Gerardo works all day with his family in a brick kiln. Children around the world are missing out on a childhood free from oppression.
It is nearly common knowledge that President Obama has declared January to be “Human Trafficking Month”; a month dedicated to awareness-raising and consciously fighting against modern-day slavery. There are legions of abolitionists now employed in the fight, and slavery is known to exist by most in the world. This is why it seems especially incredible to me that there are still some who ask, ignorantly, “Why Care?!”
Six years ago when I was 12 and launched Loose Change to Loosen Chains, people were shocked to learn slavery still existed. But now, after countless documentaries, TV specials, newspaper articles, t-shirts with clever slogans, fund raising efforts and a Presidential declaration, how can it be that people are still surprised? And, even more importantly, how can those who know ask “what does it matter to me?”
I have seen and heard these kinds of comments everywhere from Facebook to everyday conversation, some even making it seem a race issue, wondering why I would want to help someone who looks differently from me, when there are “white people in my own city who are homeless and starving.” This blows my mind. If we cannot acknowledge that the most basic human right, the right to freedom, is of utmost importance—then all the other issues become permissible. If it is okay to look the other way when there are people forced, against their will, to become prostitutes, then anything else goes. If we can ignore the fact that children are bought and sold and used as livestock how can we claim to love others?
Does this seem right? How can we be so ignorant and prejudiced to say that the only people who deserve to be helped are those who live close to us and look like us? This is important as well—any violation of human rights must be remedied. But, to limit our compassion to someone who has a struggle that is familiar – or someone who looks or sounds familiar – is an affront to our Creator.
Let’s take a stand against modern day slavery, in our own backyards and in around the world – for, “…if one of us are chained, none of us are free.” http://s0.ilike.com/play#Solomon+Burke:None+Of+Us+Are+Free:147886:m13086901
This month I’ll be posting practical actions you can take to follow in the footsteps of abolitionists of the past.
“No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”
Photo courtesy of Compassion International