A rally was held in Nigeria earlier this week to protest that government’s inaction against the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram (translated “Western Education Is Sinful”). The group recently kidnapped some 230 school girls, and is selling them into slavery for as little as $12 or “marrying” them to their captors .
Though estimates vary, there are as many as 30 million men, women, and children entrapped in slavery, as I write this.
Included among these are forced laborers recruited under threat of violence, by governments and political parties; chattel slaves abducted from their homes – bought, sold, inherited, and given as gifts; bonded laborers whose loans – impossible of repayment – can be passed from generation to generation; child soldiers; child brides in forced marriages; children engaged in toil destructive of their health and well-being; and sexually exploited women and children, now a basis for sex tourism.
If any of this sounds familiar to Americans, it should. The impact of slavery on our country has been immense. It is a lasting scar the extent of which cannot be summed up in a few neat words.
But slavery has not been confined to a single race or nation. Slavery is referenced as far back as the Code of Hammurabi and the Bible . Slavery existed in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome; in Ireland, Poland, and elsewhere across the globe. It existed among Christians and Muslims. Slave labor camps in the form of gulags were utilized as a political tool by Russia until 1960. They persist in China (under the name “laogai”) and North Korea today.
By focusing exclusively on grievances of the past – albeit, legitimate grievances – we may overlook the chance we have as Americans of every stripe to make a difference in the present.
The evils (and insidious after-effects) of slavery should, if anything, make America the nation foremost in seeking an end worldwide to that institution, once and for all. Instead, we remain a house divided, consumed by our own pain. Continue reading