Writer Nicholas Kristof shed light on the problems of modern slavery and human trafficking in a recent New York Times commentary, “A woman. A prostitute. A slave.” He writes, “No one has a clear idea of the scale of the problem… [but] it’s hugely profitable and carries less risk than selling drugs or stealing cars.” By some estimates, the sale of human beings will outpace even drug trafficking, to become one of the largest criminal enterprises on earth.
Human trafficking is a modern twist on an ancient problem. History provides many examples of people who have been taken against their will and forced into servitude. Populations have been forced into slavery by invading armies, and cruel treatment has been perpetrated under the mistaken concept that one individual can legitimately own another.
It may seem there is little we can do about this issue. But the study of Christian Science uniquely prepares us to engage with tough problems from a metaphysical basis. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy encouraged us to stand against error in all its forms. She made this instructive statement about the apparent conflict between good and error: “During this final conflict, wicked minds will endeavor to find means by which to accomplish more evil; but those who discern Christian Science will hold crime in check. They will aid in the ejection of error. They will maintain law and order, and cheerfully await the certainty of ultimate perfection” (pp. 96-97).
We can confront the issue of human trafficking squarely and metaphysically, through an engaged, fearless mental protest–by confidently realizing the spiritual truth of man’s inherent, unassailable freedom. The Bible clearly says, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine” (Ezek. 18:4).
Prayerful opposition to criminal exploitation is strengthened by the understanding that God is always present and that He is constantly speaking to each of us, providing just the right ideas to keep us safe–or return us to safety. Prayer reveals that man’s true nature is always to help, never to hurt, and never to attempt to profit at someone else’s expense.
So don’t look away. As repellent as this crime is, it deserves our best thinking. It needs the benefit of the Christ-idea, the focus of pure reality, the light of Truth illuminating darkness. Right where these captives are, right now, every one of them can feel the touch of the Christ. Intelligent, principled thinking can reach these victims of slavery – those around the world and those in our own cities – with the Comforter, the Christ speaking to the human consciousness. Mrs. Eddy wrote, “The ‘still, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound. The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind,’as when a lion roareth.’ It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear” (p. 559). The prophet Isaiah assures us, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:”
We can also pray for those who are engaged in perpetrating these crimes, by metaphysically separating the error from those involved. There is no legitimacy in entrapment, coercion, or false imprisonment, and no principle in greed or any other mistaken motive. Man, created in God’s image, is himself innocent, and does not harm or exploit his brothers, sisters, or children. There is no real intelligence behind such a plan, no Principle to support it, no demand for it, and no resources to carry it out.
This approach leaves every individual free to reflect God, and leaves error without agency, representative, or advocate.
Mary Baker Eddy was attuned to silent suffering around the world and knew prayer could play a role in alleviating this suffering — including among people she would never meet. She wrote, “From the interior of Africa to the utmost parts of the earth, the sick and the heavenly homesick or hungry hearts are calling on me for help, and I am helping them” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 147). Just so, each of us can enter our mental protest against slavery today, even if the problem feels far removed from our experience.
Our prayers can play an important part in the process of gradually eliminating and cleansing from human experience the entire activity of slavery and human trafficking. Prayer can bring public attention to the issue and support improved laws and increased enforcement. It can focus metaphysical light on an incorrect activity, and help that activity to be seen rightly, as having no legitimacy and no profit.
When this is understood, people will see themselves not as predators, but as they rightfully are: friends to all.
Article originally appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel, January 31, 2011.
Republished with permission of The Christian Science Publishing Society.