As speakers for the dead, historians shout at the top of our lungs what our forefathers warned us about decades ago. One of those admonitions was “Don’t ignore slavery!” Well, dear reader, I’m here to say we’ve ignored it too long. Our Society faces—not past tense— present tense: 21st Century slavery.
I was ignorant of the extent of the atrocity taking place until recently. I learned about the enormity of human trafficking in the spring of 2020. I was perusing social media and came across an article on Tim Ballard. I was immediately intrigued about his work because he has an organization called Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) As O.U.R. indicates, he’s a modern-day Harriet Tubman, although there’s no physical resemblance. Tim looks like a surfer dude from Huntington Beach. But like Tubman, he risks his life to free others. He and his colleagues go undercover to rescue children from the sex trade/slavery industry. Yes, that’s slavery. It still exists.
After I read Ballard’s story, I came across a film based on one of his missions to rescue a little girl. The movie is called Sound of Freedom. Jim Caviezel plays Ballard; his wife is played by Mira Sorovino. I intensely watched the five-minute trailer. It threw me on a roller-coaster of emotion. I was full of rage. I wanted to get a kit together and join the cause. Then I remembered I have little tactical training and would be a liability out there. So I allowed my grief to overwhelm me. I wanted to curl up in a corner and cry. How could this happen?! Then I recalled what a 1st Minnesotan wrote in his memoirs about their fateful charge into a Confederate brigade on July 2, 1863. “We had no time to weep,” the Minnesota soldier recalled. It’s a sentiment all combat veterans share.
We the People don’t have time to weep either. We’re in the midst of a war on human trafficking: 21st Century Slavery. It’s an ugly subject; it’s an unpopular topic. It’s predominantly ignored by our politicians and main-stream media. Still, a quick look at the numbers indicates that contemporary slavery should be declared a global plight.
“Human Trafficking is a $150 billion a year global industry where more than 40 million people are trapped in modern-day slavery including forced marriages. $100 billion a year is derived from sexual exploitation. 24.9 million of these individuals are used for profit in some form of human trafficking. 6,225,000 children are regularly exploited and held captive for an average of two years . . .”
Human trafficking includes several different forms of slavery: sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and drug trafficking. Forced marriages are considered a type of servitude as well. Human organ trafficking is another form that comes into play in all of the different forms of trafficking. Yes, the U.S. has slavery within our borders. “The U.S. Department of State estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States each year.” Unlike slavery in America hundreds of years ago, modern day slavery targets every ethnicity and nationality.
What can we do? We can pray for wisdom. We can pray for the victims. We can’t ignore contemporary slavery. We need to tell others. We need to unite. We can demand our politicians take action against this abomination. We need to hold those responsible at the top accountable, not just those on the streets doing the dirty work. We need to hold the U.S. companies that knowingly profit from slavery accountable. We can also take direct action against the slave trade. The U.S. has the best trained military, including Tier I and Tier II operators. I’ll leave it up to your imagination to figure out what these warriors could do. On the other spectrum, we need to set up support programs for survivors of slavery.
In addition, we can continue to learn more about the subject. The movie Sound of Freedom hasn’t been released yet. It may come out January 2022. I don’t know why there’s a delay. There are, however, plenty of documentaries on human trafficking. Amazon has Tim Ballard’s documentary on one of his missions to Haiti. The film is called “Operation Toussaint.” You’ll need Kleenex. YouTube has numerous interviews of Ballard. You also can monitor U.S. Marshalls on social media. That agency provides press releases when children and adults are liberated. There are many individuals and organization in this fight. And I’m thankful for those current, and past, Freedom Fighters confronting and eradicating slavery.
“I have heard their groans and sighs, and seen their tears, and I would give every drop of blood in my veins to free them.” — Harriet Tubman, lead conductor Underground Railroad
“It’s funny, because we all read history and we think, ‘Oh, I would … have risen up, I would have fought, I would have been an abolitionist,’ And I tell them, ‘No, you wouldn’t have. If you would have, you’d be doing that right now. You know trafficking exists, you’ve heard of it, but you don’t want to look.” — Tim Ballard, Operation Underground Railroad
 Photo 1: https://miamisclc.org/human-trafficking-myths-facts/; Photo 2: Tim Ballard, Facebook; Photo 3: Ballard, Caviezel and Sorovino, Twitter; Photo 4: A Special Operator, https://www.military.com/special-operations/delta-force.html; Photo 5: Tubman rescuing a child, https://harriettubmanbyway.org/tubmans-legacy-to-be-celebrated-at-day-of-resilience-sept-12/
 Duane Schultz, The Glorious Fourth, July 4, 1863 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002), 258.