“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable … Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I applied for the Not For Sale Fellowship last summer, I was told explicitly that the six-month program would not be easy. “You’ll work harder than you ever have in your life,” my interviewer bluntly told me, with an edge of warning in her voice.
Her comment made me want to be accepted for the position even more.
It’s been a month since I first began my training as a modern-day abolitionist … and there is no doubt that my interviewer was right. It’s a six-month sprint—but how could I expect anything less when I’m part of the movement to end slavery? How could I be anything but willing and eager to expend all of my energy for the goal of justice?
I believe that everyone is capable of making a meaningful contribution to the abolitionist movement. Yet I am skeptical about the pursuit of justice as a vocation for the sole purpose of personal fulfillment. I believe that devoting one’s life to such an endeavour requires a sincere willingness to sacrifice time, comfort, resources, and even pride. I’ve realized that if I am truly here to be a smart activist within the drive to end modern-day slavery, I must be willing to suffer a little for the cause. As I was told on my first day of training: “It’s not about you—it’s about the movement.”
Of course it’s not easy. The work itself is exhausting, and the level of difficulty is only exacerbated by not always seeing change occur instantaneously. But it’s not about how rewarding this work is for me. It’s not about gaining personal satisfaction from seeing the fruits of my labour. It’s about giving everything that’s within me, regardless of what that entails, to develop sustainable solutions that create a shift in culture and mentality, and that will free those in captivity.
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable,” said Martin Luther King Jr. If I want to see an end to human trafficking, it’s going to take some sweat. I must be the change I wish to see in the world.