Lessons from the past
Today I went to visit Bristol’s M shed, which is a museum of Bristol life. Whilst there I was struck by one exhibition in particular. The exhibition in question depicted the slave trade and the fact that much of Bristol’s rich architecture and wealth was built from the money of slave traders.
Throughout the exhibition there were quotes from a variety of slave traders. This quote struck me in particular:
“We fitted out again for Africa and thence to Charlestown… during the gale we lost 20 or so of the slaves… and the remainder much impaired, so that we came to a very bad market.”Joseph Banfield – “Journal of a life at sea”
Reading these words the natural inclination is to feel horror at the past and relief that now is a different, more enlightened age and yet the stark reality is that slavery is more prevalent today than at any other time in history.
Worldwide there are over 27 million people enslaved, people like you or me who have now become nothing more than a commodity. A21 is an organisation that exists to abolish trafficking describes modern slavery this way:
“Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings, mainly for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. As the worlds fastest growing criminal industry, it affects every nation across the globe. Every thirty seconds, someone is forced into this type of bondage – modern slavery.”
The slave trade depicted in the museum was obvious and visual, whereas much of today’s is unseen, but it is there. Another quote from the museum said:
“We cannot be responsible for our past but we should learn from it.”
The statistics of today would suggest that we have yet to learn enough. Slavery in the past was abolished through lots of individuals doing what they could and today we can do the same. A21 exists to abolish slavery. The website is full of information about this issue and ways to get involved.
Stop the traffik is another site working towards the same goal. The website again is full of ways in which to get involved in small ways to work together to make a difference.
Together we can make a difference.