We ask you to make a choice. Take up a worthy cause. Be a part of history.
On Tuesday, April 9, a worthy organization known as END IT will make its official declaration during its "Shine a Light on Slavery Day."
Yes, we said it: slavery!
We all remember that Thomas Jefferson wrote the immortal words that placed the world on notice. Our first declaration told everyone that there was a new kid on the block, with a new worldview -- of right and wrong. It was the beginning of the American experiment outlined in our Declaration of Independence.
In 1776 he wrote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
The western world lives their lives blissfully ignorant that this declaration and its subsequent Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln settled this question --148 years ago. But, it did not.
Slavery exists today!
It is estimated that 27 million men, women, and children are enslaved around the world. That's more people than at any other time in recent history. From factories to brothels, private homes to fields, millions upon millions of people are living as modern-day slaves under the control of others using them for financial gain.
What is slavery? Slavery occurs when one person completely controls another person, using violence or the threat of violence to maintain that control, exploits them economically, pays them nothing and they cannot walk away.
This is happening today across the globe, in 161 countries, including our own.
So, what does modern-day slavery look like? According to END IT's website, the most common forms include bonded labor, forced labor and human trafficking:
"Bonded labor is one of the most widely used methods of slavery. A person becomes a bonded laborer when their labor is a means of payment for a loan... Forced labor is any work or services which people are forced to do, against their will under the threat of some form of punishment. Forced slave labor is most frequently found in labor intensive, under-regulated industries such as agriculture, fishing, domestic work, construction, mining, quarrying, manufacturing, prostitution and sexual exploitation... Human Trafficking involves transporting people away from the communities in which they live and forcing them to work against there will using violence, deception or coercion."
The facts about modern-day slavery:
- Today, the practice of slavery is "on the books" illegal in every country in the world.
- But slavery is prevalent in an estimated 161 countries, including the United States.
- Between 14,000 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the U.S. annually.
- According to CNN's Freedom Project, in 1850, the cost of a slave (in today's dollars) was $40,000. Today, the average price of a slave is $90.
- Slavery is an estimated $32 billion per year industry.
In the fall of 2012, President Obama gave the longest speech on slavery since President Lincoln. The reality of this global crisis is beginning to stir in our culture. People are starting to pay attention, but, if you were a slave, right now, would the awareness and action be fast enough.
Of course not. Decisive awareness and action is needed now.
Feb. 1, 2013 was National Freedom Day. The "The END IT Movement" chose this symbolic day to officially launch its cause. The cause is comprised of seven nonprofit organizations, aiming to shine a light on modern-day slavery.
Its members include The A21 Campaign, Free the Slaves, Made In A Free World, Love146, International Justice Mission (IJM), Not For Sale and Polaris Project, all of which are working around the globe to rescue, restore and prevent human trafficking.
According to END IT's press release:
"When most Americans hear the term 'slavery,' they think of a practice that ended with the Civil War," said coalition partner Gary Haugen, President and CEO of the human rights agency "International Justice Mission (IJM). "Sadly, that is not the case. The END IT Movement is shining a light on the darkness of human trafficking and awakening our nation and the world to the reality that slavery lives on today."
All of END IT's efforts thus far, have been focused on building a groundswell of awareness on college campuses, throughout communities, in faith-based congregations and across popular culture. These efforts are all culminating on Tuesday, April 9, on that day END IT has declared "Shine a Light on Slavery Day."
The End It Movement is simple.
On April 9, draw a red X on your hand in honor of the 27 million. Then tweet/post a video about it and tell everyone you know.
END IT believes "awareness is doing the work," and that this simple act of drawing a red X on your hand will provoke questions as it encourages discussions about slavery. But, awareness is only the first step. Without a follow-up campaign, at the grass roots level, there will be no long-term impact. The defenseless, the voiceless will remain in bondage. This effort could fail without each and every one of you.
That is why we encourage you to study the organizations listed above that comprise this worthy cause.
Visit the END IT website and download the tool kit.
Find one organization of the many which you will embrace, become an agent of change in social networking, in your community, with your friends, relatives, and peer groups.
Call your own congressman and in your strongest words demand that they take action.
Stand up for the hopeless, the voiceless, the imprisoned, and the slaves.
You can make a difference, take a stand; your voice will strengthen the cause.
Make this your intent. Join the cause. Send out this video.
By Ken Robinson & James Thompson