A Brief Thought On Monotony

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

My friend Indigo took offense when I said that “Slavery is monotonous.”  So let me clarify:
Poverty is monotonous.
Never being allowed to change is monotonous.
Waiting around for someone else to do something to do you is monotonous.
Doing the same thing over and over when you get no satisfaction from it is monotonous.
The effect of most evil is monotony.
You know what’s not monotonous?  Getting to make your own choices, moving up or down in society as you please, deciding on your own reward systems.  Those are all awesome.
They’re also the first thing to get taken away when you’re in the underclass.  The folks in charge don’t want you to feel like you have power.  They don’t want you to feel like your decisions matter.  And so they do that thing of removing all the relevant decisions from your hands, endlessly forcing you to ask someone else for permission, making you check in repeatedly for trivial stuff because they want you to feel like your day is nothing but a series of boring decisions.
If you fight back, you get a very exciting and brief period where they beat the shit out of you and maybe kill you and maybe hurt your family to boot.  So you opt for the not-so-exciting path, which involves you checking in for a series of humanity-whittling checklists until they decide you’re too much trouble.  Sometimes they shovel you and all your kind into an oven.  Most of the time they just sort of throw your wrung body out with the trash.
Slavery was all sorts of horrid awfulness, with beatings and rapes and mothers being sold from their children and a million other indignities.  But let us not forget that a lot of slavery was labor.  Repetitive, unskilled labor.  Going out to the fields, coming back again.  Putting a thousand nails in wood for a house that won’t benefit you.  Sweeping floors and beating rugs and washing nice clothes that you’ll never get to wear.
Their masters got to sip mint juleps and go hunting and choose fancy clothes.  The slaves got all the work that nobody else wanted to do.
That is monotonous.  It’s hard to tell a story about that soul-eroding sameness without becoming boring, so Hollywood usually doesn’t try.  And it’s hard to explain that yeah, the whippings and the lynchings were the epitome of evil, but what was also bad was how millions of obedient slaves did the same thing day in and day out, dying inside because this was the same damn field they were in yesterday, and the same field they’ll be in tomorrow, and they’ll be in this field every year for as long as their legs hold out until they die and get buried twenty yards away from this field.  Their future was their today was their yesterday, and if their dreams died enough then that was their best-case scenario.
That’s monotony.
That’s also evil.
Do not discount it.

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