I remember sitting in that social studies class at 13 years old and feeling rage. I remember thinking, “Surely, if I were alive back then, I would have fought this. I would have picketed the auction block, Washington or opened my house to the Underground Railroad. Surely,” I claimed inwardly, convicted to my adolescent core, “I would have done something.”
My innate sense of justice needed to believe—demanded to believe that I was not the type of person who could be complicit in the face of loaded ships and auction blocks.
This was me. I remember feeling this way in 5th grade when we learned about the evil of Columbus and early colonists. the slave ships. the underground railroad. the civil war. the injustice in distopian societies. oppression in China. bullying of those with special needs.
It was a big year for me. A heavy year of seeing the world as it was. broken and systematically flawed. That was a lot for an eleven year old to handle and I felt odd admiring Jonas in The Giver, and being fascinated by abolitionists, and strongly disliking Chris. But now that I’m older, it makes sense. I am wired to care about injustice. So much so “I am willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause.”
Y’all should read this article from Relevant. It’s good. It explains why we should care about this injustice of modern slavery. How even though it’s difficult, you can do something about it. You should do something about it. “Because whether our modern society wants to admit it or not, we are allowing actual slavery to thrive on our watch. And I, for one, don’t want to tell my own eighth-grade daughter that I didn’t do anything to try to stop it.”
I read a legend once about when Abe Lincoln first met Harriet Beecher Stowe, an abolitionist who also wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 1852. The story goes that he leaned down, shook her hand and said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”