Friday, July 4, 2014

Fourth of July: Seeking Independence for All



The Fourth of July generates immediate thoughts of family, food, fun, fireworks, and picnics. 

But it is important to ponder the purpose for the holiday as professed in the Declaration of Independence (1776):
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation” (para. 1).

The Declaration of Independence goes on to recognize the equality of men even though slavery existed throughout the colonies:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness” (para. 2).

The wording of the Declaration of Independence was an improvement over the Magna Carter of 1297, which professed protection of the rights of free people only. 

While America has made great strides toward equality, skimming through any national newspaper will remind us that free people in America are still struggling for equality. Moreover, it is important to apprehend that in 2014, thousands of people all over the world are not free. And human trafficking is a major cause. The United Nations defines human trafficking “as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs” (p. 42).

The U.S. Department of State has established 20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking, some of which I summarized below:

  • Learn about the signs of human trafficking, such as physical abuse, fear, and inappropriate living conditions.
  • Report suspected human trafficking to the Department of Homeland Security at 1-866-347-2423.
  • Refuse to buy goods produced by child or slave labor. But you must learn about your own slavery footprint.
  • Distribute anti-human trafficking information (including via school curricula and clubs).
  • Volunteer and/or donate to reputable anti-trafficking organizations.
  • Ask your representatives what they are doing to combat human trafficking.
  • Establish your own anti-trafficking task force.
  • Support victims of human trafficking: offer free or discounted services, hire them, and purchase Made by Survivors products.

It is imperative that we work to help people achieve their rights endowed by their Creator--"certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" (para. 2).

How has gaining independence affected your life? This is the story in you. Share it.

Domonique


References

Declaration of Independence. (1776). Retrieved from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html


United Nations. (2004). United Nations convention against transnational organized crime and the protocols thereto. Retrieved from http://www.unodc.org/documents/treaties/UNTOC/Publications/TOC%20Convention/TOCebook-e.pdf

U.S. Department of State. (n.d.). 20 ways you can help fight human trafficking. Retrieved from http://www.state.gov/j/tip/id/help/

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