Recognizing the Humanity of Traffickers
by Sister Maryann Mueller, CSSF
Several months ago on a retreat with other social justice coordinators I participated in an exercise that had a profound impact on me. We were asked to find a partner we did not know and then sit facing each other, holding each other’s hands. We were asked to first look into the person’s eyes and then look down at their hands. We sat this way for about 10 minutes while a mantra “I love you” played quietly. As I gazed at my partner’s hands I began to “see” hands of people in countries throughout the world, people I did not know, hands of all different shapes, sizes and skin tones. With each I thought to myself “I love you.” After several minutes my thoughts flowed to the hands of those who traffic other human beings for profit. In my mind these hands also took on different shapes and hues. I remember hesitating, but knew that I was called to say “I love you” to each of these people also. My thoughts then moved to some specific people in the news, to their hands, and to each I said, “I love you.”
I have thought of this experience many times in the past several months, especially while listening to the news, or hearing stories of human trafficking. Probably one of the most humanly impossible things to do is to love those who do evil acts against other human beings. Yet, as Christians we believe that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. We are all vulnerable creatures and although we may act in a way that is hateful and evil, we are all called to love each other as a human being made in God’s image.
I do not know the long term effects that this retreat experience will have on my life, but each morning I do pray for transformation of the hearts of traffickers, of ICE officers, of terrorists and for all who are deliberately planning to hurt other human beings.
Tags: Empathy, Hands, Reflection, Retreat