So apparently the sun rises at like 5 am in Berlin. Unfortunately, we did not close the blinds so we were in for a rude awakening from the sun. Just kidding, I slept like a rock last night and had no trouble getting back to sleep. After forgetting what the concept of a day was due to the time zone changes and sleep deprivation, to say I was tired yesterday is an understatement. Yet somehow, we all found the energy to bring Texas dancing to a German dance hall and enjoy some fantastic food. Afterwards, we took a night adventure to see the location of the infamous burning of books under the Nazi Reign at Humboldt University. After seeing this, and a few golden squares on the sidewalk with the names of those who were taken from their homes in to be put in concentration camps, I was reminded that we are in a very special position to be able to do the exact thing those people were punished for doing: learn and question.
What’s discouraging to me is that these oppressive forces can still be found in our society today; one of my strongest passions is fighting human trafficking, an issue that has integrated itself into almost every aspect of our lives. When I think of the people that were taken from their homes and families and forced to work for no reason other than a belief that they were somehow inferior, I can’t help but be reminded of the United Nations Palermo Protocol’s definition of Trafficking in persons. It defines it as the recruitment, harboring, transfer, transportation, or receipt of persons by means of force, fraud, coercion, or deception for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation is taking advantage of someone else’s weakness for your own gain. This is exactly what the Nazi’s were doing, and it serves as a reminder that it is our daily duty to work towards freedom. It’s not as if we are to watch what we say, how we think, or what we do to prevent oppressive forces like this from happening, we have to do those things to combat the oppressive forces that already exist and will exist unless we are persistent.
Isaiah 58: 6-7 & 9-10 reads:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
“Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”
While the sun may have risen earlier than expected today, it serves as a great metaphor that the sun rises on the darkness of the past when we give help to the oppressed and work towards freedom. I include the title that says “Until All Are Free,” because the work we do on this experience doesn’t end when we get back to the States; it ends when we have used the knowledge we’ve gained to free all people.