This year, I’m involved in a reading challenge that has definitely expanded my horizons. The list includes stepping outside our favorite genre to read old books and new, fiction or non-fiction, classics or otherwise. In other words, those of us dedicated to meeting the challenge are trying to read a book we might not have picked up unless trying to check off a requirement from this diverse reading list. It’s been interesting, reminding me of when I first joined my book club. In that case, we’ve each taken turns choosing books, and many titles have pleasantly surprised me, including ones I probably never would have thought of reading.
Recently, I’ve read a couple of books that discuss the very serious issue of human trafficking. We don’t often think of slavery in modern times, at least I haven’t, but two books I’ve picked up recently have opened my eyes to just how horrific this modern-day blight really is.
The first book I read was Sold, by Patricia McCormick. Although it’s a fictional account, the author did her research by going to Nepal to interview survivors of the sex slave trade. She also visited several brothels. Rather than taking an actual account of just one girl, she chose to compile the tragic stories and compose a riveting tale from the similarities in many accounts. It’s amazingly well told, considering its tough subject. Patricia McCormick is a survivor of sexual assault herself, so perhaps that deepened her conviction to write about this subject.
Right now I’m reading Half The Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The title refers to the saying that women may hold up half the sky but aren’t treated as equals in too many cultures. This book has a broader look into the slave trade. What the two books have in common so far is that women are oppressed in so many countries and the best way to help is through organizations that know what they’re doing. International Justice Missions, for example, is working throughout developing countries to help entire families escape oppression.
So what does any of this have to do with a starfish, you might ask? There is a story retold in Half the Sky that’s taken from an old compilation of stories by Loren Eiseley that goes something like this: Once there was an old man who lived near the sea. He got up early one morning to see that a huge storm had washed ashore countless starfish. In the distance, he happened to spot a boy hurrying along the shore, tossing the helpless little creatures back into the water. The old man asked him what he was doing, and the boy said they would all die once the sun got too high if he didn’t help. The old man cautioned that the boy’s efforts were hopeless. He couldn’t possibly make much of a difference when there were so many to be saved. The boy picked up another starfish and tossed it as far as he could, back into the ocean. Then he looked at the old man and said “It made a difference to that one!”
So, yes, it’s true we can’t save all of the victims of human traffickers, but perhaps we can make a difference in the life of just one.
As Ms. McCormick said in one interview about her book, if you read it and at the end are depressed and sad that this kind of thing is still happening, then she hasn’t done her job. Her job is done only when we’re moved to do something. Please consider supporting such a worthy organization as IJM (International Justice Mission) to fight modern day slavery, oppression and violence.
Perhaps God has already touched your heart on this topic, and today’s post is only a reminder.