Born in the Right Place at the Right TimeEssays, Social Justice — By Ellen Topness on July 10, 2012 at 11:25 am
I am free to write of problems, pain, and the journey towards personal emotional freedom because I am legally and physically free. The privilege of self-expression and exploration is not one unjustly enslaved people enjoy. The task of battling to survive the day leaves little room for self-analysis. The world is full of individuals willing to become jailor or warden in the profession of taking innocence captive. Captivity has many names, including slavery, sex-abuse, sex-trafficking, torture, forced hard labor, child labor, and institutionalized poverty.
I am blessed with freedom from fear of being personally affected by most of these horrific traumas simply because I was born in the right place at the right time. Much of the globe cannot say the same. Though the overt slave trade of history was abolished, it wasn’t destroyed. It is alive and well and thriving. This should cause us all to squirm a bit. Ignorance is only an excuse if we intentionally remain blind to the truth.
The bondage and oppression of individuals takes many forms. For example, young girls and boys may be forced into the sexual trafficking underground economy. In certain parts of the world this occurs through kidnapping or in misleading parents into believing lies of a better life for their hungry child. Sadly, impoverished families may actually be the venders of their vulnerable children. These children are often subject to torture, threats, or forced drugging in order to make them compliant to being raped, repeatedly, day after day. At some point they may give up the will to fight and give in to becoming a “thing” that is treated as less valuable than a household pet or object. If they escape or somehow manage to leave, they often end up back in their miserable, yet familiar, place of degradation and devaluation. This is because they have become addicted to drugs given to them by their abusers to keep them compliant, are treated as outcasts in their homes, have come to believe that they can do nothing else, or have been brain-washed into thinking their abuser is their savior.
Other individuals, including children, may become slaves in factories, forced into working long hours in intolerable working conditions so the owners can grow rich and fat selling the produced “stuff” to us, the privileged. We buy it so we can enjoy life in comfort and ease. The information about the workers may make us sad, but we can rest in knowing it takes place in other countries we judge as “backward and barbaric”. (While we continue to purchase these items and thus allow the inhumane practice to flourish).
However, the United States and other western countries are quite active in contributing to slavery and oppression. For example, we have always been great consumers and are willing to ignore the pain of people we cannot see and do not know in order to get a bargain price on an item. And we do not need to go very far at all to find other examples and evidence of modern day slavery in this land of the free.
Pimping of underage girls and boys happens every day in most cities in this country. Many who utilize the services of these children would never verbally condone slavery or suggest that child rape is acceptable; yet they are actively participating in these crimes. They tell themselves this is prostitution, a victim-less crime. They lie. It is child abuse and rape if the person is under-age. The john is a pedophile and participating in the modern slave-trade. Even of-age prostitutes are victims of pimps controlling through physical force, violence, emotional abuse, mind-games, and drug addiction. These of-age prostitutes likely were first sold to buyers while they were still legally children.
I am convinced that true freedom for those of us who have what the world considers legal freedom and monetary freedom (meaning we have enough to possess a place of our own to sleep in and food at our table consistently) is to use this gift that was given to us not by our merit, but by God’s design. We need to muster the courage, energy, and will to fight for these truly imprisoned and tortured fellow beloved-by-God human beings.
A good place to start is to become informed. Explore the easily accessed information on these issues found on the internet. There are many agencies that educate, advocate, and actively fight slavery and oppression.
As you seek to help in the fight for freedom, you may need to begin to embrace your personal freedom. You may need to seek healing and respite from chains that bind and prevent you from truly giving to others. These may be in the form of addictions, painful memories, or trauma and abuse issues. It is true freedom to acknowledge pain and seek healing.
For today, maybe you can start by committing to pray for those imprisoned unjustly, oppressed, abused, and degraded. As you pray, ask for guidance on how you can best be used in this battle. Pray for your personal healing from bondage and self-made prisons and the ability to grasp the Christ-gift of freedom. We need to do this in order to be able to truthfully reassure those in need that we are a safe refuge for wounded, fragile victims of the worst in man.