My heart is broken this Fourth of July. Across the country, multitudes celebrate freedom while others remain bound by the chains of modern-day slavery. In a nation that espouses the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, this should not be. How can we claim to be a free country when thousands are trafficked on our very soil? How can we set ourselves as the model of freedom when our nation is among the top perpetrators of global human trafficking?
Our soldiers boldly sacrifice to defend our freedom, traveling thousands of miles to foreign lands to ensure our safety and security. Where are those who will rise up on behalf of the oppressed within our own country? Where are the warriors who will fight to free those captive to the injustices of human trafficking?
The war that must be waged on behalf of those enslaved cannot be won with weapons and bloodshed. It deals with minds that need to be transformed, hearts that need to be reformed. Until we change our attitudes of ignorance, apathy and indulgence the tangled web of modern trafficking will ensnare our nation, choking our life and stealing our future.
Freedom is not freedom if it comes at the expense of another’s liberty. As long as humans are bought and sold as commodities in a marketplace, we cannot continue to claim we are free. If the exercise of freedom requires the bondage of another, it is not truly freedom. As Emma Lazarus once said, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” Until human slavery is abolished in every form, we are all captive.
In his now famous Fourth of July speech, Frederick Douglass declared, “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is a constant victim.” Though these words were spoken in the 1800s, they’re just as true today when we consider the gross injustice of modern slavery.