Sunday, July 03, 2005

independence day and the sex-slave trade of six-year-old girls

For reasons I will never understand, I was born into this country. I did not have to struggle and scrape and pray and hope to come to America. I did not have to flee with grave fear for my life to get here. I did not have to leave it all—home, children, parents, siblings, belongings—to arrive at where I am today. My freedom cost me nothing. I gave nothing to get it. It is merely mine by birth. I was born into freedom. My daughter was born into freedom. Politics aside, I cannot deny the incredible and awestruck gratitude I have for those two facts.

Such gratitude convicts me, in our world of consumerism and super-sizing. I am shoulder-shruggingly ashamed of my constant struggle with discontent—my desire for a bigger house, brighter car, better stuff. I pray daily that I would receive the Lord’s eyes for the world around me and that I would stop comparing myself to the wrong people. I pray that I would have a global mindset that turns my world around. But I also secretly and quietly pray, I’ll admit, that it wouldn’t require too very much of me.

My daughter attends a fairly expensive Christian school—a decision we agreed upon long before her father and I were even married. We are thrilled with her school, but it is not without a few potential pitfalls. We experienced one of them right out of the gate in kindergarten. It involved the discrepancy in lifestyles among her friends and playmates.

My daughter is fairly gregarious and friendly, so she has been invited from time to time over to the homes of her classmates to play. This, in and of itself, was not a problem. The problem arose when she came home from play-dates exclaiming that some her friends lived in “castles.” And she was pretty darn close. At her young age, this doesn’t bother her. I pray that it won’t, ever. But I’m embarrassed to admit that it bothers ME. I have a HUGE struggle internally over this. Why doesn’t my daughter deserve that? Why do they get that and we don’t? Why does God seem to bless them and not us?

And so my daughter is asleep upstairs in her own bed in her own room in our own house, and I am complaining that things aren’t fair. Today she had three full meals and a few snacks to boot and even a chocolate peanut butter milkshake with the cool squirty-can whipped cream on top before bed. Our pantry is full, as is our refrigerator and freezer. We have so much stuff in our 1400 square foot home that we must regularly give stuff away to Goodwill to have room for the new. And with two sets of grandparents nearby, there is always a lot of new. She sleeps across the room from a bookcase filled with more books than we can possibly read in a month’s worth of bedtimes, next to her CD player with more CDs than she can play in a month’s worth of “chill out times.” In the fall, she will walk out my front door completely free, for the most part, from the threat of harm, get into my car, and she will go to school where she will learn freely (although not for free!) for the next twelve years all that she needs to know to put her on solid footing in our global market. She will learn about God freely, will worship freely, and will play freely. She will have a childhood, and will laugh and run and play. And yet I shake my fist at God and ask, “Why don’t we have what they have?”

And why DON’T I have what other people have? Why did I have the good fortune of living in America? Why was I given freedom of choice limited only by my financial resources, which, by global standards, is an incredible amount of wealth? Why do I have a roof over my head and the choice of how warm or cool I heat my home? Why am I not skin and bones, sending my children out to scavenge through dumpsters and trash heaps for our next meal? Why am I so fortunate that I do not have AIDS, or my daughter? Why don’t I live in a mud hut, dying and alone, worried about who will take care of my children? Why don’t I have to fear for my life as I watch thousands of friends, family and fellow countrymen be slaughtered in gruesome genocide? Why don’t I have to flee my home and homeland for my safety? Why am I not persecuted for my beliefs? For the color of my skin? For my gender?

I’m worried because I can’t afford to throw my six-year-old daughter a party at the Rec Center for her birthday and invite 50 of her closest friends, while there are six-year-old girls, all over this world, even within this country, being sold to grown men who know better to be tortured and raped repeatedly in order to pad some slime-ball’s pockets and enable him to get some his next fix. SOLD. I look at the innocence in my daughter’s eyes—the na├»ve joy on her face—and I shudder. Why are we so fortunate? Why is my daughter not one of them?

She was born free.

I will teach her to never, ever, take that for granted.

Hopefully, I will learn that lesson myself, along the way.

© 2005


Anonymous said...

Wow! That was amazing! You got me to shed a few tears by the end, thank you for writing this and for sharing. We all need to greatful for what we have!!!
~Jen Mast (WTY mommy)

Erin said...

Hey Lorie!
This is really awesome. Im so glad you're blogging and sharing!
Wanting more of the world is something I struggle with too. I've realized perspective is an awesome way for me to not take my life for granted. This entry shows what perspective can do.