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Slavery, and its negative (and positive) effects on society, is not nearly as pervasive in today's modern world as it has been in previous centuries. One expert writes "early Christians repeatedly conceived of sin and salvation in terms of slavery and freedom" (DeWet, 2010, p. 27) and that "in fact, slavery had become so embedded in the ancient conceptual reality that it played an integral part in the cosmologies and theories of politics of even the most prominent of thinkers" (p. 27). A society such as the one described by the prominent thinkers of those days was a society that was far more advanced than most people like to imagine, and much of the overall growth of the society was a direct result of the slavery environment. A vast majority of the citizens owned slaves (while the remaining individuals were likely to be slaves).
Slaves could be bought and sold, punished or killed, with no input whatsoever. They could also, however, be set free, and many slaves earned their freedoms with various long and short-term actions that persuaded their owners to set them free. Many of these same slaves, went being set free, were oftentimes granted lands and income. D.B. Davis, in his book, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, states that even philosopher's such as Plato "saw the relation of slave to master as a kind of microcosm of the hierarchical pattern that pervaded society and the entire universe" (p. 84). With such a pervasive practice, its influence on society is bound to be very instrumental in accomplishing tasks that might not have been otherwise accomplished.
It seems that much of the psychological effects of slavery on those who were most affected by it (the slaves themselves) has never been totally documented, studied or examined; at least according to much of the available literature.
It's interesting to note that such lack of documentation might be correlated to the psyche of the slave owners; providing documentation of negative effects would surely have some negative effect itself on those who were benefiting the very most from the use of slaves in the first place. One recent study determined that the research shows that (at least in early American society) "mortgages on enslaved people allowed the resources so central to the expansion of local and regional economies to grow and circulate more easily; that this circulation, whether of slaves, goods, cash, or credit, was especially important on agricultural frontiers; and that there were human as well as economic consequences of this practice" (Martin, 2010, p 818). The economical consequences are quite evident, without slaves, early American colonization would have likely been a complete failure, or at the very least would have resulted in much slower growth, and the consequential societal improvements would have been lacking as well. The human consequences are much more insidious; tearing families asunder, creating heartache and despair, and becoming an impetus for a war between the states that would pit brother against brother and result in a loss of American lives that outweighs almost every other American war. It is probably better to forgo an examination of slave practices that directly affected the income levels of those who might actually benefit from holding slaves, especially from the slave owners point-of-view. Without relevance or data it would have been much easier for the owners to justify their ownership. However, the slaves knew better and constantly strove to attain personal freedom, the same personal freedom enjoyed by other citizens.
First of all, from a personal viewpoint, being a slave; being someone who was dominated by the actions of someone else, or being forced to take actions that I might not wish to take, especially under the threat of bodily harm or violence, would have a very negative effect on my psychology. Having been born and raised in a family atmosphere that greatly treasured 'free agency' to have that free agency taken away (no matter the circumstances) would be devastating to me. I could ask myself, would I have a different psychology if I had been raised as a slave like so many of the slaves in previous generations? The answer, is no, not me personally. I have such a sense of my right to choose, that I believe that such a highly developed sense is not something that I could easily be dissuaded out of. I also believe that my sense of freedom is much the same as other individuals, whether…[continue]
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