Since I last posted, I have made my way to Durban, Fish Hoek, and across the Somerset mountains to the small coastal town of Hermanus. I thought residing in Cape Town had given me a sufficient amount of appreciation for the beauty of this land, but exploring the Indian ocean coastline, traveling through South Africa’s mountain towns and vineyards, and seeing the water color change from the West side of the country to the East has left me dumbfounded. What a majestic place this is!
No matter where I go, though, I have been forever “tainted” with eyes that look out for the rampant exploitation of vulnerability that pervades societies all across the world. What I have found is that it truly does not matter the economic, political, or social state of the region- exploitation of people in their weakness is everywhere. It takes on many forms here in South Africa- domestic workers making just enough to pay for transportation to their work site, refugees prostituting themselves on street corners, laborers packed in the back of trucks owned by someone they are forcefully indebted to.
To my friends in the U.S- I hope that you are awake to the forms exploitation takes around you. Look in nail salons, in fields, truck stops, and cleaning services. Don’t stop there. The person before you is just that– a person, just like you. Introduce yourself and then look behind their eyes. What position have they been put in that would compel them to settle into exploitation whether by force or by choice? Are they in your country illegally? Can they speak your language? Could they have a background of poverty, addiction, or abuse? Ask questions.
And then search for answers. Whether in the moment or in the days that follow, explore answers for this injustice. I am not naïve to the fact that trafficking is a complex issue full of many anomalies. But I have to believe that there is an answer. I am still learning, but I am beginning to be convinced that the only real way to change the course of history in regards to human trafficking will come when people know who they are and know the value of those around them. Where vulnerability is not fed on, but where the vulnerable are fed, and educated, and loved. I propose that when the vulnerable have experienced this response to injustice, they will actually join in responding to the cries of others in their shoes. Instead of perpetuating the cycles of poverty, abuse, etc. they will join the cycles of aiding, supporting, educating, and loving the world to unprecedented levels of human development.
As I said, I’m still learning. But I am beginning to think this approach just might work…
While I plan to continue in my explorations of this beautiful landscape over the next few months, I am equally committed to exploring the answers to exploitation. I want to ask questions, I want to keep my eyes open, and I want to put love in humanity to the test as the answer to injustice.