A New Banner #EndItMovement
I have noticed something peculiar about traveling as a Houstonian. When a person not from Houston finds out you are from Houston, the phrase “Houston, we have a problem” quickly enters the conversation. The famous phrase from the Apollo 13 mission has become associated with the city, and has been used to reference anyone that has a problem. But the truth is that right now, America, we have a problem. We are a nation battling demons of division. We wrestle with everything from politics to racism. On a day when we focus on the horrors of modern-day slavery, the particular problem I am thinking about right now is the legacy of slavery in America and the enduring slavery that exists today.
My most recent encounter with anything to do with American slavery was during a visit to Gettysburg a few years ago. What struck me most about the experience was the horrible loss of life on both sides, and that at the end of the war, each man who was fortunate enough to survive went home as an American. Immediately after the war, slavery had been abolished, and Abraham Lincoln strove to accept former Confederates back into the fold as equals, making it his priority to focus on that which unites us, setting aside the recent pain of war in order to achieve a greater unity, as “a house divided against itself cannot stand”.
The harrowing truth that we must not fail to recognize is that no matter how hard we try to do it, we simply cannot unite as a people until we together choose to confront not only the legacy of the past, but also the real issues of our day.
I am glad that my church, along with many others, have led the way in this fight by taking a strong stand against human trafficking, and churches are engaging in real ways to support organizations that daily engage in the fight against trafficking. As we address the lingering legacy of the slave trade in our nation, the startling, glaring fact is that the slave trade not only still exists, but thrives in greater numbers today than at any time in world history. And although awareness is growing, and action is happening, we cannot deny that we as a nation are blatantly ignoring it. As we consider the horrors of American slavery, we are obliged to take a moment and absorb the fact that there are more slaves in the world today than were seized from Africa during four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
At a moment in which men, women, and children are being enslaved, raped, murdered and sold as property both here at home and around the world, there is a certain arrogance in turning our backs to those who still live through the nightmare we claim to despise.
There are an estimated 28-35 million human souls on this planet who daily endure the highest forms of unspeakable abuse and torture.
We as Americans generally consider ourselves to be civilized and advanced. Perhaps we should rather be embarrassed and humiliated that we’ve lost the plot of our great American novel in order to chase the fading allure of tabloid headlines.
As we now consider and address the evils of humanity, both past and present, and as we proclaim that the institution of slavery was and is and will always be evil, let us not be so myopic as to neglect the present suffering that still rages across the face of the earth. While we entangle ourselves in debate about what black people should be and white people should be, who is privileged and who isn’t, which lives matter and which don’t, and who should use what bathroom at sporting events, the world daily endures terror and patiently cries out for our action.
Slavery and trafficking of people is not a liberal or conservative issue, nor is it a religious or secular issue; it is a human issue that should shake us to the core and be of utmost urgency. What argument could be made from either end of the spectrum or any position in-between that suggests freedom from slavery is not a priority for all humankind?
Can there be such an argument?
In any action we take to set right that which is wrong, let us first address the pressing matter of our generation: let us raise a new banner of Justice, and unite with determination against the evil which continues to demean all who are created in the image of God. That banner is one we may proudly raise and defend.
A great way to start is by supporting these effective and reputable organizations that are already leading the way: