Time to take a little break from the art of blog-warring (see the post before this if that statement confuses you). I’d like to talk about something else that I like a lot: books.
I just finished reading a book I’ve heard of all my life, and assumed that I knew what it was, so I never picked it up. But, now I am incredibly grateful that I read it. This has been added to the list of books that I will frequently re-read the rest of my life.
I heard Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe described as “the book that started the Civil War,” and I knew that it was about slavery and the treatment of slaves. However, I didn’t know how much it was about Christ. I finished this book on a recent bus ride and sat with tears streaming down my face, reading of the love of God and the myriad of ways He walks us through any difficulty in life.
Yes, the book describes in horrible detail the separation of families because of slavery, the various shades and forms of racism present in the US in the 1800s (and still today), the humanity of the slaves, and the horrible aches caused by slavery. That is an important facet of the book and really changed my outlook on the period of slavery in America. The message for us who read it today is not just that we will learn what did happen, but that we will work to end any evil that takes away human rights and dignity. Alongside this message — and perhaps more importantly — is the theme of God’s provision when it is our rights and our dignity that is being taken away.
Granted, it’s a book written by a person who is able to weave the plot as she desires, but the imagery and the attitudes of the people seem completely real because they are just like so many people I’ve met. I have seen the modern contemporary of Eliza — determined to sacrifice anything and do whatever it takes to protect her child. I have heard of modern Mr. Shelbys — men who claim to hold high moral standards up until it’s no longer profitable to keep them. I want to be a modern Uncle Tom — a person who knows that my citizenship is not on this earth, but in heaven. He was a man who knew that people could sell, chain, beat, and kill his body, but his soul was free and belonged to the Lord. Because of this, he was bold and unstoppable. That’s a lesson I can take to heart.
Slavery may have ended in America after the Civil War, but it still exists today. There are documented contemporary examples of human trafficking that can easily be found by doing a simple Google or Wikipedia search. In addition to this, there are examples all around us of people who are being mistreated. This book asked people of the day: “What are you going to do about it?” It’s making me ask the same question.
I don’t want this to be a book I read and then shelve. I was affected and I want to hold on to these lessons I’ve learned. How can I make changes in society around me? I can choose to change my attitude and my actions. I can find ways to uphold the oppressed. Above all, I can live as one who is owned not by myself and my own desires, but as one who is owned by God. That will certainly change the way I love everyone — from the slave to the slaveowner.