Who is your favorite historical hero?
I don't know that I could pick just one, but names like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, and Susan B. Anthony come to mind. As I sit and review my short list, I pause to consider why, exactly, we consider these men and women heroes. We could say that we admire them for the things they did, or at least attempted to do. Of course their actions are ultimately what defined their lives and made them famous, but I think the reason why they are heroes goes even deeper than that. To me, the real reason why these men and women are heroes is because, despite the insurmountable odds, they each had a passion to, first, save lives and, second, to help their brothers and sisters live better lives by working to ease the yolk of oppression.
So how about you? Are you a hero?
Today there are 27 million slaves in this world, many of them right here in the good ol'US of A. Some interesting facts:
- That's more slaves than the peak of the trans-Atlantic African slave trade
- Human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest illegal industry in the world (after drugs, before illegal weapons sales)
- The average investment for a slave owner in the 1800s was equivalent to $40k. The average slave today costs $90. (That's what I pay for my iPhone each month).
- 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation. 19% is labor related.
- 70% of victims are women and 50% are children
- Victims are usually from economically vulnerable areas
This an emergency.
I've been passionate about ending human trafficking for four years now and I can't tell you how TIRED I am of talking about it and having people bringing up the African slave trade and how they're still upset about that. (Interesting to note, it's usually men and they usually bring it up when I bring up sexual exploitation.) Granted, I understand and agree that it was a horrible and dark point in history, but the reality is that the African slave trade, along with other atrocious human rights violations of the past are just that: in the past. We all like to think we would have stood up to Hitler or signed the 13th amendment, but right now there are men, women, and children suffering and dying as slaves and for us to bemoan the past is not only hypocritical, but allows these injustices to continue through our ignorance and inaction.
And then I found this website and my heart for joy because this is exactly what I've been preaching for years now:
We live in an exciting time in history.
With the power of the Internet and our ability to interact with the global community you and I actually have the power to do something about human trafficking in our daily lives:
Whether it is educating yourself,
whether it is speaking out against it,
whether it is calling when you see something suspicious,
whether it is learning who makes your clothes and who harvests your coffee and only supporting suppliers with transparent supply lines and fair trade practices,
whether it is joining (or starting) a local awareness and advocacy group,
whether it's devoting your entire life to the cause,
whether it's alleviating and eliminating contributing factors,
whether it is educating vulnerable populations,
whether it's a letter/email your local representative,
whether it's the small choice or a huge sacrifice to end the demand,
whether it is financially supporting abolitionist groups:
Whatever it is that you do, if YOU have the passion to save lives and to help others live better lives, you can do it.
Just show up.
Just show up.
Just speak up.
Just be here now.
So again I ask:
Are you a hero?