no child left behind

What are we celebrating today? Well, it is National French Fried Shrimp Day. I assume this was begun by rabid fans of Forrest Gump. For those of you who wish to celebrate, I have two words–Trader Joes. They have fabulous tempura shrimp in the freezer section. Go there, and have a wonderful celebration.

Today is also the celebration of the passage of the 13th amendment freeing the slaves in the United States. This celebration is a tad more serious. Looking back on our history of slavery is interesting, painful, and, one hopes, informative. I did a mountain of research years ago while writing my first novel, and it was very, very difficult to read some of the first had accounts I found.

I thought that perhaps the best use of today’s celebration, however, is not to look back but to gauge where we are now and what we can do to move forward. And in finding out what that means, I found more disturbing illumination.

-Over 2 million children are trafficked annually (lured from their homes and sold).
-Human trafficking is a $34 billion industry, the 2nd largest criminal activity in the world and growing!!! It’s estimated to take first place in 2010.
-An estimated 45,000 men, women & children are brought to the US by traffickers from around the world annually.
– At least 100,000 children are used in prostitution every year in the United States. That is the lowest estimate.
-The average age of entry into prostitution is 11 years old. The average prostitute is 14.
– America is the #1 destination for Child Trafficking in the world.

Here in the Midwest, America’s wholesome heartland, I have read the stories or heard the rumors of humans beings being held in homes, restaurants, or farms. Slavery is not dead here, despite any amendment or proclamation. It is flourishing beyond belief in other parts of the world. It is difficult to celebrate, knowing all this.

But what do we do? First, learn. Investigate Watch the videos. Find and support a group of your choice that is on the front lines fighting the destruction, in any way, of humans beings made in God’s image. Every one of them is one he cries over.

While helping coach my daughter’s Battle of the Books team this fall, we read Day of Tears by Julius Lester, a novel about a young black girl before the Civil War. One of the things this girl tells her granddaughter later sums up what we need to remember: “If your heart hurts when you see somebody suffering, you have a good heart.” I would add, whatever you do for the least of his people, you do for Him. Remember that, as we move into the celebration of His coming to this torn apart, messed up, yet still crazily beautiful, world.

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