Modern Slavery—Its End Is Near!

“One man’s freedom is part and parcel of universal freedom. You cannot touch one without at the same time jeopardizing the other.”—Victor Schoelcher, French Journalist And Politician, 1848.

“WHAT is this dark side of man that has always led him to despise, subjugate and debase his fellows?” ask the editors of The UNESCO Courier. “And how is it that such a crime against humanity has remained unpunished even since the inception of Human Rights?”

The answer is complex. Greed is the motivation for the use of cheap child labor and for the phenomenon of debt bondage. Poverty and lack of education are blamed when girls are sold into prostitution and servile marriage. Religious norms and cultural concepts lie behind ritual slavery. And in the case of males who visit Bangkok or Manila to find young AIDS-free boys or girls, the motive is outright sexual perversion and immorality. All of this is part of a world where people are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, . . . having no natural affection, . . . without self-control, fierce,” in the words of the apostle Paul, a first-century student of law. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) It is part of a world where “that which is made crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot possibly be counted,” to use the words of an ancient statesman named Solomon.—Ecclesiastes 1:15.

A Change of Mind

Does this mean that nothing can or will be done to put a permanent end to slavery—either in its traditional manifestations or in its more recent forms? Not at all!

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) states that slavery is “a state of mind,” adding: “Even when abolished, slavery leaves traces. It can persist as a state of mind—among its victims and their descendants and among the inheritors of those who practised it—long after it has formally disappeared.”

So one way to abolish slavery would be to effect a change of thinking—a change of heart—on a worldwide scale. And that involves a change of education—teaching people to love one another and respect one another’s dignity. It  means helping people to root greed out of their hearts and abide by high moral standards. Who can provide such education? The OHCHR says that “everyone has a contribution to make to a world order which no longer tolerates inhumane exploitation.”

Consider an educational program that has been carried out worldwide by the Christian community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This program has successfully taught honesthearted individuals not to tolerate or condone inhumane exploitation. Through it, millions of people in more than 230 lands have been taught to treat all their fellowmen with dignity. Why is this program successful?

Because it is based on the Bible, a book inspired by the Creator of man. It is a book that upholds human dignity. People instructed in the Bible through the educational program of Jehovah’s Witnesses learn that our Creator, Jehovah, is himself a God of dignity. (1 Chronicles 16:27) He confers dignity upon all his creation. This includes both men and women, from all races, social backgrounds, and economic conditions.—See the box “Human Freedom and Dignity—From What Source?”

Equality and Respect for Dignity

The Bible teaches that God has “made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth.” (Acts 17:26) Thus, no one can claim either supremacy over any of his fellow humans or  the right to oppress or exploit others. People who are willing to learn come to appreciate the fact that “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35) They realize that God’s love is all-encompassing, since the privilege of a close relationship with him is open to all people. In fact, “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.

This Bible-based education has a profound effect on personalities. Through it people’s hearts and minds can be “made completely new.” (Ephesians 4:22-24, Today’s English Version) It motivates them to treat their fellow humans with dignity and respect. They are determined to “work what is good toward all.” (Galatians 6:10) No one can be a true Christian and share in the inhumane exploitation and oppression of any of his fellow humans. Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy to be a Christian community like the Christian congregation of the first century, in which ‘there was neither Jew nor Greek, and there was neither slave nor freeman. All were one person in union with Christ Jesus.’—Galatians 3:28.

A Change of Government

However, for there to be a permanent end to all forms of slavery, a drastic change in human society is required. The International Labor Organization says that to end human exploitation, there is a need “to change the environment which permits and condones” such practices. International actions, international cooperation, and a commitment of the world community are among further suggestions made by that agency.

This would logically require a power able to exercise broad control over our planet, a power able to ensure universal freedom. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former secretary-general of the UN, said that the real problems afflicting our planet must be solved “on a global level.” But not everyone is so sure that this could ever happen. Past experience shows that many people in power are too selfish and self-centered in their interests and goals to achieve such international cooperation.

However, the Bible—the same book that has taught millions to respect the dignity of their fellow humans—shows that God purposes to establish such a world government. In the Bible you will find many promises of a new world of righteousness. (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13) It is God’s purpose to clear the earth of any who do not love God and neighbor. God has revealed his purpose to set up a worldwide government over mankind to rule the earth in righteousness. Jesus told us to pray for that government in what is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer, or the Our Father.—Matthew 6:9, 10.

Human exploitation and every form of slavery will disappear under the rule of this government because Christ the King will reign “by means of justice and by means of righteousness.” (Isaiah 9:7) Oppressed ones will find release under his just rule, for the Bible says: “He will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul.”—Psalm 72:12-14.

If you yearn to see the end of slavery—all forms of enslavement—we invite you to learn more about God’s purpose to establish this liberating world government. Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area will be happy to help you to do this.

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HUMAN FREEDOM AND DIGNITY—FROM WHAT SOURCE?

We are all born with an inherent need and desire for dignity and freedom. Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, echoed feelings that are universal when he asked: “Who can deny that we all seek lives free of fear, torture and discrimination? . . . When have you heard a free voice demand an end to freedom? Where have you heard a slave argue for slavery?”

Such ideas are hardly new. Dismissing the notion that some are born to be slaves, first-century Roman philosopher Seneca, in his Letters to Lucilius, wrote: “Please reflect that the man you call your slave was born of the same seed, has the same good sky above him, breathes as you do, lives as you do, dies as you do!”

Imam ʽAlī, revered as the fourth caliph after Muḥammad, said that all men are “equals in creation.” Saʽdī, a 13th-century Persian poet, declared: “The children of Adam are limbs of one another and in their creation come from one substance. When the world gives pain to one member, the other members find no rest.”

The divinely inspired historical record found in the Bible highlights the dignity of all humans. For example, Genesis 1:27 describes man’s creation, saying: “God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them.” Our Creator is a God of freedom. “Where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom,” said the apostle Paul. (2 Corinthians 3:17) In creating man in his image and likeness, Jehovah bestowed upon humans a measure of worthiness, self-respect, and dignity. By freeing his creation from “enslavement to corruption,” he will also ensure that people will enjoy such freedom and dignity forever.—Romans 8:21.

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Everyone is entitled to dignity and freedom

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BIBLE EDUCATION HIGHLIGHTS RESPECT FOR HUMAN DIGNITY AND CONVEYS HOPE FOR A FUTURE NEW WORLD

A family Bible study in Benin

The beauty of these Blue Nile falls in Ethiopia gives a foregleam of a restored paradise