What does it say about our culture?
Or any culture, for that matter?
The Walk Free Foundation just published a report on slavery in 2013. A detailed and sobering document that estimates there are, today, 30 million people around the world suffering human trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labor, organ harvesting, debt bondage, and more. It’s a grim list.
162 countries are highlighted in this report and I scanned the list to find the United States. Shocking. We are ranked 134, a ranking weighted against our total population, with an estimated 60,000 in slavery. At the bottom of the list, Ireland.
Happy as I was to find Ireland in last place, I had to wonder why. What in our US culture would rank us so much higher? Is there something intrinsic to the Irish culture that would rank them at the bottom?
Honor and social justice. The Irish are big on both and have been for hundreds and more likely thousands of years. The social codes laid out in the Brehon Laws, which some say were given the people by the indigenous spiritual ancestors of Ireland, were considered so exemplary as to be adopted by all invading peoples right up to the time of Cromwell. These laws are a powerful foundation for being in right relationship in community and their influence is echoed through both Irish mythology and history.
In relinquishing his crown to his son, King Cormac (836 – 908 AD) offered much wise counsel which has been passed down, oft quoted and much referenced over the years. The Instructions of the King were clear. Rulers were responsible to establish peace, plant the law, protect the just, and bind the unjust. They were charged to champion and never treat with contempt the poor, the naked, the lame, the blind, or the invalid and they were to hold themselves and all others accountable to this standard. Rí is Irish for king, a word that carries the etymology of the word reach. For the king was one who reaches or stretches out his hand to protect his people.
Reaching out to protect the people. What might be possible if this was embedded in our current culture and leadership? Where might we be on the slavery list?
Judith, thank you.
This is indeed eye opening. It is so important for us to be aware of what our culture tolerates. Not so long ago – at the turn of the last century we were a culture that valued character, which I believe held values more similar to the Rules of the King that you mention. Since that time, with the advent of consumerism, we have become a culture of persona, seeking only to meet our own needs regardless of the needs of the community. (This concept is developed more fully in a book titled “Quiet.”) Seeing the truth of how we live is the only way that we can hope to work toward ahimsa.