January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States. Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. From January 1st through January 11th, we’ll be posting daily blogs -- staff reflections, inspirational quotes and more that reflect our passion to see child trafficking and exploitation ended. Our resolution is to protect and defend the vulnerable and to restore and empower survivors. Join us in 2013 as we continue onward towards abolition!
In college, I went to West Africa and visited British and Portuguese "castles" built along the coastline to hold slaves waiting to be packed on boats and shipped to the new world (my, now, home). What struck me most was realizing on the incredible amount of suffering that one enslaved person went through -- to be ripped from their community, marched through jungles in chains, held in a castle knee deep in excrement, packed on boats like cargo, and then placed on a block for sale into a life of dehumanizing labor. One Life. (Likely one year, even.) Not only did someone have to survive it physically, they had to survive it spiritually without ending their lives. I haven't looked at "slaves" (or their descendants) again ever since.
It was a crushing and humbling epiphany that "slaves" I had previously pitied were, in fact, unfathomably strong in spirit. The greek philosopher Epicurus said: “You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity."
I really do believe the more adversity someone has survived, the more wisdom and courage they have to offer. It is lucky for me the most courageous people in the world -- those surviving the greatest adversity and oppression -- often have room in their lives for me if I do what I can to serve them. So this is why I serve, this is what brought me to Love146 and the Abolition movement.
Working with those affected by great adversity, I receive the perspective, stamina, and courage that I desperately need in this life. I fight to end child trafficking and exploitation because while there is still suffering and evil in the world, I still need a community of courage. And, not by coincidence, it's those affected by suffering that should be the brave leaders in that community. I'm here because I've followed those leaders.
In the words on an aboriginal activist sister, "If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mind, then let us work together."
I'm here because we all need freedom. I need to be free from my own suffering. I need, especially, to be free from the ways that I am an oppressor myself. In partnering with the oppressed, I have access to courage and freedom. I'm not fighting for children in slavery -- we're fighting together for a free world.
Marilyn de Guehery is a designer, an artist and an abolitionists from a swamp in Florida. She has a degree from Flagler College where she studied Graphic Design and Religion. On a constant search for things of great value, Marilyn seeks to make what she finds beautiful, accessible and dignifying. Her favorite color is yellow.