Right now, while you're reading this, someone is being enslaved.
Right now, someone is working against their will with no hope of escape.
Right now, people are being moved across borders so they can be used as slaves.
Not 200 years ago. Not far away. Not some other race or ethnicity.
Right now, nearly 46 million people are living in slavery. They are all around the world — including in the United States. Slaves may have picked or processed the fruit you eat. Slaves might have caught, peeled or cleaned the shrimp on your plate. The girl on the bus with the haunted eyes may be a sex slave, forced into prostitution.
Today, it's called human trafficking, and while there may not always be telltale chains and lashes, it is no less slavery, and it is no less real.
It is estimated that $150 billion is generated by slavery each year and that 2 million of its victims are children forced into the sex trade, according to the International Justice Mission (IJM). And most of it is hidden in plain sight.
One way to stop it is to ensure it no longer remains hidden. And that's where Freedom Sundays come in.
September 25 is IJM's Freedom Sunday, which will feature events across the nation on human trafficking. If you can plan things in a hurry, you can host an event yourself. The Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking also hosts a Freedom Sunday on that date.
But if you need a little more time, Oct. 16 is another Freedom Sunday that, like the others, features events across the country.
Whenever you observe the event — many groups hold it in February — the important thing is that you do something, even if it is only raising awareness. Because nothing drives out rot better than sunlight.
Music to end gun violence
It is also easy to feel powerless against gun violence. But once again, a national event that features local events across the country can help make a difference, however small.
The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence is Sept. 25. The primary mission of the concert is to raise awareness, but local events can also raise money for local gun-violence-prevention groups or domestic violence shelters. There is also a petition available demanding background checks for all gun purchases.
The headline event is in New York City, where a concert will feature Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash, Eddie Vedder and others. But there are also hundreds of local concerts across the country, including several hosted by sisters, such as the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; the Dominican Sisters of Peace in Watertown, Massachusetts; and the Sisters of the Holy Cross in South Bend, Indiana. Find an event near you at concertacrossamerica.org.
The project is put on by a network of organizations, including Stop Handgun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence.
Remember, links, tips and accounts of the response to any crisis anywhere in the world are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.