On a recent date night, my husband took me out to the movies. He took me to see 12 Years a Slave, which is being heralded as one of the best movies of the year. My husband says it’s the most powerful movie he’s ever seen.
It was awful.
Don’t get me wrong, the writing, storytelling, character development, believability of something so barbarically evil, and suspense were incredible.
But it was awful.
I got up and left at one point when the slave was defying his master, because I couldn’t bear to see what savagery would result from his insubordination.
I worked hard to keep down the popcorn.
I covered my ears and eyes.
I could not wait for the mercy of the ending.
And then it was over. And no one moved in the silent theater.
How could we? How could we get up, throw away our popcorn and soda, stop off at the bathroom, and go home to a comfortable, safe home after watching that movie?
And yet, that’s what we had to do.
My husband and I had plans to stop for dessert after the movie. I know I made him mad when I left the movie silent, got in the car, and asked him to take me home.
I know he needed more words from me, but I was in a rare moment of speechlessness.
As I watched the horrors of that movie, I thought about men and women, boys and girls, in slavery—forced labor, forced prostitution, the sex trade—today. The twelve years of that man’s slavery were over a long time ago, and those twelve years were as inhumane and evil as I can imagine. But there are still people living in unimaginable, inhumane evil today, in the year 2013.
As I covered my ears and eyes, I prayed for those enslaved today. I prayed that their stories would be told now—not 150 years from now in an astonishingly powerful film (or whatever the storytelling medium is then). I prayed that instead of sitting, stricken silent in a theater as credits roll, that people would hear their stories and be loud and active in the public arena.
The film is a must see, because it’s so awful. We must learn and not forget the awful existences that were reality. And we must learn of the awful existences that are reality for God’s children today, and we must work to change their realities to ones of love and mercy.
If you’re interested in being loud and active in the public arena on the issue of slavery today, then consider participating in the Virginia Abolition Conference 2014 coming up soon.
You can also support a child in Moldova, the country with the highest percentage of sex trafficking in the world, through one of PCC’s mission partnerships.