Oppression – definition and outcome

[Portrait of Sir Walter Scott] (LOC)

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

This morning I gave some thought to the meaning, definition and outcome of the word and act of oppression. The simplest definition of the term oppression would be: exercising the authority or power in a burdensome, unjust or even cruel manner.

There are numerous examples of oppression in ancient as well as recent history of the mankind. And they all appear to have the same silver thread in common.

While at first the exercise of power, authority, oppression and in some cases force – seems to induce rebellion, the end result is always Freedom, better conditions, more creativity, better quality of life, new ideas, more happiness, more cooperation among people – evolution in the most positive meaning of the word.

The most exquisite description of such (oppression) circumstances and their outcome I came across last night, while I was reading Ivanhoe, classic romance written by Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) in 1819, set in 12th-century England.

I find many of this Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet – popular throughout the world during his time – descriptions so vivid, that I can actually see the scenery he is describing – or the outfit of the person. This particular passage I’m sharing below contains the message of one universal truth that applies to all times, all nations and tribes:

His doubts might have been indeed pardoned; for, except perhaps the flying fish, there was no race existing on the earth, in the air, or the waters, who were object of such an unintermitting, general, and relentless persecution as the Jews of this period. Upon the slightest and most unreasonable pretences, as well as upon accusations the most absurd and groundless, their persons and property were exposed to every turn of popular fury; for Norman, Saxon, Dane, and Briton, however adverse these races were to each other, contended which should look with greatest detestation upon a people, whom it was accounted a point of religion to hate, to revile, to despise, to plunder, and to persecute. The kings of the Norman race, and the independent nobles, who followed their example in all acts of tyranny, maintained against this devoted people a persecution of a more regular, calculated, and self-interested kind. It is a well-known story of King John, that he confined a wealthy Jew in one of the royal castles, and daily caused one of his teeth to be torn out, until, when the jaw of the unhappy Israelite was half disfurnished, he consented to pay a large sum, which it was the tyrant’s object to exort from him. The little ready money which was in the country was chiefly in possession of this persecuted people, and the nobility hesitated not to follow the example of their sovereign, in wringing it from them by every species of oppression, and even personal torture. Yet the passive courage inspired by the love of gain, induced the Jews to dare the various evils to which they were subjected, in consideration of the immense profits which they were enabled to realize in a country naturally so wealthy as England. In spite of every kind of discouragement, and even of the special court of taxations already mentioned, called the Jews’ Exchequer, erected for the very purpose of despoiling and distressing them, the Jews increased, multiplied, and accumulated huge sums, which they transferred from one hand to another by means of bills of exchange – and invention for which commerce is said to be indebted to them, and which enabled them to transfer their wealth from land to land, that when threatened with oppression in one country, their treasure might be secured in another.

In short and as always – there is consistently something good in everything – and I have a very strong feeling that any kind of oppression actually accelerates expansion in the direction of progress – for the best.

Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to be thankful to all the oppressors I’ve ever came across in my life – for harassing me into a (faster) growth…

Freedom to be who I am - the opposite of oppression

Freedom to be who I am - the opposite of oppression


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About the author


Most of all Daria enjoys creating, designing, taking photos of, writing about and sharing all the beautiful, cheerful things and moments. She finds them everywhere she goes. And tons of fun people, too!

Grace Doerk - April 2, 2011

Daria–I am so impressed with your writings. Anyone would be thankful to have you working for them. Continue your thoughts–they are good. Love Grace

Shae - February 11, 2012

okay besides the positive outcomes, wat are the negativea, i need negativity, you need some negativity on this site. it will make the positiveity look better. like say it causes famine and illness, but ue to the illness you create better medicne, abd due to the famine u get alguculture,… <.< i think i spelled that rite, oh well im to lazy to fix it 🙂

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