On behalf of the International Justice Mission at Regent University, this past Monday I had the opportunity to kick off Human Rights Awareness Week by hosting a screening of the new “rockumenatry” from Call and Response. This informative documentary is by far one of a kind as it works to bring to light the atrocities of modern day slavery through a consortium of musical artists, politicians, journalists, actors, scholars, and activists. Having served as vice- president to IJM over the past few years, I must say I was not entirely shocked as to the film’s content. What scared me about my reaction however, was the fact that the content didn’t shock me merely because I had heard it all before. The content didn’t shock me because I am no longer under the guise that the human capacity for wickedness has limits. I was somewhat taken aback therefore, when during our Q & A there was an air of genuine awe from the audience in regards to what they had just seen. “How can you be so blind?!” in my head I screamed, “How is it that you have been so sheltered throughout your lifetime as to not think this atrocity something capable of man?!” These thoughts radiate through my mind like poison. The indignation at those men and woman with such disregard for human life and dignity radiates through my soul like poison. I anger at injustice, I anger at ignorance, but most of all, I think I anger at myself.
On Monday night I watched a film. I watched a film in the warmth of the building I was in. I watched a film as a student in my nice, private university. I watched a film as a privileged child of the United States. I watched a film that should have left me crying and interceding for hours and yet that night I knew I was going to return home to the comfort of my bed. That night I knew I wasn’t going to cry out to God I was going to finish the book I was reading. That night I was going to set the alarm to the beautiful suburban home I was living in and sleep in peace while from dusk till dawn God would listen to the cries of young girls as they are rapped. I anger at myself. I anger at myself for being able to sleep when I know what goes on around the world in the quite of my suburban night! I hate myself for it. I hate myself for the privilege I have been given. I hate myself for complaining about the paper I needed to write. About the fact I can’t afford a new laptop or that new pair of shoes. I hate myself for watching such a film and then taking the opportunity, not to pray for those suffering, not to pray for the movement, but to sit here and complain about how much I hate myself for it!
It is here I am convicted. Why God calls some and not others we will never truly know. I don’t know why I am not that teenager dying of AIDS in Africa but I know that sitting here pondering such a question does nothing for her. In the spring I will graduate with a Bachelor’s, in fall I’ll head off to law school. So tonight…tonight, I will finish my papers. Tonight I will study for my finals because tonight I realize that I am sitting here because others cannot. I am getting my degree because others cannot. I have been given a voice and passion because others have lost theirs. In the film we watched that night I did not see a group of stars come together out of self-loathing, what I saw was a group of stars come together because of selfless-loving. It is so easy to choose hate. It is so very simply to say, “I hate that man who dare harm such a child.” It is so simple to say, “I hate myself because I’m not that child.” I tell you now that it is so much harder to love then to hate sometimes. If however, we have been called to “Learn to do good,” then we must accept the opportunities we have been given to learn. If we have been called to “Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. [and] Fight for the rights of widows” (Isa 1:17), then someone has to have the ability to seek, to help, to defend, and to fight. So WHY NOT ME?, I say. WHY NOT YOU?
Human Rights Awareness week, Dec.6th – 10th.