Yesterday would have been the 258th birthday of a great hero of mine. William Wilberforce was a MP for Kingston upon Hull, first elected at age 21 while still a student University of Cambridge. While his early years in government were unremarkable, it would be later activities that earn him great acclaim. Beginning in 1787 he would wage a long campaign within parliament and outside of it, to end what is among the worst cruelties man has ever inflicted upon his species, the practice of slavery. Being informally involved with Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, Wilberforce along with others would push for the abolishment of the practice of taking Africans from Africa and shipping them world wide for the purposes of slavery. This would be regarded as one of the first grassroots campaigns for human rights organized by people from a wide spectrum of society. The society hoped that by abolishing the trade in slaves that it would lead to a gradual end slavery through reduced supply. As part of his involvement he would in 1789 introduce the bill that would abolish slavery, it laid delayed for two years, where it was defeated by a vote of 163- 88. In a testament to his personal strength and conviction he would engage in campaign the lead to the successful 1807 Slave trade act that was passed by a vote 283-16. While this was an accomplishment in of itself he would continue to pursue the end of slavery in of itself through parliamentary action. In 1825 Wilberforce who was never in good health, at the age of 66 resigned from Parliament. He would still continue his involvement with Anti-Slavery societies, these efforts would lead to the introduction of Bill for the Abolition of Slavery in 1833 which sought to end the practice of slavery throughout the British Empire, that would result in the freeing of 800,000 slaves. Wilberforce having heard that the Bill would passed by Parliament and become law, would die just three days later on 29th of July 1833.

Funny how this picture taken almost 70 years ago, has as much relevance today as it did back then. This picture was taken in London at a time when the in biggest conflict humankind has faced was taking place. Britain along with its Commonwealth stood alone against Nazi Germany. They had endured many bombing raids on their cities and the war at that point for the most had been losing cause for them. Yet Santa still delivers his presents albeit with a helmet. Christmas and the holidays still went on, the compassion and generosity of the holiday season still went on, people’s ways of life still went on. 2016 has been a rough year for many of us, on a personal level and for the world at large with the looming spectre of extremism,Trump, Environment and the Economy. Yet like the man dressed up as Santa we as humanity must adapt to adversity and demonstrate our way of life is worth carrying on and is something so powerful within us that it cannot be conquered easily through fear and uncertainty.

Photo Credits: ww2 photos colorized.

A Father Christmas wearing a tin helmet, walks along Regent Street, London.
23rd December 1940

(Photo source – ‘Life’ Magazine)

(Colorised by Sanna Dullaway from Sweden)https://www.facebook.com/sannadullaway

Mankind

We have the word Mankind. It is an interesting one, in that in referring to our collective being, the powers that be have chosen the word “kind” to come after the word “man”. While in this case the word “kind” primarily refers type of thing, but interestingly the word “kind” can  also  be take to mean gentle and compassionate.Of all the words that could have been, it was this one. Why? Is it an expression of fact that man in his very basic natural form kind and gentle? Or it is an expression of optimism and hope, that perhaps man is not as such but should aspire to be and hopefully one day will be, embodiment of the word “kind” in this world. But it is a beautiful idea nonetheless regardless of the truth of it, that in merely talking of humanity as a whole we have made the idea of what it means to be a person and the idea of compassion and goodness inseparable.