It was like any other event, filled with attendees from across the county, reaching folks as far away as Fremont. Wonderful really and such a meaningful cause.
We gathered to hear important news. News of what this organization is doing and how they need our funds and support to get it done. Pioneers really. They are trekking into the harsh and difficult territory of saving and rebuilding lives of those rescued from trafficking.
Trafficking: the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
Trafficking is the fastest growing crime worldwide and America is one of the largest culprits of this offense. If we stop to consider, this really comes as no surprise. We are riddled with a history of human exploitation and still to this day, live in denial of it.
To learn more about Trafficking and its corresponding statistics read here: http://www.polarisproject.org/storage/documents/2014statistics.pdf
“Such an important thing to do,” she said as she wiped tears from her cheeks while they continued reeling off statistic after statistic, story after story of crimes against laborers, women and children. Looking around the room I could see many with their heads bowed and sullen expressions as they listened to the words stream.
Our bodies carried the news as if we were hearing it for the first time, allowing the weight and impact of trafficking facts to hit our privileged lives as we sat in a community center filled with raffles, gift baskets, food and merriment.
The room grew more and more silent and heavy and I grew increasingly restless. My spirit stirred with a building frustration. Not just because of atrocities being told but because of the emerging systemic fundamentals that are at play in the very room we were gathered in to hear.
“It is among these very people” I muttered inside my mind and “no one is laying any truth to it. Why can’t they see? No one is telling them,” I thought.
As statistics spoke of the at-risk kids being among the greatest victims, no one was speaking to the back story of what makes these kids at risk in the first place.
How easy it is for us to put our imaginations to work over considering the facts. Yes, left to our imaginations we lay down a distance between what is really happening and how our attitudes and opinions are culprit or complicit to the very atrocities we want to end.
As many present wiped their tears in remorse for those within their minds I thought, “there are children within our reach who get no tears. What about them?”
For many present they’ve been taught to take their bibles literally. To me, they are caught in a system of oppression that seeks to control their thinking, “what does the bible say” is a common rebuttal for those in power. For them it is easier to raise their bible as weapon than it is to read it with the humility it demands.
In my opinion, not only does this constrict our ability to love as Jesus loves (loving our enemy as ourselves) but it limits our ability to integrate our faith into the world around us.
In my experience, this impacts what we show-up for and the things we say are “put upon our hearts” by God. We risk our actions being less an act built of compassion to becoming more an act of charity.
Think about it. It only makes sense it would be this way. As long as we enter faith without questioning and wrestling with it, the less dirty we get on the issues of life, love and justice and the less we are willing to stop what we are doing, to cross the road and care for those we think less of.
If theirs is simply a problem that fails to follow what is explicitly written than the solution is one of judgment over grace, of fixing-them over changing us.
To illustrate my point, consider this:
The text is often used to condemn those who identify themselves as homosexual. Homosexuality has been criticized most within evangelical fundamental circle, correct? It is those who read the bible ‘literally’ that have the most ardent position against the LGBT+ community, right?
Well here are some facts to digest:
1) 40% of an areas runaways are homosexuals. When asked most say, “I got kicked out when I came out.” Delving deeper, most say they either had to leave or were forced to leave because of their orientation or identification. The thing most often cited were ‘religious’ convictions or judgment upon them by their parents and community.
2) 85% of these runaways find themselves selling their bodies in order to get a place to lay their head.
3) Runaways are picked up by a perpetrator within 24 hours of being homeless. Predators look for victims, children, they can exploit for gain.
With these children running away because they are not being accepted for their orientation or identification aren’t we feeding the predators pipeline? I think so.
But how convenient it is for us to enter into situations where we gather to raise funds and eat to our fulfillment while leaving those on the edge to fend for themselves….why even a dog gets God’s scraps…do they not?
And this stance, the one I am railing upon is known, right? We see it everywhere we look. We hear it or are reminded of it every day. Some take the text we study and pray with as a doctrinal truth over being the faith-narrative it is, filled with struggle and contradiction.
The truth, the only one I know to embrace is, the God we seek is less interested in the pages we’ve written to nail God down and more interested in the very lives we pass-by and step-over everyday. Do we want to know where God is? Do we want to see Jesus? Look beyond the pages and into the eyes of the discarded lives tossed to the side.
“But the bible is the literal word of God,” are the words I often hear whenever I say some of the things I say. But to me, I find these words are being used to justify a denial of inclusion to those different which makes me think… “When will it stop? God is who I worship not the bible. To do otherwise would undermine the life and spirit of the One sent to show us how to live?”
Here it is Lent. We are once again ushering towards the hill in Golgotha. Year after year we revisit, reflect and renew our spirits, wanting to near ourselves to the life and truth of Jesus.
So why can’t we? Why can’t we carry the cross, burdening our shoulders over theirs? Why can’t we lift it high, nailing our arrogance and privilege to its poles? Why can’t we allow this to drop into the hole we’ve dug, letting the weight of our judgment and self-righteousness be killed instead of …one more life. one more child. one more time.
If we care about the ending of Human Trafficking? If we want to eradicate it from our society? We must embrace the ugly facts that sit alongside it and say – no more! We must find new ways to read the scripture provided 2000 years ago – reading it from a way that includes over excludes, liberates over enslaves and justifies over condemns.
The fact that I raised, the truth of homeless youth is but 1 of the under-girding realities that feeds the trafficking pipeline. To support these pioneering agencies and activists at work to prevent and protect the trafficked is important but without regard to the societal structures and ills that feed the pipeline is complicit. Complicity becomes part of the problem over the solution….we must, “God has placed upon my heart” be the solution.
Immigration – people needing to live invisible lives, going under the radar of where they are and what they do for a living. Do we actually think they are not at more risk than you and I of being trafficked?
Women – crimes against, oppression and sexual exploitation of women; victimizing the victim, objectifying women, deducing them to how they look. Do we really think we should be doing this in light of rape and trafficking?
Think? Are there more? I bet you can think of some….