Y’all, I am riding a social justice high right now. We had an amazing meeting two nights ago with our little task force. Our merry, merry band of abolitionists is fired up and ready to go! It is so encouraging to be with friends who are committed to fighting injustice. Though I’ve only known most of these women for a short-time, it felt more like a reunion rather than our first meeting. I left with the same energy as after meeting with an old friend for coffee. These women are smart, creative, passionate, and committed to making a difference in our community and around the world.
Social justice has always been a passion of mine ever since I was a little kid. In kindergarten, I led my class in a protest to save the sea turtles – their habitats were being disrupted by coastal lighting which caused babies to go away from the ocean after birth and then die – normal kindergarten stuff, no? Often times, this bent towards social justice can feel disjointed and exhausting. Each new cause brings an onslaught of hope and despair, passion and fatigue. However, with trafficking, the passion lines up with my passion for orphans and vulnerable children, particularly those in foster care, and a great wave of passion is born! I can simultaneously fight for trafficking (and potential trafficking) victims while also advocating for orphans locally and globally. I may not be in a position to foster or adopt right now, but I can support foster and adoptive families, purchase my Christmas presents from slave-free vendors, and I can raise awareness in my community.
One commitment I’m making this Christmas is to focus on the gifts I give and learning where they come from. If, to the best of my ability, the origins of the products or their materials are unknown or likely sourced from slave labor then I’m not buying. Yes, this means spending more and yes, this means planning more, but hey! one of my goals is to have all of my gifts by the end of November and that means I’m already on it!
The idea for this realignment came from a book I read in college, Everyday Justice by Julie Clawson. In it she states, “Justice, at its very core, deals with relationships – our relationships to God, to each other and to the world […] Whether we intent to or not, our everyday actions hurt others and damage those relationships. Through anger and malice, self-centeredness and greed, we deny the image of God in others […] using them as objects that can be exploited for personal gain […] or simply ignore them.” (Clawson 20)
The time for silence is over. I will not be silent this year. I will use my voice and my dollar to fight for justice and freedom.
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Eli Wiesel