Ending Modern-Day Slavery Through The Market Place
As you may remember from yesterday, Let My People Go’s mission is to mobilize the church to fight human trafficking by loving those most vulnerable.
However, the “love of our neighbor” can be difficult to maintain in a consumer economy, such as ours. A consumer economy is one driven by consumption as a percentage of its GDP or gross domestic product. Economists estimate that 70% of the US economy is based on consumption. This amount of money spent on goods reflects two things: Supply and Demand. This plays out as competitive markets drive companies to seek the cheapest source materials with which to create their product to meet the overwhelming demand that we create. More often than not, the supply chains of even the most reputable companies are tainted by slavery. In other words, If we aren’t paying the highest price for our goods, then someone else is.
The reason that the International Labor Organization estimates that at any given time, 40.3 million people are in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriage, is because each of us has played a vital role in creating an economic demand for it. yes, you read that correctly. We can not become part of the solution, until we realize that we are part of the problem. The way that we consume resources creates a demand for labor trafficking. With that in mind, in your small groups read the following article. Click here to see how our daily consumption patterns affect the world.
God addresses consumption throughout the Bible. This is referred to as biblical stewardship. Many of us have been taught that we must be good “stewards” of God’s resources. However, more often than not, the practical result of this teaching looks more like secular consumerism than anything else. For example, many will consider themselves good stewards, if they spend less for their purchases. However, as you are realizing this often leads to exploitation. So, let us not mistake thriftiness for Godliness.
God’s goal for our stewardship is for us to consume goods in such a way that we are a blessing to the neighbor that we see as well as our neighbor that we don’t see; the unseen neighbor, who is exploited to make the products which we crave. In others words, how can we spend our resources in such a way that we serve the “widow, orphan, and sojourner,” rather than exploiting them? Our consumption patterns should lead to freedom and flourishing, not to oppression.
Ergo, the problem of global slavery originates with… us. Whether it is through our consumption of food, clothing, or pornography, our actions create a demand for exploitation. In our daily lives, are we purchasing freedom or are we consuming suffering?
Questions for small group discussion:
How are we responsible for creating the demand for human trafficking?
How many slaves work for you? How could YOU reduce your slavery footprint?
What are some fair-trade, direct trade or survivor made products that you can purchase on a regular basis?
What does the way that we spend “our treasure” say about our hearts?
In a panel discussion, Justin Dillon, Founder of Made in a Free World, explained that “you can argue morality with those making money from labor exploitation, but it’s not until you impact their money that you will see change.” This principle coupled with tenacious advocacy is how William Wilberforce and other abolitionists eventually brought the Trans-Atlantic slave trade to an end. When we begin to forgo consumption that creates demand and rather choose to buy ethically sourced goods, we find ourselves actively fighting human trafficking.
Today, you will engage human trafficking at the demand level. Each group will go to multiple areas that create a demand in NYC: Penn Station, Grand Central Station, Port Authority, and Times Square.
- As you walk around these areas, know that you are walking among those that could be exploited and those who may be exploiters.
- Look for opportunities to share a nutrigrain bar with those in need. Listen to their story as you eat with them. Aim to spend 30-45 minutes listening to their story as you eat with them. The goal of this is communion over charity.
Challenge 1 — Check your slavery footprint!
Challenge 2 — The Big Question: Are your products fair trade or slave free?
Challenge 3 — Whoever buys the most products untainted by slavery wins a prize!
Read this article on how we create a demand for sex trafficking.