Everywhere I go there seems to be someone with a notebook cover, t-shirt, or some other emblem against trafficking. Trafficking is one of the greatest evils of our time, but I can’t help but wonder if we haven’t almost turned it into the cool thing to be against. I wonder how many people actually do something constructive versus talking about the issue.
I attended an excellent human trafficking forum this last week held by our friends at Administer Justice. As nearly 60 people gathered to learn more, I thought of two areas that we ought to focus more on when we talk about trafficking.
First, as my friend Gary Haugen says trafficking is hard work. It is not glamorous. It is time consuming. Not many people today seem to really want to be involved in that level of commitment. I also don’t think there is much most people can do outside of critical prayer and financial support. However, I do think everyone can attack the root causes of labor and sex trafficking – the dehumanizing of people. Trafficking treats the poor, immigrants, runaways and other vulnerable individuals as insignificant objects to be used – as slaves. Some of the same ideas can be seen in how we approach the poor, immigrants and others in national debates today. Let’s speak up for the poor and destitute. Let’s also take a stand against the root cause of sex slavery which is sex demand. The demand for sex whether through pornography, prostitution or trafficking are symptoms of a larger problem we have in saying sex should be freely available. When we degrade sex to mere pleasure we encourage rape and the maltreatment of women. Let’s get as fired up over those issues.
Second, I wonder why we don’t get as upset over other exploitation which regularly takes place in our neighborhoods. Don’t get me wrong. The enslavement of people for labor or sex is a grievous evil, but certainly it is evil to physically abuse a woman as well. Isn’t it evil to financially exploit a senior citizen, to steal someone’s identity, to refuse to pay wages, and other real challenges faced by people in our neighborhood?
We can actually get involved in making a difference in most of these local issues. We can meet the victim, encourage them, connect them to the church, social services and get engaged in the legal challenges involved. I would love to see more people not just talking and actually doing something to make a difference. I sincerely hope trafficking isn’t cool. I hope people don’t turn a blind eye to other challenges taking place in our midst. And I hope people start talking less, and doing more. After all the Samaritan didn’t set up a coffee shop near the injured man so he could put up posters and talk about the terrors of the Jericho road. Instead he saw a neighbor in need and he did something. Let’s do the same.
Let’s go and do likewise.