In an op-ed piece released today, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder addresses the problem of human trafficking:
As we prepare our homes and more importantly our hearts for this Christmas season, it is custom to reflect on holiday seasons from years gone by. We think back on the magic of Christmastime as a child, and we fix our thoughts on the sights and sounds of the holiday season. One of the most moving parts of the Advent season is the singing of Christmas carols.
“Oh Holy Night” was written in 1847 by French composer Adolphe Adam, the words taken from a French poem. Eight years later, John Sullivan Dwight, an American minister, would translate the song into English.
As Dwight translated the chorus of “Oh Holy Night,” he penned what would have been a radical verse for that time. When the song was published in 1855, America was embroiled with rising tensions between northern and southern states over the issue of slavery. At the time, there were nearly 4,000,000 slaves on record in the United States.
A verse of that Christmas hymn would be a magnificent foreshadowing for millions held captive by slavery:
“Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.”
The literal French translation may be even more moving; “He sees a brother where there was once only a slave.”
Eight years later, in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln would order the freedom of all slaves in Confederate States. Two years later, nearly all slaves would be freed. In 1865, Congress outlawed the practice of slavery.
Today, we live in a world still marred by the blemishes of racism, bias and persecution. Nearly 150 years later, we still live in a society that is often blinded by the comfort of our freedoms. Right now, slavery persists in the form of human trafficking even here in America.
This is a problem that many are unaware of and, even worse, many are unmoved by. Although human trafficking may seem like an issue that is confined to Asia or Africa, it is estimated that over 15,000 people are trafficked into the United State for the purpose of slave labor – each year.
Last week the Kansas City Star reported that more alleged traffickers – 36 in the past three years – have been prosecuted in western Missouri than anywhere else in the nation. Two years ago, a Chinese woman was arrested in Columbia for alleged prostitution only to later be identified a victim of human trafficking.
As a nation – as a people – we have progressed from the days of indentured servants, only to find ourselves trapped in an oblivion while mankind is facing one of the greatest social injustices of all time.
This holiday season, may we reflect on the oppression many in this world still face today. Let us pray for the victims of human trafficking and their safety. Let us intercede, as advocates, for the families who have been ripped apart by this horrific crime. And may we hope the eyes of justice find the captors who so willing desecrate the freedoms of mankind.
While advocates, lawmakers and authorities do what must be done to raise awareness of this horrible crime and to seek out the offenders, it is my hope that the men, women and children held by the grasps of human trafficking find hope and peace this Christmas in the loving arms of their creator.
For more information on human trafficking, visit: www.polarisproject.org.