At about 36,000 feet, I just finished watching the 12 Years a Slave movie which recently won an Oscar for picture of the year. I knew it would not be one of those feel-good movies, but instead a painful portrayal of slavery at a time when our country was at its lowest. In the beginning I thought it might be a bit like The Shawshank Redemption, but for the protagonist there never was a similar justice.
While we have come a long ways since the horrors depicted in the movie, slavery remains an insidious reality of human nature. We may not own others, but we have become slaves to: work, schedules, ideologies, technology, consumerism, politics, our bodies, fear, debt, booze and the list goes on. While born to some freedoms, we blindly plow through life unaware of just how shackled we are.
A universal truth is that we often find truth through suffering. In this way, our enslavement has a silver lining. It can motivate our search for meaning and purpose if we do the work necessary to understand our own shackles. For many, it is easier to walk around in chains and complain about life instead of figuring out how to become free.