If I’m honest, I clicked through the questions with a large share of smugness. How many slaves work for me? I thought. Can’t be that many. I figured my fairly simple lifestyle would give me a pretty low score.
My self-assurance peeked during the part of the quiz where you removed products which you don’t use from a virtual medicine cabinet. I don’t wear make-up, which the infographic to the side helpfully told me is a huge exploiter of slaves in South Asia. With the removal of each eye liner and foundation bottle, I could feel my score dropping…
That’s how many slaves (however far away, however distant) have kept me using the things I use, wearing the things I wear, eating the things I eat.
Good Lord, I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.
I’m sorry for thinking that a “low score” would be some sort of victory when zero is the only acceptable reality.
Staring that number in the face I thought, What if even one of those slaves were my sister?
What if it were my sister being beaten by her owner to ensure she keeps servicing the men who’re paying for her body?
What if it were my sister working in dangerous, numbing conditions to mine the minerals that went into my laptop, my iPod, my cellphone?
What if it were my sister bonded for life to work in a sweatshop sewing my clothes – without the opportunity for a life-sustaining wage, education, or joy?
Thirty slaves work for me.
And those thirty slaves ARE my sisters. And my brothers.
If I am to believe Jesus and the doctrine of a humanity made in the image of God, then I can believe no less.
Good Lord, forgive us. For what we have done to the least of these, we have also done to You.
In the movie Amazing Grace, William Wilberforce’s future wife, Barbara Spooner tells him that in the early days of the fight against the British slave trade, she stopped taking sugar in her tea. This horrified her [proper British] parents while she terrorized her friends with the thought that there was “slave blood in every drop” of sugar.
She sounded crazy to her parents and friends. I’m sure she was counseled against “going overboard” and told her personal decision wasn’t going to change anything.
And yet it’s those overboard dreamers who refused to allow their personal responsibility to be expunged by overwhelming odds that ended up changing the world.
If my sister were sold for $90 (the going rate for a slave in the US. Yes, the United States), I would never stop declaring to the world that she is of such infinite value that God’s Son Himself paid blood for her freedom.
If my sister were being held in a brothel, raped on an hourly basis, and I couldn’t go personally to that location –I would move heaven and earth from where I am to set her free.
If my sister were a slave, I would go overboard, appeal to all who would listen (and those who wouldn’t), make her my personal responsibility, and ignore the odds with resolve.
And with my sisters, my brothers, in slavery – how can I do anything less?
If it were your sister, wouldn’t you want to know how much of what you consume is contributing to the problem?
If it were your brother, wouldn’t you want to be involved in setting him free?
If it were your daughter, wouldn’t you find a way to help in her recovery?