Friday, February 8, 2013

End It Movement

End It Movement
A Generation's Response to the 27,000,000 Modern Day Slaves

Stunning. Mortifying. Unbelievable. The cold and clear reality that there are more slaves today than there were during the entire African Slave Trade sends goosebumps down my neck. I remember the first time I heard this statistic. I was in the slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil for a few days serving and caring for the marginalized and hopeless, the 1 in 11,000,000 who needed to know that someone cared about them on a personal level and had their best interest in mind. While my team and I prepared to leave for this trip, a movement was stirring. A generation was being awakened to the reality that, on their watch, 27 million men, women, and precious children were voiceless and helpless and they were doing nothing about it. Tens of thousands filled the Georgia Dome for what is likely to be one of the most somber and speechless crowds ever to gather in that place. And in light of the freedom that this very gathering was designed to celebrate, the horrors of slavery bounced off the page to each free body sitting in those stadium seats. This generation could no longer say they didn't know. This generation could never again say it wasn't them. This generation had to respond. And this generation was me.

College Students. 44,000 poor, lazy, and reckless college students. What could they do? The question lurked then and still lurks now in the minds of the millions of eyes that watched online, the thousands that came face to face with it in the Georgia Dome, and in mine. Several million dollars later a generation emptied out what little they could give individually and were a force for good corporately. They stood up for three powerful days to declare that 27 million slaves was not okay on their watch - on our watch.

In the hurry of preparing for the trip to Brazil I didn't really grasp what was going on at the Passion Conference and in the Georgia Dome. Time went by and before I knew it I was bouncing all over Brazil loving on people and encouraging those who devoted their lives to making sure the people where we went knew the hope that was offered to them and the truth. As I went, some of my teammates began to talk about the 27 million slaves worldwide and the efforts of Passion to bring this to light. My heart, however, was already full of people and causes I was coming across every day in Brazil, and to me 27 million was just a number. It was not until I returned that I began to process this unbelievable truth. I began to see the stories of these slaves, to see their weary faces and their hopeless eyes, and I began to realize just how undeniably wrong it all was!

Nearly a year later the End It Movement was announced at the Georgia Dome to what was now over 60,000 equally poor and reckless but also bold and visionary 18 to 24 year-olds. A full page in USA Today and coverage from CNN were just a few of the signs our generation was going to be heard, and that we not only see the problem, but we refuse to tell our grandchildren in 50 years that we stood by and watched when they ask "where were you when this outrageous human rights violation was happening?" We're the firstfruits of a generation that says no to slavery. And we're in it to end it.

When reading the Learn section and browsing through, it is clear that 27,000,000 is a big number. And while one would hope that people would stand behind a movement like this for just one single person, one cannot help but to come face to face with the reality that the number is what catches our attention. But while this number is what motivates many to join the cause, I find when reading this that it is also what stops us from acting on it. And while we have all the technology the world could need to transport slaves to safety or identify slave drivers or even to do the jobs that many of them are slaves for, the reality is that few to none of the 60,000 students who walked out of the Georgia Dome one short month ago have actually done anything since. Sure, our generation puts up Facebook statuses, we post pictures, tweet it, or maybe even share the link with a friend. But this generation - our generation - never learned how to stand.  

So when the discussion arises about how to materialize our passion and our desire to see the 27 million freed, it quickly becomes a question of what can be done from your chair, what can happen without interrupting lives too much, and how 60,000 students could ever end slavery. It's said that, if the lips of the people everywhere were speaking out against slavery, it would be eradicated in a heartbeat, but before a mouth speaks a mind must think, and before a mind thinks an eye must see or an ear hear this enormous human rights violation. If our generation is to go down in history as the one that ended slavery, we must first show it and speak about it. And we must come to the undeniable and pervasive conclusion that it is wrong and must be stopped by people like me.

For now, however, the reality is that there are 27,000,000 people who do not have their freedom. For now we can only raise money and raise a voice. For now we can only hope for a better tomorrow for those men, women, and precious children. And for now we can only make 60,000 into 60,001 and 60,002. For now.

 - Daniel Watts 

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