Free the slaves…
Break the chains…
Equality for all!!!
Sounds so noble, doesn't it?
What about the farmers… the plantation owners… the family businesses who have never used slavery in their entire lives? What happens to them when Fair Trade/organic co-ops take over a region?
What about the migrant workers who depend upon the illegal work they find to support their families? Once Fair Trade farms start blossoming in a region but as yet are unable to hire the workers, where do these people go? Do they remain in poverty or in the violence they are fleeing from?
Do we wish to see the lives that will be destroyed by ending slavery? The jobs lost? The families put in jeopardy?
We do not wish it.
I think of Blind Bartimaeus receiving his sight after being touched by Christ (Mark 10:46-52). He was a beggar… more than that, a BLIND beggar. Good for nothing. He subsisted on the coin of others. Was he blind from birth? Perhaps… Was there a tragic accident that left him sightless? Maybe… Was he struck ill and his sight taken? Possibly… we are not told the reason for his blindess. All was know is that it left him destitute, among the lowest of the low.
"Son of David, have mercy on me!"
The plaintive cry of a desperate man.
Jesus Christ, in His infinite compassion and love, turned and freely gave that very mercy upon Bartimaeus and restored to him the gift of sight. What a miracle! It leaves us with a sense of triumph and awe.
Who taught him a trade afterwards? Who took him by the hand and taught him: "This is a tree"… "This is a house"… "This is a woman"…? Who taught him how to work? To weave baskets? To fish? To carve? To harvest? We are not told who did… or if anyone did. He was set free, but if nothing was done to come beside his release then… what became of him? Did he live or die? Was he received into a family? Did he remain an outcast?
My point is this: the miracle does not end with the initial healing. Life must be lived on afterwards. And this can be (by far) the harder of the two encounters.
Slavery is a battle we fight to win. But yes… sadly… there will be casualties. I cannot say whom. I dare not. That would make me guilty of an arrogance I will not bear. But just as when slavery was abolished centuries ago, farms went under… people starved… the entire world underwent such a monumental shift that every single person from the King of England to the lowliest beggar felt the quakes. People — slave drivers, slave dealers, slave owners, slaves, anti-slavery advocates, farmers, preachers, buyers, sellers — suffered the growing pains of freedom. And yes… some died. Many died.
And thus it will be here.
But the cry of justice must not diminish because of our fear. Yes, there will be casualties. But we have hearts and hands of compassion to reach out to them too. We strive to free the captives but those that are forced to sacrifice their lives and families in the crossfire must also be tended to as well… loved… helped… re-established.
Freedom comes a high cost. We feel the agony of it. But we are willing to pay it… to sacrifice… slavery cannot continue. It must stop now.
There is no other way. But in our struggle for freedom, let us not lose sight of our compassion for those who will suffer along the way as we forge a new world where every person is seen as priceless.
"Son of David, have mercy on us…"