Sunday, March 02, 2014

Let's End It. Now.

So, as usual, we (my various friends and I) are doing our FB critiques of Oscar Night. I became involved with a conversation about the movie "12 Years a Slave" and one friend stated that she doesn't believe she can watch it, that the trailer makes her lose it. I concur. I don't believe I will be able to view it either. I would be completely verklempt.

It baffles me to think that at one time in our history, we somehow justified keeping another human being as property, that somehow we "owned" this person in every sense -- we could tell him or her what to do, where to work, whom they could marry, we owned their children and spouses, and because they were property, the master could pretty much take the wife for his own pleasure and the slave-husband could do nothing about it, at least not if he wished to live, and his children to live.

They made it illegal, but they found a way to still oppress the former slaves, even until a few short years before my birth and some legislation made it finally illegal to deny them basic human rights. Oh, it's still happening, but far less often.

But make no mistake: slavery still exists. We just no longer call it "slavery" .... we call it other things:

"Well, she chose to runaway from home. She chose to live on the streets and sell her body. It's what she gets." -- Never mind that the nice older man who gave her a place to stay also brutally raped her when he got her to that "safe" place, and then passed her around to his friends, who did the same. Never mind that he also forced her to sell herself on the streets and bring him EVERY last dime she gets for all the tricks she turns. Never mind that he reinforces her broken state by telling her she's damaged goods, that her parents will never want her back, not after all the things she's done. It's all her choice, so it isn't really slavery. She can choose to leave...... can't she? You were 15 once, what do you think? #SlaveryByAnotherName

"He can put down the bottle any time he wants...." There are some people for whom there is no functional off-switch. Where you or I may be able to cut it off after 2 drinks, or even over-indulge but it be a random thing, once every few years, an addict cannot. They hear in alcohol or drugs .... or any other substance or action: food, self-harm, etc. .... a siren call. It feeds a place in their brain which cannot get a chemical reaction any other way. But here I speak specifically of substance abuse in terms of alcohol and drugs. Only in the substance can their brain find satisfaction. But sure, they can drop it anytime. So what that they've moved from one drink after work to a fifth of whisky a day .... and now to a little something heavier because the liquor isn't cutting it anymore. It's leaving them looking haggard and worn but a buddy has said that the club drugs won't .... or there's always crystal meth. Easy and quick to cook, right? And hell, if hillbillies in the mountains can make it, surely to God you can, right? And you're hooked, instantly. But you can give it up any time. Your buddy who's hooked can quit any time he wants. Nothing to it....... #SlaveryByAnotherName

And these are just two examples of how slavery still exists. It has never ended. For the latter one, there are programs and centers and help and hope and sponsors and all manner of ways to try to break those chains. We're not doing much about the former one. We've long recognized that drug addiction is a medical crisis and mental health issue, but we're still treating sex trafficking as a choice.

But tell that to an 8-year-old girl in Thailand whose parents have sold her to a pimp to pay off their debts. Or more often, one who has smooth-talked them into believing that he is with a charity organization that will send her to Hong Kong or America for schooling and a better life. And I'll even give you $100 dollars (or their equivalent) in return for trusting me with your child....... And then once he has the child, he tells her that she must work to pay off the loan to her parents, and here's what she'll do. Did you know there are tours that cater to this sort of thing? Sickens me to no end at all to think there are people who arrange for grown men (and maybe women, although I cannot imagine) who travel out of country to have sex with foreign children because this way, they can act out some weird fantasy and not get caught, not be subject to the laws of their country. Where in the world does this ...... I can't even begin to form words to discuss it. I cannot wrap my brain around such an idea at all. To treat a child in such .... there aren't any words that can adequately convey the level of disgust. I will leave it there.

Luckily there is an organization -- several, really -- working to end slavery in all its forms. It's known as END IT and I encourage you to visit. This past week marked "End It Day" (on 2/27), but honestly, every day ought to be End It Day. Learn more about slavery that still exists -- sex trafficking, child labor, etc.

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