It has been impossible to watch current events in the world recently and not conclude that what is needed is more kindness.

Examples of cruelty are too numerous to catalog here but certainly, they could not — would not — be occurring if people's attitudes toward each other were ones of simple respect and generosity.

It sounds too simple and obvious to be missed, but, apparently, it is not easy. All of the world's great religions teach love and respect for our neighbor, especially the stranger among us.

Why then is it not practiced? All I am even remotely qualified to comment on is from my own experience, which is in this country — my country.

Over my life the expression, “Slavery is the original sin of our nation,” keeps surfacing. I believe it to be true, but why? Embedded in the concept of slavery is the idea that some people are less than others and it is therefore the right of “superior” people to master others for their own personal benefit and to generally keep them down, “in their place.”

Admittedly, there are no slaves in our nation today, outside of human trafficking, so how is the slave-holder mentality being manifest today? Denial of a living wage by CEOs and owners of businesses which control unimaginable wealth is one.

On a lesser scale and historically, growers of our nation's food produce have kept wages depressingly low. To be fair to growers, market forces are not kind to the them either because people in super market aisles do not take the time to consider the conditions under which people live who do the back-breaking work of planting, tending and harvesting their food.

They only want it cheap, which is slave-holder mentality once or twice removed.

To be fair again, the person in the supermarket aisle may also be getting exploited. It is a vicious, self-reinforcing cycle of economic and social violence with the most helpless among us taking the brunt of the harm.

What happens to people who fight back against the slave-holder mentality? It is heartbreaking. It is a story told in the documentary “Dolores” about Dolores Huerta, a contemporary of Cesar Chavez and their struggles to right the wrongs against migrant workers.

Saturday at 6 p.m. the documentary will be shown at the First Congregational Church, 73 S, Palouse St, Walla Walla, followed by a community conversation with panelists familiar with the topic.

Rodger Stevens

  College Place