Born into slavery, Harriet Tubman escaped and subsequently made more than nineteen missions to rescue numerous slaves using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. She’s quoted as saying, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” What a remarkable statement!
Many of us will never know the anguish and utter despair of physical slavery, but how many of us willingly suffer the mental slavery of low expectation and medioricty. Mental slavery is the inability to view events, or one’s self, differently from commonly held beliefs. As a workforce empowerment and training company, we are relentlessly committed to putting purpose and passion into the lives of people and organizations we touch. However, like Ms. Tubman, our biggest challenge is often convincing others that their world can be different – different and better than the world they see around them.
Mental slavery cripples its victims, can make them despairing, close-minded, and destructive to themselves and their community. The abused spouse who can’t see a path to freedom is a mental slave. The poverty sticken family who believes things cannot change are mental slaves. The latent genius who can’t see herself ever obtaining a university degree because no one in her family has ever attended college is a mental slave. To some degree, we are all influenced by beliefs that are not our own, biases we are not fully aware of, and forces which cause us to live lives less than originally designed.
Fredrick Douglass once said, “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.” Break free and live a life worth living!