February, 2020 Monthly Reflection

Dignity: A Grasp For The Enslaved

By Margaret Nacke, CSJ

The largest single sale of enslaved persons in U.S. History, the Great Slave Auction called the Weeping Time, was held in 1859 at the now-defunct Ten Broeck racetrack in Savannah, Georgia. Men, women, children, and infants were sold in the course of two days bringing an estimated $300,000 or 9 million dollars in today’s currency. Alarming though this may seem in the 21st century, today’s technological sophistication allows one to engage in similar auctions on a global scale. The internet is one of the greatest auction blocks, allowing for no borders to impede and broaden accessibility to saleable “human products.” Newborns are no exception as birth mothers, made vulnerable by poverty with nowhere to turn, sell themselves and their children. No country is immune to this assault on the dignity of persons that tears the social fabric of societies. Slavery has never died but continues its attempt to obliterate the dignity of persons.

The words of Pope Francis, “Human trafficking is a crime against humanity because it denies human dignity of the victim” and calling it a “wound in the humanity of those who endure it and those who commit it,” may fall on fallow ears overpowered by greed and pleasure.

Project IRENE (Illinois Religious Engaging in Nonviolent Endeavors), along with many other groups, are engaged in making a difference, counteracting forces contrary to personal dignity. A recent banner of this group reads “Building dignity and respect for the work that makes all other works possible.” This statement puts into perspective the criticalness of efforts to make a difference in lives, regardless of country, age, culture, religion, economic status, uplifting them to their rightful freedom and dignity.

When we are motivated by hope, each one of us can make that difference. In the Gospel according to Luke (12:18-21) Jesus said: “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.” Each of us can be leaven for one another. From Christ we learn to be signs of hope, to give life to those in need whenever and whenever the encounter.