Knowest thou that I was once a slave in Syria?
One of the best books I’ve ever read is titled The Richest Man in Babylon, written by George Clason, published by New American Library in 1926. George Clason lived from November 7, 1874 – April 7, 1957. It’s a compilation of financial advice presented in prose, set in ancient Babylon.
One of the memorable stories in the book was that of the Camel Trader of Babylon. He was owed some money by his late friend’s son, who could not muster the capacity to repay the loan. The young lad, Takad, believed that the “gods” needed to shine their faces on him mercifully so that his cash flow could be enhanced.
So Dabasir, the camel trader then proceeded to tell him his own story of how he borrowed monies he could not repay to finance his lavish life of affluence… till his debts ran him out of Babylon. He joined a band of robbers and on his first night, they were caught and he was sold as a slave to Syria.
He tried to appeal to the emotions of the “Madam” he served one day. He told her, “I was not born a slave.” The Madam seemed to flare up. She said, “What does it matter if you were born a slave or not!”
“How can you call yourself a free man when your weakness has brought you to this? If a man has in
himself the soul of a slave will he not become one no matter what his birth, even as water seeks its level?
“If a man has within him the soul of a free man, will he not become respected and honoured in has own
city in spite of his misfortune?”
And one day, Madam called Dabasir and told him to go and fight for his future.
” ‘But what can I do who am a slave in Syria?’
” ‘Stay a slave in Syria, thou weakling!’
” ‘I am not a weakling,’ I denied hotly.
” ‘Then prove it!”
She allowed him to escape from slavery and Dabasir survived the harshness of the desert because he kept remembering the words of his madam:
“Dabasir, hast thou the soul of a free man or the soul of a slave?”
Many of us have also been run out of course, of purpose, of destiny, of peace, of family, of home, of job, etc by little enemies bent on enslaving us. Many of us indeed are whining, “what can I do who am a slave in Syria?”
We have let go of the wheels, and we are waiting and hoping things we-can-change get better by themselves, with minimal efforts on our parts. Those who err attribute error to a factory defect in the brain; those who lack attribute the lack to the stinginess of the “gods”; those who are inept attribute it to any of the numerous decaying social systems around.
Flip the coin!
Those who do right attribute it to the help of God, no-nonsense parenting and sheer personal determination; those who abound attribute it to hard work and training in the university of hard-knocks; those who are capable attribute it to determination to rise above the decaying influence of the environment.
What exactly then should “a slave in Syria” do?
First we need to convince ourselves that we do not have the soul of a slave!
But then, how do we know?