Today was the first day of LIFE Week at the University of San Diego. Living. Is. For. Everyone. LIFE. Co-sponsored by Students For Life, University Ministry, Associated Students, Students for Peace, Women’s Center, Romero Center, Residential Life, and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies LIFE Week is dedicated to bringing awareness to different life issues. Each day this week, in conjunction with LIFE Week I will be posting on the corresponding topic to the day.
I am not for sale. You are not for sale. No one should be for sale.
Author and co-founder of the Not For Sale Campaign, David Batstone, gave a multi-media presentation this evening. Musical artists Novice and Brant Christopher accented the presentation. I do not know if my words can represent the caliber of this evening, but I will try… and I will let the facts speak for themselves.
Today, March 30, 2009, there are 27 million people enslaved. Slavery, as defined by the U.S. Constitution’s 13th Amendment is “involuntary servitude.” Is this person free to leave? Has she been forced? Is he confined? Human trafficking generates $32 BILLION a year. There are 800,000-900,000 people bought and sold and 200,000 of those are in the United States. The vast majority of those being trafficked are women (80%) and 50% are children. One million individuals are bought and sold for sex.
These are a handful of statistics, but the numbers are overwhelming. In many ways, they are hard to grasp. For me, it is hard to imagine that slavery still exists in my backyard. It is not simply a matter of low wages or people being paid under the table (which isn’t to say that that is simple). It is also not a matter of employees being treated poorly and unjustly. It is slavery. It should have been eradicated long, long ago. But, it’s not gone. People are bought and sold. Can you imagine it? Think of your friends. Your family: your sisters, brothers, children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, mothers, aunts, and cousins. Your students. Your clients. Think of the people you know, especially the youth, and imagine others of the same age as slaves. Chained to sewing machines. Pleasing adults clients. Picking fruit. They are not paid and they cannot leave. They are a commodity to be bought and sold. Tell me it doesn’t make you sick.
Novice included in one of his songs the distinction that we care more about the soles on our shoes that the souls of people. We have the power within us to make that NOT TRUE. There are many ways that we can get involved.
Check out FREE2WORK. If you are a business of one, 10, 50, 500, or more… become a part of FREE2WORK. If you are an individual, consider whether the places you go are free. For example, when you’re planning an event, check to see that the restaurant or venue you are choosing has committed to be slave-free.
If 20% of consumers shopped differently, it would make an impact on the way companies did business. Imagine instead of 1 in 5 shoppers though, if 2 or 3 or 100% of shoppers demanded ethics and slave-free items available for purchase. Not For Sale is currently running a chocolate campaign… if you can commit to purchasing slave-free chocolate, it will make a difference. You may wonder, but how will it make a difference? You can print a “proof of non-purchase” to distribute to locations that do not carry slave-free chocolate.
Still not sure how you can help? What do YOU like to do? Do you play soccer? Run? Play music? Swim? Ice skate? What if you made a pledge to donate to Not For Sale … whether it be $5 every time you run five miles or a nickel every time you make a basket or $50 for every time you play a certain song. You make the choice. How do you play? All kids should be free to play.
We need to relate differently and if we work, buy, and play differently… we will relate differently. We have the power to make a difference. We can end slavery. We can be a part of the change. As Brant Christopher sang, “this too shall be made right.” Let’s pray that we can make it right sooner rather than later. If we pay attention, listen, learn, share, fight, believe… we can re-abolish slavery. Human trafficking can come to an end.
I bought Batstone’s book Not For Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade—and How We Can Fight It tonight after his presentation, so this definitely won’t be the last you’ll hear on this. I was told the book might “ruin” me. As if the presentation didn’t? It did and I’m glad. I hope the book does too. My understanding on slavery and human trafficking was deepened in unbelievable ways this evening and I will continue to raise awareness and do the best I can to fight slavery. I will stand up as an abolitionist to re-abolish slavery.
What will you do?