Consider the following paragraph:
Abolitionists fighting sex trafficking in both Southeast Asia and Latin America report that parents commonly sell their kids so that they can make an improvement on their home or purchase a vehicle or other consumer item. These stories align with a report in the New York Times that parents in Albania sold their children to traffickers so that they could buy a color television.
That paragraph is from the book Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade — and How We Can Fight It, written by David Batstone. The New York Times article that is referenced in that paragraph can be found here.
Deciding I needed to take a break from taking a break, I spent the better part of yesterday and this morning reading Not for Sale. And being horrified. And shaking my head in amazement. And, I think, steeling myself to get involved in abolition. I’ll be writing more about this book and about this topic in the near future, but for now I’m feeling like I’ve just waded through a cesspool of evil. Sometimes swimming in that cesspool. Don’t get me wrong, I recommend the book completely…though be warned, as the yellow box on the back cover of the book clearly states, “Advisory: This book deals with mature subject matter.”
I find myself wondering if this is what William Wilberforce felt like after he had been awakened to the horrors of the British slave trade.
The introduction of Not for Sale opens with these words:
Twenty-seven million slaves exist in our world today. Girls and boys, women and men of all ages are forced to toil in the rug loom sheds of Nepal, sell their bodies in the brothels of Rome, break rocks in the quarries of Pakistan, and fight wars in the jungles of Africa.
Go behind the facade in any major town or city in the world today and you are likely to find a thriving commerce in human beings. You may even find slavery in your own backyard.
Like I said earlier, I plan on writing much more about this topic in the future, including an overview of Not for Sale and what it is about. For now, I’d suggest bracing yourself for the truth, opening your eyes to the real world all around you, and getting your hands on a copy of this book.
The above paragraphs are from a post I wrote on January 22, 2009. The rest of this page and its related pages are about how I’m attempting to comprehend modern-day slavery and human trafficking, and what we can do about this very real evil. Should we do anything about it? Is there anything we can possibly do to stem the tide and make a difference? Consider these words from Edmund Burke, a contemporary of William Wilberforce:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
I’m currently reading and studying the book of James in the New Testament and in verses 22-27 of the first chapter we find these words:
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
I see two things in these paragraphs from James that apply to this discussion of slavery and abolition:
- The “word” James is referring to is the Bible, and it is possible to be a hearer, a listener, even an intent listener of the Bible and not let it affect how you live, the choices you make, or the actions you take. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be “one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty,” and hears and listens to what God is saying in his word, the Bible, and then to be “a doer who acts” on what he has heard.
- James gives a specific example of how to be a “doer who acts”: visiting orphans and widows in their affliction. Why are they afflicted? Because they are typically helpless and easily exploited by those more powerful than they are. What is happening in slavery and human-trafficking and all the related evils that accompany these two horrors? The powerful are exploiting the powerless for personal gain and depraved pleasure. A common theme throughout the Bible is that God cares deeply for the powerless such as orpans and widows, and he expects his people to do what they can to help the helpless.