Posts Tagged ‘slavery


Up from Slavery—The Freedom to Read by Aamir Musharraf

bookfreepeopleToday, February 1st, we celebrate our freedom to read. On this date in 1865 President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery. Lest we forget, for slaves, learning to read had been forbidden. Some slaves who dared to become literate were punished by having a finger chopped off in front of the whole slave community. Or worse. The following extracts from the 1833 Alabama Slave Code were once the law of the land in that state:

  • Section 31 – “Any person or persons who attempt to teach any free person of color, or slave, to spell, read, or write, shall, upon conviction thereof by indictment, be fined in a sum not less than two hundred and fifty dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars.”
  • Section 32 – “Any free person of color who shall write for any slave a pass or free paper, on conviction thereof, shall receive for every such offense, thirty-nine lashes on the bare back, and leave the state of Alabama within thirty days thereafter…”
  • Section 33 – “Any slave who shall write for any other slave, any pass or free-paper, upon conviction, shall receive, on his or her back, one hundred lashes for the first offence, and seven hundred lashes for every offence thereafter…”

Alabama’s lawmakers understood the power of literacy. They knew that it was a gateway to human liberty; therefore, they forbade it.

It’s been 148 years since such laws were abolished, yet many of us “choose” not to read. We give up reading after we finish school. This is a travesty. The old adage, “knowledge is power”, is even more relevant in today’s information-based society. Reading is the key to our success as individuals and as a nation. Not to exercise our right to read is like choosing slavery. Reading is the one vehicle that propels our lives forward. Reading is the spark that ignites the cylinders of thinking, and powers the engines of expression and creation. Reading great books transfers knowledge directly to the heart and unleashes the will to act. Reading tremendous books inspires provoking thoughts, which lead to understanding, happiness, and achievement. It works like magic. History bears testimony to ordinary people who accomplished the extraordinary through the magic of reading. People like Abraham Lincoln, whose formal education consisted of only about a year’s worth of classes. He was a self-taught man who used the power of books to succeed.

Read! We still have 333 days left to accomplish tremendous things in 2013.  We can make a difference. We can change ourselves and the world one book at a time.


I lived life and all I got was this lousy T Shirt! Or, Failure Is an Option

If no one is responsible for the consequences of their mistakes or can claim victory for their successes, what’s the point of living? We may as well be drones, our lives flown pilotless as we live off the labors of others.

We no longer have high expectations. We give medals for participation. Eighty percent of the work is still done by twenty percent of the workforce. There are industries that penalize workers who complete tasks too efficiently. More people go on disability than payroll. We are told that debt will strangle us into servitude yet students are allowed to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars of academic debt, and our country keeps printing money it can’t afford to spend.

Whether you agree with it or not, the man who does what needs to be done without being told draws the most wages, unless he’s on the government dole where his pay is guaranteed. Now, however, we are having a national discussion about whether or not the man who draws the most wages needs to give those wages back to those who haven’t earned them.

We are failing to continuously inspire the work ethic that instills greatness in others. Initiative has become a dirty word. Life should be lived tremendously as one triumphant pageant after another, not as a spectator sport. Yet everything now being taught seems to focus on patting oneself on the back for just existing while waiting for your next check to come.

As the Good Book says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  You can’t be a leader if you don’t have vision. The very price of leadership is vision, which is simply seeing what needs to be done and doing it, without having to be told and without the expectation of reward or accolade. Just doing what needs to be done, period.

Over two hundred years ago, Alexander Fraser Tytler is said to have described the cycle of democracy which typically spanned 200 years: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

“Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back again to bondage.”

So where are we? When the dependents outnumber the independents, dictatorship is not far behind.


Tremendous Tracey

CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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January 2021

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