We spent some of our vacation time last week in Colonial Williamsburg. One of the places we visited to get a taste of life in 18th Century Virginia was the little cabin on the Hope Plantation where slaves would have lived. As we stood outside the door, our interpreter vividly described the subsistence of the enslaved people who might have lived in this house like this one. Inside that bare, sparse cabin the we stood enveloped in the strange contradiction of American history: The people who reasoned and argued so passionately and eloquently for liberty just a few miles away, at the same time, owned and traded other human beings as one might buy, sell and work an animal. Our interpreter wondered though whether there just wasn’t something about us human beings that drives us to divide and separate the world into us and them — our people and the nations, the citizens and the sub-human, the children and the dogs.
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