I am a fourth grade teacher. I love so many things about my job, but my absolute favorite subject to teach is history. Each year, the fourth grade begins our study of American history with the Civil War. We discuss the issues that lead to the war, such as states’ rights, slavery and racism. It is difficult for a nine year old to really grasp the idea that an entire group of people were subjected to forced labor, considered property, and that somehow their owners justified all this with the Bible. It’s hard for me to grasp.
There we were discussing “history” when a hand raised and asked the question, “How is it that those people back then could have done such a terrible thing and not known it was wrong?”
This is a question for every age.
When people look back on our day-and-age, will they be questioning how we could allow 35 million slaves to exist all over the world? Will they be wondering how the church just turned their back? Or will they be saying, “This was the generation that did something about this evil!” I sure hope it is the latter.
My first real education into the issues of modern day slavery came with the book Disposable People by Kevin Bales. I sat curled in my bed, not wanting to read it in the presence of others. It was too horrible to wrap my head around. The book took you from nation to nation explaining some of the most common forms of slavery in a particular region, be it brick kilns of Pakistan, the charcoal industry in Brazil, or farm hands in India. I would continue to read about other forms of slave labor such as children in Ghana forced to work in the fishing industry, people chained to tables in factories making fireworks, and women trapped in homes working as maids. I would learn that this occurs in the United States as well as in every other nation in the world, despite the fact that slavery is illegal everywhere. I read of the ways in which people would become trapped in this life whether through dept bondage, kidnapping, or trickery. I would discover the violence and threats that would keep them there. And I would learn that poverty was intimately tied to the $150 billion dollar industry.
But I would find hope as well. I would find out that there are people doing something about it. Many people. I would come to discover that I could do something. I could lend my voice to those who are unable to speak. As part of the richest nation in the world, and globally in the top 10% of income earners, I can provide much needed resources. I can give of my time and my talents to aid organizations that are on the front lines.
You can too. Go to our Get Involved section and check out the organizations making a difference. Each of them offers ways to support them in freeing slaves, working to fix broken justice systems, restoring victims, and preventing new victims. Your time, talents, and gifts can make a difference.