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A recent movie viewing prompted my thinking along some new paths.

Our family saw “Lincoln” with Daniel Day Lewis giving an Oscar-worthy performance portraying the 16th US President.  Lincoln’s personal desire was to have all men be free; abolishing slavery and creating equal rights was a lifelong battle while trying to unite the country.  I can’t imagine how Lincoln must have felt when Congress passed an act banning slavery on federal territory in June of 1862.  I am guessing beyond any emotion I could describe.

So when this headline caught my attention in the Atlantic a few days later, my mind had already shifted into a place to receive the message: 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, buying and selling people into forced labor is bigger than ever.  http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/12/slaverys-global-comeback/266354/

There are now twice as many people enslaved in the world as there were in the 350 years of the transatlantic slave trade.

Slavery may be illegal but it is still with us, and has many names and guises.  The term human trafficking is one such label, and the US State Dept. has listed some of the ways this occurs while answering the question – What is Modern Slavery?  http://www.state.gov/j/tip/what/index.htm . Essentially, human trafficking is when someone is forced into (any kind of) service against their will.

I grasped how easy it is to think of slavery as something in the past and that lives in our history books.  And because I’ve held it that way, JJ Gould, author of this Atlantic article reminded me that this also means we have a harder time recognizing slavery today, in all its subtle and not so subtle forms.

This article prompted me to think about so much more than this sole topic, so expect a “part 2” to follow.  But in the meantime, this New Year I am challenging myself to have a greater awareness, and take stronger action to stop such crimes against a fellow human being; to develop a greater compassion for others; and to cultivate thankfulness for all the good things in my life – loved ones and friends are at the top of the list.

“The United States government considers trafficking in persons to include all of the criminal conduct involved in forced labor and sex trafficking, essentially the conduct involved in reducing or holding someone in compelled service. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act as amended (TVPA) and consistent with the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), individuals may be trafficking victims regardless of whether they once consented, participated in a crime as a direct result of being trafficked, were transported into the exploitative situation, or were simply born into a state of servitude. Despite a term that seems to connote movement, at the heart of the phenomenon of trafficking in persons are the many forms of enslavement, not the activities involved in international transportation.”

from What is Modern Slavery? http://www.state.gov/j/tip/what/index.htm

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To follow shortly: the relationship between a country’s tacit willingness to abide slavery and that country’s risk of being left behind by the currents of global civilization.

—Debbie Hindman

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