by Sister Margaret Nacke, CSJ
January is National Human Trafficking Awareness month. Although January is the beginning of a New Year, the topic of human trafficking is not new nor will it offer millions of women, men, and children across the globe, including the United States, an opportunity for a new lease on life. The month ensures visibility on the issue of trafficking but January 31st cannot be the end of reminding the public that the slavery of people is intolerable in any society that calls itself human. In some parts of the world, January is a month that is dark and cold, an apt parallel to the millions whose lives have been relegated to commodity status, to slavery, and live in a world darkened by the selfishness and greed of those whose own lives are without light.
Who are these slaves who live in the shadow of death, whose dignity is abused and ignored and whose lives are given in obedience to money makers and evil doers? They are children who will never see the inside of a classroom because they work like “little adults” day in and day out, harvesting the cocoa for chocolate they will never taste. They are young men who cannot dream of a better life because every moment is governed by the number of fish they catch in waters far away from their homelands. They are older men who work in the depths of the earth, mining coal that will warm the homes they will never visit. These slaves are women who will never stand in their own kitchens and prepare meals for their children because they are in servitude in other kitchens to masters or mistresses whose consciences do not allow an opening for the light of human respect.
St. Francis of Assisi says that “all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a small candle.” It may not be a candle, but each of us has the power to illuminate the paths of those whose lives we touch or even never will touch. Each of us is called to be a bearer of light. The prayers we offer can be that light. Prayer is without boundaries. It can reach across genders, cultures, countries and even into the lives of the most desperate. Prayer offers life-support and the difference we make through prayer can make all the difference.
Remembering those who live in darkness – the trafficked as well as the traffickers and buyers of the slave trade – we pray the words of the song: Christ be our Light, shine in our hearts, shine in the darkness.
Sister Margaret Nacke, CSJ, is the founder of the Bakhita Initiative and a Founding Member of U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking.