2018, November ReflectionOctober 31, 2018
Take Off Your Shoes. Get Your Feet Wet.
Anne Victory, HM
My favorite place for reflection is the beach. Every year I look forward to the annual trek with friends to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for vacation. The experience never fails to inspire and refresh me, and this year was no exception. We friends each have our rituals at the beach, and mine is taking walks along the shore at sunrise, coffee in hand, welcoming the new day and marveling at the constancy of God’s love and presence as the waves cascade onto the shore. I never fail to be amazed by the grandeur and diversity of the creatures who share the sand with me as I walk—tiny shore birds who scavenge right along the incoming waves and never fail to escape just in time, the surf fishers who patiently and persistently try day after day to catch their breakfast, the beachcombers searching for treasure in the sands, the dolphins who may make an appearance to entertain me with their antics.
I tend to be a “safe” walker, keeping my shoes on in order to stay balanced so as not to risk toppling into the sea. I am usually adept at avoiding the incoming waves in the nick of time—but not today! As I pondered the peace and beauty all around me in an otherwise turbulent world, a wave caught me from behind and swamped my shoes—the only ones I brought with me! After a moment of distress, I heard a new message—“Take off your shoes. Get your feet wet!” So I did. I allowed my feet to experience more closely the feel of sand and water, dodging the tiny stones and sharp shards of broken shells as I relished the coolness of the ocean and the softness of the sand.
Overcoming my initial hesitation and accepting the challenge to do so, I wondered how else I and we being asked to “get our feet wet” in the quest for a world in which slavery will no longer exist? What more can I and we be doing to confront the evil of human trafficking? Granted, the issue seems too daunting, too huge to imagine making much progress, but that is no excuse for not taking off our shoes and risking the waves. There are many options, and luckily, there are many others with whom to share the load as together we tackle the challenge of weaving a safety net for generations to come.
So here are some ways I am trying; you may think of many more:
- Introducing more creative ways to raise awareness of the reality of human trafficking and the urgent need to confront it;
- Taking care to use images and words carefully in relation to human trafficking – physical ropes and chains and tape across the mouth are generally NOT what is seen;
- Finding new partners in my local/regional community who share a vision of a world without slavery and working together to weave a more effective safety net for the immediate and long term needs of victims and survivors;
- Raising awareness among providers of health care and social services of the reality of the crime, the fact that they may be treating victims of those vulnerable to the crime, and the need to provide care in a trauma-informed manner;
- Advocating for collaboration in this critical issue—no one and no group can do this work alone;
- Listening more closely to the wisdom of survivors to increase my understanding of how this crime affects the depths and resiliency of their human spirits;
- Empowering survivors with the support they need to fulfill their potential as members of God’s human family;
- Advising those who want to “do something” to mentor vulnerable children and young adults who need positive role models in their lives;
- Praying for victims and survivors of the crime and for a change of heart on the part of the traffickers and buyers;
- Taking the challenge of the “Slavery Footprint” to heart as I recognize my complicity in the crime of human;
- Making choices to become a more conscientious consumer of products and services that have no slave labor in their supply chains;
- Advocating for changes in laws and enforcement of current laws that more effectively address the immense injustice that so many are facing silently and unnoticed.
Survivors are depending on us to “get our feet wet” in the waves of their human need and to overcome our discomfort and fear of being too weak to find our footing as we walk these sands with our brothers and sisters in need. Let’s take off our shoes and wade in! Together we can make a difference!