Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful for Those Who Teach and Inspire

Yesterday, I finished a social justice class at my church. I've been around this issue for quite awhile and didn't really expect to learn much new. I attended the class mainly to support its leaders and because it seemed like the right thing to do. What I didn't realize was how much insight could be brought to the issue of modern-day slavery through a book study and interaction on the discussion questions.

Each week we read a chapter of In Our Backyard by Nita Belles. Then we brought our own unique perspectives to the issues. Those new to this travesty were astounded by the magnitude of the problems. They can be overwhelming even for the most ardent abolitionists.

The book reminded us of the importance of one human life by quoting Eleanor Roosevelt . 

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home--so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individiual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works.

We treasure our human rights and many of us will give thanks for them this Thursday. But all around us are individuals whose human rights are being trampled. In some small way (or maybe even a bigger way) each of us can make a difference. 

Yesterday our group's leaders, Jeff Snawder and Tamiko Chacon, encouraged a discussion about how we might be involved. One person's heart breaks for the small children being trafficked, some as young as 3 & 4 years old. She's not sure what to do about it yet, but over time the answers will come. Another one has contributed through business means and may explore how to those in poverty keep from being at risk. A third wants to work with survivors. 

There was discussion about reaching out to pimps and Johns--and even more consideration of ways to help young men learn to respect women so that becoming a John will be unthinkable. A decrease in demand will decrease the need for a supply.

 As for me, I'm more motivated than ever to continue building awareness because every girl who recognizes a trafficker's lies will be one less girl subjected to this nightmare. (If you are so inclined, you can help with increasing awareness simply by cutting and pasting a link to  this blog along with a comment on Facebook.)

Every person can make a difference. The place to start is with learning, and there's no better way than to start with a book. In Our Backyard gives a great overview of various forms of slavery. I learned more than I'd expected, especially about the Stockholm syndrome and how that makes working with victims so difficult. And, I'm grateful. Our interactions on this book made me even more passionate about exposing the lies behind the evil.

One woman (who didn't attend our class) started a book study at her work. Are there people who might like to study the book with you? It's an easy read and the questions generate such good discussions, an eagerness to learn is all that's required. How might someone who's a modern-day slave be thankful you took the time to learn more?

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