Saturday, April 10, 2010

Struggle & Achievement

Yet it's hard to look at Moses Brown's long course of struggle and achievement without concluding that his life was a tragic one. He lived to fulfill his destiny as a lawmaker and a moral leader. By dint of determination and perseverance, he'd won many battles in his greatest moral struggle, writing the first laws against slavery and the slave trade, and bringing the malefactors to the bar of justice. He had awakened the social consciousness of his community and engaged the apparatus of the government to secure the demise of the institution of human bondage. But it was all to no avail.
Charles Rappleye, Sons of Providence: The Brown Brothers, The Slave Trade, and The American Revolution, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), 343.
When Moses Brown made slavery the central issue of his identity he did so with great risk. After all, most of his contemporary culture stood against his stance. Most Americans, even those uncomfortable with slavery & the slave trade, chose to stand idle and silent on the issue. By making it his identity, Moses was putting himself on the line for his beliefs. If he failed to make a dent, his life inevitably would be deemed a failure. And despite all his efforts & accomplishments - in the end slavers & the slavery continued on past his lifespan.

However, when looking back it is hard to view his life as a failure in my mind. He stood strong for what he believed in and fought valiantly for it. The fact that his own personal brother stood against him and fought against his every move had to sting. Yet he persisted in pushing for more legislation and a stronger cultural stance against the ills of slavery & the slave trade. The laws and legislation he created might have been without power - but that is not to say they had no value. In the face of certain defeat, he still chose to press on. When we choose to fight for the beliefs & values we determine our necessary for culture, we must remember that we may have to stand alone AND we might never accomplish what we desire to. But that should never stop us from putting it all on the line for those beliefs. True defeat only happens when we pessimistically admit defeat & never try.

Moses Brown might have failed to make true change - but his fight for that change is still admired today.