all understanding of the Great Depression of 1929 -41, I've been reading a few (quite a few), documents written by the distanced, report-voice, of a government employee. Though I've been tempted to speed read, I try to walk down the page taking in all the sites, smells, and sounds.

The report on the Tennessee Valley Authority,  one of Roosevelt's New Deal projects, follows the expected protocol of dull writing. It's informative and interesting, only if one cares about the Tennessee River systems in the 1930s.

The unnamed writer reports on the goals of the TVA. The objectives are to 1) control and insure proper use of water resources, 2) conserve and preserve land resources, and 3) create more widespread use of electrical power.

In the control water resources objective, nine dams were built or had plans to be built and one dam was purchased from private interests. The author continues to explain the increase in electricity power available to people previously without, and job training for the construction workers whose work will end.

It's all pretty dry, but in the end, not even this government worker can resist a human story. I like to think of him or her as a future Literature professor or storyteller.

In the building of dams and the accompanying reservoirs, certain people were displaced and their homes destroyed. The report writer feels that the families, in general, had their lot improved by the forced changes, but he's obviously touched in an objective sort of way when he tells the heart-story, "In moving these people, due regard was paid to their natural feelings, for in many cases they left homes occupied by their families for more than a century. The story is told of one family who resisted removal because it would entail extinguishing the hearth fire that had been burning continuously for three generations. The TVA cut the Gordian knot by keeping the fire going while it moved the family to its new home."

And that folks, is the soft side of history, the human-touch, the heart-warmer, and in this case, government workers who moved not only the table and chairs, but a hearth's burning fire.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Injustice to One, Injustice to All~Final

Possibly the greatest story ever told in the era of slavery was that of Frederick Douglass, and he was able to tell it himself. He effectively bridged the heart and soul of a former slave to the minds and thoughts of white Americans; he did this with truth and honor, but he also understood, from his own raw experience, the great harm slavery brought to all people of this nation. 
            As the editor of his own newspaper, Douglass wrote thousands of articles and his words of wisdom are replete with the message told so well in his 1852 address, What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? “Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever" 
       Imagine the love he had for President Abraham Lincoln! And the sorrow and honor he felt when addressing the audience at the unveiling of the Freedman’s Monument in Washington DC. Not only does he honor a great man, but he honors, “the new dispensation of freedom with its thousand blessing to both races, and the old dispensation of slavery with its ten thousand evils to both races." In part, Douglass’ understanding of injustice to one is injustice to all, and his ability to convey this message with eloquence, helped move our nation through the long and arduous march towards equality-the fruits of which he only partially tasted.

            But Douglass’ arguments were not only written from his passion; in Our Composite Nationality, 1869, he presents a different argument. In the diversity of our races, we, like the biological diversity of plants and animals, bring a critical balance to the planet and hence, “…the perfection and happiness of the whole is a broad and beneficent theory…”
            December 1 1955, was a day not only for Rosa Parks, but a day for a twenty-six year old man who served as pastor to Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Four days later on December 5, Martin Luther King Jr., was voted by fellow black leaders to be the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association.
            It could have been said of Martin Luther King, as it was said to Queen Esther, “…who knoweth whether thou art come to this kingdom for such a time as this?” His deep religious convictions fortified him with the strength to march his way to bringing to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That he demanded of his people to follow the Christian principles in the Commitment Card, gave them a bond of strength as in the body of Christ. His influence was so great, that decades after his death, when future comedian Samantha Irby was caught shoplifting, the black security guard shook his head in disappointment and said, “Is this what Martin Luther King marched and died for?”
            As a humble learner, Reverend King recognized the principles and power of non-violence when taught to him by Bayard Rustin. Like the Savior in whom he believed, he brought a new way to his people, a new philosophy that was as counter to his people as the fulfillment of the Law of Moses. King espoused spiritual aggressiveness. He didn’t preach the black people vs. white people philosophy like many of his contemporaries; instead he  recognized that, “The struggle is rather between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness” (The Power of Non Violence, 1957). While we called the struggle black vs. white, it had a cumulative and destructive effect on all people. Prejudice was an offence not only to blacks or whites but was a great injury to both, because it broke a higher law—the law of justice.
            King also articulated an ideal that had to strike at the hearts of a people ready for change. At the end of the march in Washington DC on August 28, 1963, he succinctly said of attendant whites, [they] “have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny."
            But what percentage of whites participated in the 1963 march? We know Bob Dylan and Joan Baez sang.  As I scan the old news film, maybe one in four participants are white. Or was it one in ten? Change was happening, but was it enough?
            Like many Americans, when Barack Obama became our 44th president, I thought we had finally seen the end of racism, that inequality had finally choked on its own vomit. We had come so far, so close to the edge, but in four short years Trayvon Martin showed us we had not yet made the leap to a higher mountain.
            In Obama’s 2008 A More Perfect Union speech, he spoke of hope but reminded us of our past, “The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery.". He warned us—even though the constitution promised all Americans liberty and justice, words on a parchment were not enough to deliver all people, both black and white from the bondage of slavery. He reminded us that our change wasn’t complete; he didn’t pat us on the backs for our perfect union, but pleaded for A More perfect union. We are still in bondage because we have failed the most basic principles of justice: all men are not equal. We have not done unto others as we would have others do unto us, and because of our shortcomings, karma, the ancient Sanskrit word which means the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of a [nation] influence the future of that [nation], our nation once thought to be the light on the hill, is still weighed down by poverty, racial division, and political strife.
            Until we imbed in our hearts King’s mantra, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” until we embrace true equality for all men, the bondage of slavery still exits. And “…we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together" (Obama). Only together, are we free to break from bondage.
            When I arrived at my daughter’s home in Chicago, I was thrilled to see her next door neighbors were black.
            “Why didn’t you tell me you had black neighbors?” I asked. My daughter looked at me like I was an incompetent fool.
            In those few seconds of her not understanding who her mother was, I saw my Civil Rights experience flash before my eyes: having grown up in the sixties and seventies, having been the first sixth grade class to be integrated, getting out of high school early because of race riot threats, having lived on the east side knowing it was dangerous to go to the west side, having heard my parents’ stories when blacks couldn’t enter hotels through the front door, inviting my tennis-camp black friend to stay at my house making my parents proud and uneasy, …meeting my daughter’s neighbors was a significant moment. Even more significant was that my own daughter didn’t think anything of it. One small step for racial equality, one giant leap for mankind.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Injustice To One, Injustice To All: Slavery, Inequality And The Concept Of Karma~~ Part 2

Despite evidence of men who believed “all men were equal,” and that to treat men otherwise would damage our nation, some believe the founders had no intentions of slave inclusion in equality. Thurgood Marshall’s bitterness is evident, “The self-evident truths and the unalienable right were intended, however, to apply only to white men” (Grutter v Bollinger).
            Historian Dr. Eric Pullin, recently stated his belief that Jefferson didn’t include blacks in “all men are created equal.” The evidence he claims is found in the Notes on the State of Virginia. Yet, as I reread his commentary to Marbois, I find many things, but not irrefutable evidence of his claim. I find his observations claiming that African slaves are of a different physicality and form from that of the white race; he makes a claim that slaves have a disagreeable odor; a claim that slaves love and think differently. Jefferson clearly believes that slaves are inferior in both body and mind to whites, but nowhere can I find that these differences make him an alien to the unalienable rights.
            In letter XVIII, Jefferson states his concerns as to the consequences to citizens who, through the abuse of slavery, trample on others’ rights, “…[it] transforms those into despots, and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the one part and the amor patriae of the other."
            In Jefferson’s early writings, he has yet to reconcile the inferiorities of the black race to the white race, but in his clear statements concerning the destruction of slaveholders’ morals because they are slaveholders, one must assume these dire consequences are only because of a great injustice to men who are equal. Furthermore, the actions are worthy of consequences that Jefferson predicts will come in God’s rebuke: “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just…,” and “The almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest."
            In Jefferson’s letter to black innovator Benjamin Banneker, he is open and hopeful for the proof that “our black brethren," are endowed with talents equal to “those of the other colors of men, and that the appearance of a want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence, both in Africa & America."
            The harsh assessment of black slave’s capabilities  in this degraded existence was difficult to digest until I remembered a comment from a woman, in Lesvos Greece, who was at the forefront of the 2015 refugee crisis. After caring for the immediate needs of Middle Eastern refuges arriving by boat, she helped load them on a bus to Mytilini harbor where they would cross the Aegean Sea to Athens. She dealt with Syrians and Iraqis, but “The most difficult people were the Afghanis, because they’ve been denied an education for so many years under the oppression of the Taliban.” Her understanding of oppression enabled her to be more patient with a people who had been denied their natural rights. Were not the oppressive conditions of slavery comparable to life under the Taliban?
            Later in Jefferson’s life he came to recognize, that the inferiority he observed and wrote about, may have been caused by servitude. How free could a slave’s mind be when his body was in shackles? Can an imprisoned body possess a mind free to grow, explore, and learn? In an 1809 letter to the French humanitarian Henri Gregoire, he expresses regret for his previous judgment of the African race, “My doubts were the result of personal observation on the limited sphere of my own State where the opportunities for the development of their genius were not favorable, and those of exercising it still less so."
            Further evidence of the founder’s better intentions resides in Section 9 of the constitution. Migration and importation, though not stated directly, refers to the slave trade. “…[it] shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight…” (US Constitution). In just 21 years following 1787, the constitution would abolish the slave trade with the intention of closing the curtains on slavery. But fate had a different course, and the invention of the cotton gin, revived what was once thought, a dying agriculture need for slaves.
            Attorney, judge, professor, St. George Tucker had a clear vision of the injustice of slavery. He was motivated by his understanding of the law and justice, and the imbalance, the stigma, slavery brought to our nation. A staunch abolitionist, he wrote a pamphlet in 1796 calling for emancipation based on what he deemed was an egregious offence ten thousand times worse than our complaint against England. His allusions to Biblical phrases and teachings, his inclusion of references to the Father of Mercies, God of Hosts, and Author of Righteousness; demonstrates his devotion to the principles of God. A true lover of God, would be a lover of all mankind, and an advocate for all men’s freedom. Thus he had the courage, the compulsion to speak boldly against the civil liberty we were denying blacks, which affected the civil liberty of all men. We would forever be a blinded and handicapped nation if we could not pluck the beam out of our own eyes while we could “espy a moat” (A Dissertation on Slavery), in the other.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Injustice To One, Injustice To All: Slavery, Inequality And The Concept Of Karma~~ Part 1

            One of the emotional and most contested questions in the fight against slavery has been and still is: When the founding fathers adopted, announced, and promoted the Declaration of Independence, did they include black slaves in the profession: All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
            The slave holder, the advocate of slavery would argue “No.” The abolitionist, the Frederick Douglasses, the Martin Luther Kings, the W E B Duboises would argue, “Yes.” The advocates for black equality would not, could not end the fight, because they understood that unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, if denied to one race would be denied to all. A slaveholding nation, a nation mired in inequality, would be a damned nation, and it was their responsibility to convince through their words, their passions, and even their lives, that slavery and inequality had to be abolished in order to save mankind, to save the nation, to save the souls of American men and women.
            If we were able to ask directly, the controversial question would first go to Thomas Jefferson, co-creator of the contested Declaration and the third president of the United States. One might argue that he didn’t believe in true equality because he was a slaveholder, but his written evidence is contrary to that position.
            That he was a slaveholder during the Revolution is more a product of the times than a blight on his failure to act on his personal conviction. His failure to do what was right may be compared to our failure to reduce our carbon imprint. As he foresaw the negative impact of slavery, we foresee the damage to our planet. We must change our habits, our dependency on fossil fuels and plastics, but we don’t know how to live without our cars and our energy guzzling houses. We don’t often pause to ponder our offense to the planet because we need to get to work.
            In humanitarian regards, we’ve heard that clothes purchased at H&M are cheap because the workers are underpaid and overworked, yet we need to dress stylishly for a minimal expenditure. Washington and Jefferson knew it was wrong to have slaves, yet  slavery was systemic;  they had inherited many of their slaves. Sadly, the forefathers not only lacked the fortitude to swim up river in raging currents, but even hesitated to get in the river. They believed in equality for all men, but knew it wasn’t time, and so they prepared the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and set them in the cornerstone of America’s independence, believing that one day, these documents would insure those rights.
            Further evidence is found in Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence which rails against King George in that he “waged cruel war against human nature itself violating it’s most sacred right of life and liberty in the person." The persons, refers to slaves captured in Africa. Just four lines later he again references and emphasizes that these slaves are men by capitalizing MEN, “…where MEN should be bought and sold…” 
             The Southern delegation’s weight in the constitutional process crushed the inclusion of Jefferson’s original statements that defended the slave’s equality. The tragedies that followed did indeed allow for the perpetuation of slavery, but not because slaves were not men. They were denied a place of freedom in the constitution because of the evil designs of greedy men, who demanded that slaves be designated as only 3/5 of a person to clearly justify their designation as unequal in a simple mathematical equation. The slaves were men, albeit partial men.
            Other arguments in those critical nascent days of our nation debated the question of slavery. James Madison makes note of some of the pathetic logic, “If slaves are to be imported, shall not the exports produced by their labor supply a revenue the better to enable the General Government to defend their masters” (Madison, Federalist Papers).
            Madison recorded the other side of the coin too, the words of humanity spoken by Mr. Gouverneur Morris who responded to these classless arguments with a comparison to slave and non slaveholding states. In his travels, he had come to see the injustice of slavery as a crippling force, “Compare the regions of the Middle States, where rich and noble cultivation marks the prosperity and happiness of the people, with the misery and poverty which overspread the barren wastes of Virginia, Maryland, and the other States having slave." He had observed first hand the glaring differences between slave and non slave states and recognized the level of prosperity according to their slave position. The north prospered, the south dwindled. He astutely recognized the very thing the United States abhorred and fought against, aristocracy, and yet, it was perpetuated in slavery.

            That the other founding fathers also lacked the fortitude to risk status and wealth, didn’t negate the fact that all men were created equal. As many men and women realized, this was an irrefutable law of nature. The founders’ thoughts were unfortunately and tragically focused elsewhere. Their thoughts and actions were deeply immersed in the creation of a nation, and like a slow moving caravan traveling through the desert, the cause of abolishing slavery, in the end, got as much attention as the yapping dogs chasing the last camel.