It's no secret that we all live in times of dire violence and destruction. One need only turn on the evening news to hear atrocious stories of husbands murdering wives, children horrifically abused or neglected, riots in the streets of heavily urbanized areas, and other unfortunate tragedies. It is remarkably easy to allow ourselves to become desensitized to these violent acts; indeed, what seemed horrific ten years ago might seem so very quaint today. Where does all of this come from? How have we, as a people, become so cavalier, so devastatingly accepting of evil acts and deeds perpetrated by our fellow man? Where does all of this end?
When do we finally say, enough is enough is enough?
We teach our children by our silence. Through our lack of outrage, our kids become passively indoctrinated to look the other way and simply be grateful that nothing has happened to them. We've turned our backs on one another, in large part, and our world is shrinking as we lose the ability to feel warmth and love and empathy for our neighbors. What about those other children, though? What about those children on the news that are so 'politely' tucked away into the corners of our minds? Are they not valuable human beings, too?
Unfortunately, because it is so terrifying and horrific, many are willing to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the shocking issue of human trafficking, even when those humans are small, innocent children. Many have adopted the 'better them than me' attitude and ignore the sums and figures, but today, we're dealing with facts, not fantasies. We're dealing with the millions of individuals, children of all ages, sizes, genders, races, and backgrounds, sold into slavery, sometimes for labor, sometimes for sex, sometimes for other unspeakable practices, who are forgotten every single year. This is the real news, not the latest celebrity antics. The children and adults sold and trafficked every day are valuable for their status as living beings, period, not for the dollar sign attached to their torment.
Of course, we're desperate to turn a blind eye to the suffering of our most faithful companions. This cognitive dissonance has led to the suffering of incalculable animals all across the globe, and the figure rises to frightening totals with each day that passes. We speak not only of the detestable practices of animal testing, vivisection, and the rampant crimes constantly excused in the meat industry, but the things happening in backyards everywhere -- right now.
Look down at the foot of your bed or at the other end of your couch. Look at the windowsill, or anywhere else your beloved cat or dog might be lazily snoozing or licking their paw. Could you imagine refusing them a pet or snuggle when they rub up against your leg or climb into your lap? Could you imagine not filling up the water bowl with fresh, clean water several times a day, or scooping out a heaping portion of food, or making sure your pet has a warm place to sleep at night? Probably not. Could you wrap your head around ever striking your animal? The answer, hopefully, is of course not. This is the sickening reality for an outrageous amount of cats, dogs, and other animals. The injustice could bring the strongest to their knees in sorrow, for what could be more sad than bringing pain to a creature that only wants to love and be loved in return?
It is time that we all stop turning a blind eye to the issues of human trafficking and animal abuse. Part of the reason we have become so violent against one another is because we have institutionalized violence against the innocent and helpless. We are, if nothing else, stewards of the animals and guardians of the children, both relying on us, in their own way, for food, comfort, shelter, etc. When that role is perverted into something different, there is suffering, period. We can no longer stand idly by while the helpless are traded like currency. We can no longer simply ignore the silent cries of the innocent and go about our daily lives as though their pain and hunger do not exist. Quite the contrary, they do exist, and it is our responsibility to help.
We urge you now to take action like never before. The fate of millions rests in our collective hands, and we have the power to make significant change. The first step for many is to merely acknowledge. Acknowledge that girls go missing from their homes at night, kidnapped and transported across borders to serve as cheap labor. Acknowledge that it isn't okay to ignore the sad animal abuse ads on television simply because they are sad, because that is the point of those advertisements. You shouldn't simply change the channel to the latest sitcom and numb yourself to reality, and that isn't something that responsible citizens of this world do. It's there. It's real. And it's not going away just because cable offers numerous ways for you to occupy your mind otherwise.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that injustice everywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. It's time to stop these injustices before they spread even further or are used to justify suffering of even more groups. Get concerned. Get active. Spread the word.
Shenita has published works on various media platforms.