The moral of this story – especially for anyone living in the suburbs of these here United States – is SHUT UP! The Emancipation of Robert Sadler: The Powerful True Story of a Twentieth-Century Plantation Slave is an incredible, heartbreaking and amazing story of human cruelty and one man’s redemption.
If you ever thought that your life was difficult, that the hand you were dealt was unfair or that the odds were all stacked against you – you need to meet Robert Sadler. At five years of age his mother and sister died and he was sold into slavery – twice – by his own father! This happened in 1917 – 40+ years after slavery was abolished. The stories he shares about the nine years he spent as a slave will incite admiration, fury and awe. How people – his “owners’ – could be so cruel is beyond the comprehension of most. How he endured, and cultivated a strong faith and love for others, is astounding.
At fourteen he escaped – illiterate, unworldly and inexperienced – into the “real” world, a place that he had never seen nor been aware of in any way. This was the complete unknown. His recounting of the next several decades attests to his inner strength, the depth of his faith and his love for others. Never a wealthy man, but having a tremendously deep faith, he traveled all over the country to serve those in need and share his Christian faith. This book is his testimony – his road from bondage – to total abandon for his beliefs.
The danger in reading a book such as this is in thinking that it is history. While, Robert Sadler has long since passed away, millions of children – just like him – are in bondage all over the world today. They, of course, are not called slaves, nor are they “owned” – instead they are laborers in the “free market.” Unfortunately, in the global race-to-the-bottom, laborers are the most abused and vulnerable group – they work under the harshest of conditions, subject to the whims of ownership, and always facing the threat of being replaced by someone willing to work longer hours for less money. They work as factory labor, prostitutes, domestics and a host of other jobs – some in countries we never think of – but many work in our back yards. The poorest among us are competing with each other in this race to the bottom. According to Hope for Justice:
- 12 years old is the average age for girls trafficked into prostitution in the United States.
- An estimated 200,000 American children have been forced into the commercial sex trade in the United States.
- In the U.S., I in 3 runaways is approached by a sex trafficker within the first 48 of being on the streets.
- 1 million people are trafficked across international borders every year.
80% of them are woman and children. 50% are children.
- In Europe, an estimated 500,000 woman are sold into prostitution annually.
There are more slaves today than at any other time in human history. No country is immune.
- Human trafficking is estimated to be a 32 Billion dollar industry – the second largest illegal criminal syndicate, right behind drugs.
This is not a pleasant subject. But it is our reality. Internet porn, cheap food and clothes, and globalization drive this epidemic. We are all stuck in the web and all of our hands are bloodied by the truth of human slavery. We all benefit, profit and prosper on the backs of these souls who have been enslaved for our benefit. Most of us are unaware of this sin. If we are aware, we feel powerless to affect any sort of change. We are on very tight budgets and couldn’t survive without the cheap goods produced by this system – so what are we to do.
I have no answer. The first step is to recognize and admit that this is a problem. Awareness. Then we must begin to consider these people in our decisions, to make changes within ourselves in how we earn and spend our money. We need to conceive of a new way to conduct business – fairly and humanely. Remember, when slavery in England was the bedrock of its economy – the very idea of abolishing it was ludicrous – it would have crumbled them economically – yet, when the moral weight of their actions became too great – they found a new way to conduct business and end the slave trade (in England at least).
Wal-Mart:The High Cost of Low Price, Amazing Grace and Trade are films that provide the whack in the head we all need about this issue. Take a couple hours out of your day and watch any of these films – I challenge you to do so and not feel the need to help these people. This is not something to be “solved” – it is simply something we must stop supporting – if we do, it will stop.
If you have a little more time, read The Emancipation of Robert Sadler. His story will reveal the insidious nature of evil present in slavery and the rationalizations used by those who support its practice. It is also a story of redemption and a man who changed his heart through faith, then selflessly helped others.
Be Strong. Stay Hungry. Walk Tall.