As a kid, I loved the fourth of July. It was one of my favorite days of the year. I have great memories of time with family, getting together with friends, picnics, home-run derbies, and of course fireworks. Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to Be an American” used to make me tear up, even as a kid. When we lived in Virginia, they used to play this song in the background as the fireworks went off. Before I go any further, let me be clear that I am grateful to live in the U.S., I am grateful for freedom, and I am grateful for those who have given their lives to help provide freedom.
The past few years, as the fourth of July has approached, the feeling I have experienced isn’t excitement but rather a sick feeling. That pit in the bottom of your stomach feeling. Do you know what I am talking about?
A thought I have been mulling over for the past several months time and time again is this: our “right” to the “American dream” should not create a hellish nightmare for someone else.
We are consumers, plain and simple. There are tons of statistics out there about our consumerism in the U.S. We want what we want, when we want it, at the cheapest possible cost to us. We often don’t know and don’t care where our products come from and at what cost it comes to those who produce it. I am guilty of this. You are guilty of this. We are guilty of this. Too often, when we enjoy our freedom, we rob someone else of theirs.
According to FreeTheSlaves.net (https://www.freetheslaves.net/SSLPage.aspx?pid=301) there are an estimated 27 million, yes, 27 million slaves in the world today. Their website says “[t]his means that there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history. Slavery has existed for thousands of years, but changes in the world’s economy and societies over the past 50 years have enabled a resurgence of slavery.” Yes, I know this statement needs to be qualified due to the population increase etc. But don’t try to qualify the statement or make justifications for it. Just let that stat sink in; an estimated 27 million slaves. Here is a sobering question; how many of those slaves work for you?
Slavery Footprint (http://slaveryfootprint.org/) is both a fascinating and heartbreaking website. I encourage you to check out the website. They have a survey that you can take to find out how many slaves work for you. I just finished taking the survey an an estimated 48 slaves work for me based on my consumer habits. I encourage you to take the survey and to read the stats along the way.
Then there is the whole problem of human trafficking. Women and children are the most exploited. The U.S. is one of the most guilty nations of this horrible, sick problem. I am not as knowledgeable on on this topic as I could be. If you don’t believe me, do some research. Do a google search on human trafficking and start reading. It’s heartbreaking.
So, what’s the point of all this blog post? I’m not entirely sure. All I know is I woke up at 5:30am with a pit in my stomach. I just don’t know if I can handle reading my facebook news feed today. I am grateful for the freedom we enjoy but at what cost has it come and does it continue to come? Does our freedom create slavery and hell for others? I’m just thinking about today, right now. I can’t even begin to fathom the rest of our messy history as a nation.
I want to change. I want to be about change. I want to help build a different kind of tomorrow. I want to be part of the solution and not contribute to the problem. Do you? Change begins with you. Change begins with me. Just pick one issue. Research it. Learn about it. Act one what you learn. Be the change. I love coffee and I am guessing you do as well. Research the injustice that is the coffee industry. Buy Fair Trade coffee. That is a simple one. Yes, it can be an inconvenience but it’s worth it. Just pick one issue like coffee or chocolate. Those are easy places to start. Check out the website http://www.betterworldshopper.com/ to help you begin this journey.
So, is this REALLY the land of the free? I don’t know, it’s a loaded question. Maybe we needed a better definition of freedom. Perhaps today and moving forward instead of focusing upon our own freedom, we cold focus on helping others find the freedom we are blessed to enjoy. May our lives and freedom not create hell for others.