Modern-day slavery ‘alive and well’ in 21st century

Presbyterian men urged to use power ‘well and wisely’

July 8, 2010

photo of three men eating

Bob Wadell, Evan Thomas and Gilbert Fitzsimmons talk during the Presbyterian Men's Breakfast. — Photo by Tony Oltmann

MINNEAPOLIS

After recounting several horrific stories of human trafficking to the Presbyterian Men’s breakfast Tuesday at the 219th General Assembly, the Rev. Noelle Damico said, “Modern-day slavery and human trafficking is alive and well in the 21st century.”

Those stories, the associate for fair food in the Presbyterian Hunger Program said, create “horror and outrage,” and we reach a point where “we don’t want to know ... It’s too painful.”

She recounted the story of Moses, who kills the slave master and runs away. He wasn’t only trying to escape, he was trying to forget the plight of his people, Damico said. “Then God comes to him and says, ‘Go back.’”

“We have a moral obligation to trafficked persons,” she said, and we can help if “we use our power well and wisely.”

Damico urged, however, that to help we must take the “human rights approach, not the hero approach.” The latter approach doesn’t work because that approach can cause fear, replacing one slave master with another. “We don’t need heroes,” she said, “we need humans.”

Gathering accurate information, working together and training are important steps to deal with human trafficking. She suggested that those interested in fighting human trafficking work within their communities with social service and other civic organizations.