A Participants Perspective of #VAAC2014

I read them in a novel, but the words were meant for me. “In a broader sense, your apathy made it possible.” With that statement, Grigoleit  laid the responsibility of Hitler’s war at Hergesell’s feet. Both recognized the hyperbole in the accusation. Hitler was responsible for his war. But there was also truth.

I took the words to heart. They come from the mouth of Hans Fellada’s character in Every Man Dies Alone. In context, they apply to his friend who stopped participating in workplace sabotage as a means of resisting the Nazis. I apply them to myself and the temptation of being too tired, too stressed or too busy to do my part in stopping the machine of human trafficking that is snuffing out lives and shredding human dignity.

The words, and the overriding theme of the book–individual responsibility to do something to stop evil–reminded me of what I took away from Virginia Abolition Conference–a sense that I am called to fight against global slavery that takes place even in Virginia.

Human trafficking can seem unbeatable and unstoppable. The conference, with its speakers and workshops, provided an anatomy lesson of the machine and its parts and how to sabotage their function. I attended the workshop on lobbying and learned nuts and bolts about persuading state and federal officials to write and support anti-trafficking legislation. I also sat in on the Prevention Project overview and learned how this school-based curriculum is keeping kids from being sucked into passivity and vulnerability to trafficking. I learned about how the Richmond based Gray Haven Project is providing shelter and recovery resources for victims of trafficking.

Henrico Police Chief Douglas Middleton asked for our eyes and ears to help catch the bad guys and rescue victims by paying attention and calling the police if we suspect labor or sex trafficking. Journalist and author Holly Austin Smith, in her soft voice, told how she was fooled by a pimp as an underage teen. She has written a book about her experience. How can I be apathetic?

An even more compelling reason to resist apathy is because fighting against human trafficking is our responsibility before God to each other.  Friday night’s worship and prayer reminded me that God wants us to oppose human trafficking in His name. This crime is so anti-God because of the way He created us–with a free will.

Like Hergesell making excuses for opting out of the resistance, I could  say that my decent, law abiding life is the way I oppose human trafficking. “My happiness doesn’t cost anyone else a thing,” he says. To which, Grigoleit responds, “But it does…as long as you tolerate thousands being shot every day and don’t lift a finger to stop the killing…”

There are billions enslaved globally, some as close as Virginia. If I don’t lift a finger to stop it, whose side am I on?

by: Kathy Lewis, a journalist and participant in #VAAC2014