SIXTEEN TONS (Tennessee Ernie Ford)



Some people say a man is made outa mud

A poor man’s made outa muscle and blood

Muscle and blood, skin and bones

A mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt.

Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go

I owe my soul to the company store.

Servitude is defined as:

A. A state of subsection to an owner or master

B. Lack of personal Freedom, as to act as one chooses.

C. The state or condition of being subjected to or dominated by a person or thing.

I wonder at times if those holding political office, realize that they are all given a choice to sell their souls to the devil – or to retain their personal integrity. With the costs of running for political office often running into the millions of dollars, candidates search everywhere for financial support. Many individuals are looking to make a career out of public service, and are anxious to make friends along the way who will support them with the needed financial resources. The financial rewards are potentially lucrative, depending on the office being pursued. In many cases, individuals choose to become indentured servants. Corporations are today, defined as persons by the Supreme Court and therefore wield enormous clout and are willing to fill the chests of those willing to become indentured servants; to sell their souls as they proclaim that they are working for the common good. Potential candidates are forced to test the waters and to investigate the possible sources of funding that will make a difference. They are required to purchase printed materials, funds for transportation and meetings, and expensive media coverage. They are forced to be careful not to be too detailed about their own plans, but rather to vilify the other candidates – which eliminates the need to provide a lot of details about their own goals.

They therefore have to sell their souls; to enter into intended servitude to the highest bidder. They choose slavery – they will dance as puppets to their masters bidding. Their livelihood depends of a constant replenishment of the funding required and therefore to do favors for the favored few. They sell their integrity, their values for more than a few dollars. They allow others to pull their strings and sing the right tune so that they may be elected and then re-elected. Money rules and all too often, they with the most money, determine the rules for everyone else, while so often excusing themselves from those same rules and laws.

Therefore, the opposite is also accurate. Those people; groups or individuals, with the least amount of money receive the least amount of time and energy; they have no clout. The poor are given the scraps from the table while the rich eat gourmet meals as the expense of the poor. The poor are seen as throw-aways. So long as they are useful, they are accepted for their service. But, when they are no longer useful, they are discarded as yesterdays garbage. This reality stokes fear in the hearts of those who seek political office. They get used to the perks and state of life and fear losing favor with those who own them. Those with power (money) surround themselves with sycophants. – those who do all that they can to please their masters.

This is nothing new, and it is not restricted to civil power or corporate worlds. This reality has been in place for centuries in all levels of all cultures. Jesus spoke about this often and we see what happened to Him. And yet, He has inspired countless others to work to emulate him throughout space and time. Those who fight the system, often become martyrs – provoking anger and violence for attempting to upset the system that is rigged by the powerful for the benefit of the powerful. Lent is a good time to wrestle with how we cooperate with this system or do we really care about the rejected and those without power or influence.

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