Yesterday I was given the opportunity to participate in Ramapo College's Human Trafficking Week by leading a group of students in the spiritual center through a novena I had written to confron the darkness of sex slavery with the hope of prayer.
Step back to a few years ago and I lived in blissful ignorance of human trafficking. I thought slavery was something that disappeared in the 1800s. Then some of my friends encouraged me to come hear a speaker on human trafficking in the New York City metro area. I was completely overwhelmed with the extent of the problem. Slavery had not gone the way of the dodo bird like I thought. Instead, it was alive: deeper, darker and affecting the world in unimagineably sinister ways.
Stunned at the evil that was in our very midst, I chose to react.
Now I'm not a social worker.
I'm not a lawyer.
I'm not a non-profit hero.
I write and teach and think. That's what I get paid to do.
So to confont the darkness, I chose to react with art.
A few of us were joining a network of churches, non-profits and faith-based organizations to do a prayer walk through the Flushing neighborhood of Queens to confront the darkness of human trafficking with prayer. I was privileged to write a novena for the prayer walk. It was the only way I could confront the overwhelming darkness and evil of what was happening around me.
And last night, as I lead a group of college students in that same prayer, I realized that I am no better nor worse at confronting the darkness than I was three years ago when I wrote the novena. I haven't learned the intricaties of the criminal justice system or left my job to do grassroots advocacy. I understood, last night, as I drove home from the event, is that I will always have art to confront the darkness. I will always have the ability to put words onto paper, to read them, to share them and to hopefully see them grasp the hearts of others and push them into confrontation with the darkness of this world.