January, Human Trafficking and Complacency
I stared at the date on my phone. January 23. How is this month so close to over? I closed my eyes and tried to remember what I had accomplished…a lot of laying around and recovering from the holidays and then whining about politics. January 23. What had I done this month? Tried to have a good attitude. Made memes and inspiring art projects to help me focus on doing good rather than arguing about the bad… Wait a minute! January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month! I feel sick!!!
I have been so self-absorbed this month that I completely forgot about the focus of this month. This subject is very near and dear to me because I have worked first hand with many abused immigrants. It is beyond reprehensible that American greed, complacency, and perversion are funding human trafficking around the world. I get angry every time I think about the things that are happening in this country…but I’m not making a difference.
If it were a tangible enemy, I’d go after it with everything I have. But it is not even visible. I’ve only seen the damage it causes and heard stories…
So, I’m sitting here overwhelmed and I keep thinking of something one of my adult students, David, once said to me. “Teacher you live in a world where your poor people are fat and you ask why God allows so much evil in the world. I come from a world where there was much suffering and I wonder why God is so good to us.” My students frequently reminded me that my American brain doesn’t always understand the way things really are. There is a lot of evil in the world even though there isn’t in my world.
Actually, I take that back. There is a lot of evil in my world. There isn’t a lot of discomfort in my world. However, there is the evil of complacency. It is the evil that the biblical passage in James 5 refers to when it says that evil men will fatten themselves in the last days. The wages that weren’t paid to workers will cry out against them. And the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah? According to Ezekiel 16:48-50, their evil sounds eerily similar to my world: “She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me."
I don't want to be this way. I want to make a difference! But life seems to get in the way...
Of course, no one that gives a nod towards following Jesus is OK with human trafficking. It's not like anyone that even pretended to follow Jesus would be stupid enough to say, "I don't care if people are forced into sex slavery."
But what can we do? How can I learn not to be complacent?
As a fellow Netflix binger and fervent ranter with little expertise but a desire to do better, here is where I’m going to start:
- I won’t just say prayers. I believe with all my heart that God wants to do something about this tragedy in our country. I believe that if people fully understood what was happening, they would be ashamed that they hadn’t gotten involved sooner. I believe that God will move, but he moves through his people and we have to listen and be willing to be used to make a difference.[spacer height="20px"]
- I will support organizations that are fighting human trafficking. I think the best organization is International Justice Mission (ijm.org). The Polaris Project at polarisproject.org, is a great resource for finding local groups that are fighting human trafficking. (and I'm currently researching Operation Underground Railroad.)[spacer height="20px"]
- I will research where I’m spending money. Huge strides have been made in abuse among coffee farmers because American consumers cared about coffee farmers. Support businesses like Starbucks, Chick-fil-a, Ben and Jerry’s, and Boloco that are globally responsible consumers, even if it costs a couple of extra bucks! I will let them know that it is important to me that they ethically source their products. I will gladly double what I pay for clothes and coffee if I know that it keeps people from bonded slavery.[spacer height="20px"]
- I will support education in other countries. The best defense against the cycle of poverty that makes people vulnerable to trafficking is education. I will actively seek to support groups that educate native people.[spacer height="20px"]
- I will fight pornography. Pornography is a double-edged sword when it comes to human trafficking. Victims are used in the videos and the videos create a market for forced prostitution. I don’t believe people would be so willing to click on sites if they truly understood the horror being caused by this industry.[spacer height="20px"]
- I will be involved in people’s lives. A fact that I learned when researching human trafficking is that MOST runaways are never reported missing*. Besides the fact that they are hugely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, there is the horrible, sickening fact that there these kids have no adult in their lives looking out for their safety! That’s beyond disgusting. We have to care about kids besides our own if we are going to change things. [spacer height="20px"]
- Demand tougher sentencing for the perpetrators. (I don’t actually know how to go about this, but I really want to find out. I’m sure if enough people get behind it, we can change things.) No one who knows how much it takes for a victim to recover from exploitation, would be satisfied with a few-years prison sentence for the perpetrator. The current sentences for abusers are hardly a deterrent. Pimps make tons of money and predators are not rehabilitated in prison.
- Educate people every chance I get! I don’t believe that if people really knew how bad things are that we’d allow it to go on. These crimes are thriving because they are hidden. We as a nation are better than this!
*From the documentary Sex and Money available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK2oyWQRyIs
I know that I will not be able to solve this issue on my own. I know that abuse will continue to exist in our world as long as there are people in it. However, I know that I serve a God of justice who loves people more than I can even fathom. I know that I am forgiven and do not have to earn his grace but that grace compels me to want to be right beside him in the darkest places offering hope.