When I was in Elementary School we learned that Slavery here in the United States ended in 1865 when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Unfortunately, the message did not reach all of the slaves in America until much later. Which is why we now have a Federal Holiday celebrating Juneteenth.
As a young student in the 1960’s, I simply assumed that this event marked the end of slavery in our world. I could not have been more wrong. Slavery is still practiced – and accepted – in many countries throughout our world today. It is believed that right now there are more slaves in our world than at any time in human history. And much of that takes place in the form of Human Trafficking.
Currently there are nearly 46 million adults and children who are victims of Human Trafficking in our world. This takes place in many different forms, especially when the impoverished people in developing countries are trafficked to a wealthy country based on promises of jobs and education that are never fulfilled. As a result, they are held against their will in deplorable conditions.
The most grievous form of Human Trafficking involves the exploitation of children. Quite often their parents are so poor that they allow their children to leave home in hopes of a better life. But it rarely turns out that way. The voices of children are never heard among the outpouring of noise from the mouths of wealthy adults.
I have many friends who have dedicated their lives to bringing an end to Human Trafficking. A number of them are members of the Religious Sisters of Charity, and of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. These women have seen first hand the exploitation of those who are most vulnerable, and they are working diligently to establish programs designed to protect those who are being exploited.
They say, “If you see something – say something!” I would encourage you to read the article entitled, “Human Trafficking: What Would You Do in These Scenarios?” It can be found at: www.lacatholics.org/did-you-know/
The top movie at the box office right now is the latest “Mission: Impossible” film. What is the second highest grossing film? “The Sound of Freedom” which is based on the true story of a Federal Agent who becomes aware of the exploitation of a young boy. Then he finds out what is happening to his sister and other children, and he is forced to make a decision as to whether to keep his job or do what is right. This film is difficult to watch at times, but the message of one person standing up against evil is the message that we need to hear in our world today.
We all know that there is evil in our world. And quite often we simply throw up our hands and say. “But there is nothing I can do about it!” I disagree. One person, seeing something – and saying something – can make a huge difference in a victim’s life. And, we can support the Sisters who have dedicated their lives to sharing the Good News of the Gospel by their words and their actions!
May the Lord continue to bless us always and in all ways,
Father Paul Spellman