"A Responsibility To History:” Amanda's Why
Lately, I have felt a passion welling up within me to make sure that my friends, my family and onlookers understand why it is that I fight and strive for the end of human trafficking. I can explain to them that every person is created equal - that the men, women and children held in bondage by modern day slavery are real people, not statistics, with dignity, value and worth. I can teach and discuss the ethical ramifications of slavery. I can paint a picture of the cruelty and degradation that exists in our world today, but I have discovered that this is not enough. In recent days I have finally been able to articulate that this is not the whole of why I am a vocal advocate against slavery.
I am an advocate because I grew up reading and learning about men and women who did not turn their backs when the world proved to be a dark place. They saw the barbarity and nefarious actions of their fellow countrymen and took a stand. Humble but steadfast, they fought for their ideals - knowing full well that they may never see them in their lifetime, but discerning that fighting for anything less would be to lose the battle from the beginning. To compromise even in the slightest when it came to the matter of human souls would be to concede the crusade altogether.
William Wilberforce was one of these great men. A member of the British parliament for many years, his political career spanned from 1780 until 1825. Known as a religious man and an avid social reformer, Wilberforce is renowned today as a leading abolitionist of his time. He was passionate, and unshakable in his convictions, with reforms including factory conditions, animal cruelty and most notably, slavery. Wilberforce believed that no man should own another, and fought tirelessly to have the slave trade abolished in the British Empire. His efforts prevailed just three days before his death.
The brave men and women of the abolitionist movements over the years took on the responsibility of nations, they bore weights too heavy for them on their shoulders - the responsibility of the future.
I want to be like that. I take on responsibility for things because I want to be the one to step up. I hope, at times I pray, that others will join me - but if no one else does, I will. I will. To me it's not a matter of choice when I see slavery, and know of the severity of abuse and the extent of depravity. It is not a choice, but a matter of obligation and principle.
My responsibility is not only to the future, but also to the past.
To do justice to the lessons learned.
To be diligent not to make the same mistakes.
To live up to the high standards set by the men and women who are the heroes of history and time.
This is my responsibility to bear.
I must live up to their legacy, or I will have failed.
If I do not fight now, then what were they fighting for in the past?
How can I let their sacrifices be forgotten?
To bear the responsibility of knowledge is never easy. Knowledge of the past legacies, and knowledge of present atrocities at times seem overwhelming, and terrifying, and impossible.
And yet, I am reminded of a quote from William Wilberforce, “We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible...So we will do them anyway.”
The lives of the men and women of history were never easy. In fact, they always came at significant cost. Great and terrifying costs. But to be at the forefront of history, to live and carry on the legacy of something so great...it is worth the sacrifice. Wilberforce, known for his distinguished and unmatched natural eloquence, put it this way, “Accustom yourself to look first to the dreadful consequences of failure; then fix your eye on the glorious prize which is before you; and when your strength begins to fail, and your spirits are well nigh exhausted, let the animating view rekindle your resolution, and call forth in renewed vigour the fainting energies of your soul.”
So now, when someone looks at me and chooses to say, “You are taking on too much responsibility, one that is not yours, let someone else take care of it,” I have an answer to give. I have a full and compelling reason to take responsibility.
William Wilberforce and others fought for the abolition of the slave trade in the early 1800’s, and in 1833 they won, when the Slavery Abolition Act was passed. They succeeded in changing laws and banned slavery in the entire British empire after 30-years of hard and uphill battles. I cannot let their legacy be forgotten.
For the sake of those who are in bondage today, for the sake of those who will be enslaved tomorrow, and for the sake of those who gave their very hearts, souls, minds, and lives for the abolition of slavery in the past - I stand up today and do not choose to look away. I will not look away because I know and am sure of my responsibility to the past.
It is not too late to be a part of the impact!
Right now, thousands of people around the world are taking on the creative challenge of wearing a dress or tie in the month of December. The reason? To bring freedom to the 40+ million around the world still trapped in slavery. Your donation or participation in Dressember 2018 is part of a movement to end human trafficking for good.
About the Author
Amanda Kinney is a recent graduate of The Master’s University and calls Southern California home. She enjoys long walks, rain, photography, and all things peppermint. On a daily basis she can be found eating vegan food and talking with her peers about ethical issues. She is enthusiastic about joining the Dressember team and plans on being a lifelong advocate against slavery.