One page or so from my novel about modern slavery - The Slaves:
The frost traveled with them, to the Ohio mining town, between the high wires, well armed guards and dirty faces. On a low, wooden platform Nick, Jonas and Carla attempted to be heard in a cauldron of boiling blood and hopelessness and seething rage.
– I can feel it, Nick mumbled, and Jonas heard him. Through all the ruckus Jonas heard him. – I can feel everything here. It’s strengthening me. It’s weakening me. I had never thought… never imagined it could be like this.
He stepped forward, and it was like he grew there and then, as if he suddenly was twice as tall as one second earlier. Carla smiled brightly and Jonas looked at him in awe.
– YOU’RE AFRAID, he shouted.
Everybody stopped talking, stopped shouting, started staring.
– THAT’S OKAY. FEAR IS OKAY. YOU HAVE GOOD REASON TO BE AFRAID. IT MAY EVEN GIVE YOU AN EDGE, STRENGTHEN YOUR ABILITY TO FIGHT, TO FIGHT ON. BUT YOU MUST NOT LET YOURSELF BE CRUSHED BY THAT FEAR. IF YOU’RE SCARED THEY WILL JUST KEEP SCARING YOU.
The shouts among the miners faded. Even the scorn from the men with guns surrounding the gathering lost its potency. Everybody listened.
– Never forget the reason you do this. He spoke quietly now, almost subdued. – Yes, you need money. Money is needed in this world, this wretched world… But never forget why you’re doing this, why you’re opposing the mining companies, and the people lining their own pockets aided by your suffering. Never forget that you’re doing this because you want to claim your dignity, your right to be treated as a human being, not a sheep. For you to organize, to start labor unions is one step in the right directions to do that, to claim your dignity, your birthright as a human being, as a sentient, living individual and person. Remember that there is strength in numbers. Yes, you are alone, and perhaps you won’t get help, but always remember that giving up, believing the lies of your «employers», will only serve to weaken you and return you to the codependent creatures you were before, before you took the crucial step forward and claimed your humanity.
He spoke different from the people in the valley. His wording was more «sophisticated», more elaborate, but they understood him.
– Remember that freedom can’t be given, but must be taken. You don’t kneel before another man and beg him for favors, for elementary, fundamental human rights. The human being is born free, but today, in our fundamentally unjust and dominant society, this… pyramid of fear, chains are shackling us from the moment of our first breath, and freedom must be taken. The chains must be broken, so they can never more be used to shackle us, to make us something less than human. This is the message I’m sending to you and to your professed masters.
– It’s happening, Carla exclaimed weakly, thunderstruck. – It’s finally happening.
She looked at Nick, looked at him in fear and affection.
The three kept heading south, and during the days to come it was Carla’s excited face Jonas kept seeing.
– A Woman wasn’t a person fifty years ago, Carla Wolf said, to a hall of shouting women and men, a meeting discussing women’s rights, in Charleston, West Virginia. – After marrying she wasn’t legally allowed to handle her own affairs. Not according to the law of United States of America, the land of the free. She was a non-person, one totally without legal influence over her own life. And women are still oppressed, not allowed the freedom and economic power denied them for so long.
Cheers and boos rose at her, at the three of them at the podium, like knifes, like prods stuck in the fire. Carla smiled.
– Let me say one thing: Men aren’t the enemy here. They, too, are oppressed by the system, the world pyramid with the many below and the few above. This is a system hostile to all humans, not only to women. But women are a «natural» underclass in this system, because they, in some key places in society are still considered less than human. Fifty percent of humanity, ladies and gentlemen, and we aren’t human?
A man stood up and screamed at her. Spittle flowed from his mouth.
– Thank you, sir, she grinned. – Always nice to be appreciated.
And the laughter drowned the man’s insane glee, and an insane rage was lit in his eyes.
– RETURN TO THE KITCHEN SINK YOU BOLSHEVIK WHORE!
Another man shouted.
– YOU’RE A WITCH, a woman shrieked. – A SERVANT OF SATAN.
– So odd, Jonas shouted back. – To fear the truth…
And it was satisfying to hear a few cries of agreement.
But even among the people they had come here to support there was… hesitation. They probably felt Carla had gone overboard in her speech, probably felt unease over the passion in which she spoke. Jonas nodded to himself. Something had changed, in Carla, and thereby the world. He felt a thrill shoot through his body, his fevered, excited mind.