“Your ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise that every human life is of inestimable value”. Desmond Tutu (b. 1931) South African human rights activist and retired Anglican bishop
This past weekend we had a guest speaker at our church. He was there to talk about his volunteer ministry based in Des Moines, Beza Threads, which helps rescue Ethiopian girls from the sex slave trade, as well as emancipate boys from slave labor. I listened to his stories of how small children were bought and sold, for as little as a few dollars, and I felt both sadness and disgust rising in my heart. If you thought that slavery of any kind was a thing of the past, you are wrong; it is more prevalent than you even know.
Today there are an estimated 8.4 million child slaves in the world, 1.8 million of those being sex slaves. But slavery today is a bit different than it was centuries ago – if you can believe it, people are valued for even less than they used to be. To put it in perspective, in today’s dollars, a slave bought in 1850 cost around $40,000. Today, the average cost of a slave is $90. The depravity of human beings towards the most vulnerable in society never ceases to amaze me. How can anyone reduce the value of another human being to just a number? Do we not all have intrinsic value?
I know that it would be easy to brush this reality aside as something that only the uneducated, barbaric, third world would engage in and support. Surely our well educated Western culture would never tolerate such behavior towards anyone, especially children. Sadly, that is not the case. We already see the low value our society places on children; we need look no further at the millions of babies aborted in our county, most of them being minority. Even our own President said that pregnancy would be a “punishment” to his own girls. What does that say about us when children are not seen by all as a precious gift? Not only that, we are also starting to see the diminished value of women in our society; the continued focus on our lady parts instead of our lady smarts is downright demeaning- are we not more than the sum of our equipment? Are we truly to believe that women are smart enough to make the choice of killing their baby in the womb, but not smart enough to defend ourselves or even that same baby once she’s outside of it? When the liberal University of Colorado tells women that they should vomit or urinate on themselves to prevent a rape, when Democratic State Representative Joe Salazar claims that women do not even know what real rape is, and when Democratic commentator Bob Beckel claims that campus rape does not even exist, I am starting to see a belief system emerging where women also have diminished value, and are not worthy enough to be protected. The slave trade in Ethiopia is blatant; in Western society it is far more subtle. Here, the victims are seen as slaves to a brutal pre-ordained agenda, where it is the agenda, and not the person, which has value.
A society which truly values people seeks to empower them, setting them free to live as they see fit. It reinforces the idea that the individual is the rightful master of his or her own destiny, created for a purpose, and worthy of the happiness they seek. It believes that they have a right to defend what is most precious to them – their lives, their family, their property, and their future. Such a society values the whole person; it does not believe them to be mere objects to satisfy the desires of another, be they physical or political.
We are all created in the image and likeness of God, designed for a purpose. We have value and as such have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As a redeemed people of value we are empowered with the ability to change the world for the better. Anyone who says otherwise is no better than a slave trader, and its time that we call them out for what they are.
For more information on a way you can help free children from slavery in Ethiopia, go to bezathreads.org