^^^^I agree with much of what you say, Graybeard. In a situation where an extra pair of hands is the difference between having enough to eat and going hungry, who am I to say that it is wrong to have that extra pair of hands be a child who would otherwise starve if the parents had not sold it to another family?
I have lived in situations where I had to condone what I saw as cruelty and gross injustice. The best I could do was to try make the abused person's life a tiny bit less awful. Give them a bit of my food, smile and speak to them by name, see them as a human being, let them know that there was at least one person in the village who would never hit them or speak harshly to them. And I vowed to educate people in the US about their lives when I got a chance, because cruelty survives best in the shadows of ignorance
One thing does give me hope, and that is what I heard an anti-child-slavery activist say a few weeks ago. She campaigns for fair trade chocolate instead of the kind produced by child slaves. She said we should not give up in despair at how huge and awful the problems of the world are. Instead we should remember that the world we see today is the result of all the small decisions we made yesterday. If we want to see a different world tomorrow, we have to make different small decisions today
. Very Buddhist. But I have seen enough positive changes in my lifetime to know it to be true.
When I was a kid, interracial marriage was still illegal in many states. Gay people were not allowed to exist except for routine beatings, particularly by the police. If you were not white, you still had a hard time voting, let alone running for office. Christianity was openly promoted in public schools. Native Americans got shot by John Wayne on tv while everyone-- even us black and native kids-- cheered. Stray dogs were gathered up and summarily killed with no stop at a shelter with a chance at "adoption". Black cats were set on fire for Halloween.
Everyone over 50 had lost a few or even all of their teeth. There was no treatment for cancer-- you just died horribly. Cancer was the AIDS of my era. Sex education for girls was "keep your legs closed" and a few old tattered Playboy magazines in the bathroom in middle school--and already too late for some. Tampon use meant you were a whore. True information about sex was as hard to obtain as abortion and birth control, which were both bad things only whispered about. Girls who got pregnant without husbands were whores and their babies were bastards
. Adoption was a guilty secret to be kept from the kid at all cost, because it meant their mom threw them away.
And we threw away everything
--newspapers, plastic bags, grass clippings, leaves, cans, bottles, old TV's-- all went into the landfill or dump. Nothing
was recycled, because we were not in effin' Bangladesh where people pick through the trash
. Our parents drove enormous metal yachts full of 18 cents a gallon leaded gas stolen from stupid sand-eating ragheads. Without seatbelts. While smoking unfiltered Camels.
And we were the best thing the planet had ever produced.
Yeah, a hundred years from now we will be the barbarians our parents warned us about. But we are much better barbarians than we used to be.