Karma – The belief that actions, good or bad, will have an effect at some point in the future: that future may be in the present life cycle or possibly a future existence and applies to people, countries, tribes, all existence. Although many would dismiss or be cynical about the belief it can also be described as cause and effect, for every action there is a reaction.

In recent times I have thought a lot about slavery, it still goes on today under the name of ‘Human Trafficking’ but what has come to mind are the effects some of the things from the past are having today. We need to be aware that what we turn a blind eye to today will affect our children and grandchildren in the future.
What was the slave trade precisely, and why had such a great and obvious evil ever been permitted? The answer was Sugar, Rum and Tobacco, as well as other products that were desired by the wealthy of that era. Slavery has existed since humans evolved and all colours and creeds have been enslaved at some point in time, but it is the trade in African slaves that was most involved with sugar.
As I have mentioned in previous articles there are times when I feel impelled to stop what I am doing and either draw or paint, or sometimes write down words. This has happened recently, just before I was going to work at a Mind, Body and Soul Fayre I suddenly had to stop what I was doing and draw a picture, and the drawing was of a young man wearing a wig; I thought he was a barrister or lawyer of some sort. It didn’t occur to me at the time that he may be from another time period. I put the drawing on display with others at the event and two ladies came up to the table, they had a look through and were commenting on the various portraits. I jokingly said “Have you got a young barrister in your family ladies” and one of them replied “My dear this a picture of Wilberforce.” She turned to her friend and told her that she had seen programmes about him and that was who the picture made her think of. Well, I was ‘gobsmacked’ as they say. I asked her ” Do you mean William Wilberforce the slavery abolitionist” she replied that was who she meant.

I decided to follow it through and bought two books about him so that I would have two viewpoints. Whilst we all know that there has always been slavery, I, and I’m sure the vast majority of people, have never considered the depths of cruelty and barbarity the African slaves were subjected to in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. There were pictures and diagrams in both books showing the manner in which the slaves were transported, and the instruments of torture used on them, it was horrendous that one human could do that to another. By the time I had read the first book and started on the second I was really thinking about sugar. One of the quotes in both books stated that it was necessary to have slave labour to put cheap sugar on the table. So here is the KARMA in this.

In this day and age we are consuming so much sugar that it is destroying our health and I am as bad as anyone for this. It is in most products that we eat if they have gone through some sort of process. Yes, I am also overweight and obesity is becoming the background to many of the illnesses that we die from such as Diabetes and Heart Disease. Our children have serious dental problems and also suffer from obesity in many cases, only today there are arguments here in the UK about a tax on sugar particularly sugary drinks. So the irony is that we are now enslaved by the commodity that caused the highest level of slavery within the last 300 years. As it happens in the area I live the Sugar Company is the biggest employer, and when it is time for their yearly campaigns there are constant streams of lorries carrying Sugar Beet but at least that is grown here in the local farms.

Not only are we slaves to sugar there is that other commodity that came from slave labour, Tobacco, and how many of us are now addicted to that (not me on that one) and how much revenue are our governments receiving through our addictions. Somehow in this 21st century we have to put more value on life, for each to be of equal value