No Failure IS Fatal

The Unwritten Rules of Slavery and Freedom

“…If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.”

Frederick Douglas, Civil Rights Leader and Abolitionist, circa 1857. Douglass posited that slaves had the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.

Slavery is one of the few scorned life choices in the Torah (Bible). One can permanently hurt another, yet with the proper restitution he is released from his liability. A man can steal, cheat and grossly disrespect his parent – yet he is given the opportunity to recalibrate his efforts and build anew – based on his experiences. Yet the man who chooses to enslave himself for an extended period of time is effectively separated from his people forever, he is cast aside, never to reclaim his position in society.

How could it be that one who cheats or steals, and thereby desecrates a core tenant of faith and humanity, can reclaim his position – and will someday stand taller than had he not failed, yet the man who is frightened, unable to shoulder his financial and societal role – the man who simply prefers stability over challenge, is brought before the doorposts and his Maker, and is eternally castigated?

An answer is hinted to in the words of a popular song from a few years ago:

“…Reaching for something in the distance

So close you can almost taste it

Release your inhibitions

Feel the rain on your skin

No one else can feel it for you

Only you can let it in

No one else can speak the words on your lips

Drench yourself with words unspoken

Live your life with arms wide open

Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten…”

Excerpted from the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield

The song speaks to the mandate of man: to eternally re-liberate ones physical body, mind, heart and spirit.

It’s rare that we face physical enslavement today – although it still exists in countries like India, Bangladesh, Thailand and others, where women and girls are forcefully enslaved for prostitution. It’s shocking and horrifying that the lives of millions of women are destroyed this way. In terms of our responsibilities to every man and woman on the planet, we must be aware of these realities, speak out and confront them whenever possible.

Here at home we must have a heightened sensitivity to “enslavement by choice” and that is what one may do to his mind, heart and most importantly his will.

The enslavement of the mind is a result of a situation where one is either lax in the pursuit of knowledge or closed to the pursuit of certain types of knowledge. Our world is an ever evolving revelation of G-d’s hand coupled with man’s effort. Knowledge is its primary component. Know more about the world and you will know more about its Creator. There is virtually nothing that is more enriching.

The enslavement of the heart is the result of one who chooses to disengage emotionally from his world – to become an observer rather than a fully vested participant. It is when, for example, you don’t feel the need to cry when hearing about a 10 year old girl who hasn’t yet reached puberty yet will remain in a brothel forever.

The most serious enslavement of all is that of the will. The enslavement of the will is a result of one’s giving up the ability to demand, to fight; to expect more – and to struggle to get it. I don’t understand all the issues that the Occupy Movements are protesting nor do I understand all the issues the Tent Dwellers in Tel Aviv were protesting but I have great respect for their dedication to change – and their willingness to sacrifice to achieve it. The day must never come when we will look around and not find people, young and old, fighting for a cause that burns in their hearts.

So when you look at Frederick Douglas, a black statesman and scholar, who believed, at the height of the slavery period in the United States, that all enslaved men and women had the capacity to successfully engage society, or at the words of a contemporary song titled “Unwritten”, you understand the harsh Biblical categorization of the slave. One who chooses to enslave himself commits that only fatal failure. By doing so he not only rejects the mandate of each individual on the planet but undermines society as well.

“…Live your life with arms wide open

Today is where your book begins

The rest is still unwritten…”


Warmest regards,



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