On February 27th, I made a choice to join with two organizations that are working to fight human trafficking – International Justice Mission (IJM) and End It Movement – in their social networking blackout. Those who took part in the day disappeared from all social media networks as a reminder and in honor of the estimated 27 million people worldwide who are living in slavery.
Before you say, “What good did it do those in slavery to have a bunch of people stay off Facebook for a day?” let me explain something. The idea was a simple one – the 27 million or so who live every day in slavery do not have a voice. They cannot express themselves to friends, family, and acquaintances on a whim. They cannot rant about the slow service they experienced at a fast food joint or quote song lyrics just because they want to. They live every day in terror, hoping to avoid angering those that own them. (Some experts state that human trafficking is the second most profitable business in the world, second only to drug running.) The blackout wasn’t about rescuing people. It was to allow those of us who are free to have a small taste of what it is like for those who cannot speak whenever they want to whomever they want.
I jumped on the blackout bandwagon and told Twitter and Facebook “farewell” late in the day on the 26th. When I woke up on the 27th, I was reminded of my pledge due to the fact that I had turned my background on my phone black. It took me all of an hour to feel grumpy with myself for making the commitment to stay off of social media (I also chose to add social bookmarking so no Pinterest for me either). And within seconds after whining to myself, I was slightly ashamed. I am a free woman. I have not been forced into either slave labor or sexual slavery. My sisters, my daughters, so many young people I care about are safe and out of harm’s way. 27 million people in the world cannot speak for themselves AT ALL and I’m going to get cranky over a self-imposed social networking blackout?!?!
I learned something yesterday. Actually, I was reminded of something yesterday. I am blessed beyond what I deserve. I have four healthy children who are NOT enslaved. I am able to send messages to my loved ones whenever I choose and they are able to respond in like fashion. I am more determined than ever to educate myself and others as to the tricks traffickers use. I am more certain now than ever that I must speak up when I can, donate what resources I can, and take whatever action I can to increase our understanding of this epidemic and, hopefully, see it’s downfall in my children’s lifetime. I may not be able to free all 27 million. But I can do my research, find ways to financially support those on the front lines of the fight and I can PRAY. How about you?
**Note about the photo – the necklace comes from The A21 Campaign as a part of their “Key2Free” annual project. Check out the link for more information!