Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Passover Greetings

I don't know if I will be able to blog again for the next few days, so let me take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a happy holiday, even if you don't know that you are having one.

I may still post again, but I will leave you with these thoughts on freedom.

Physical Freedom

The Haggadah tells us that in every generation we are required to see ourselves as if we, personally, had been taken out of slavery to freedom. Many people try to recreate that experience by talking about our own personal enslavement, such as slavery to money, to fashion, to other people's opinions, to our own cravings, and so on.

While these are important issues, it would do us well to remember that real physical slavery exists today. Even in the U.S.

- Bonded Labor. From antislavery.org:

"[Bonded laborers] are non-beings, exiles of civilization, living a life worse than that of animals, for the animals are at least free to roam about as they like. This system, under which one person can be bonded to provide labor for another for years and years until an alleged debt is supposed to be wiped out, which never seems to happen during the lifetime of the bonded laborer, is totally incompatible with the new egalitarian socio-economic order which we have promised to build.

--Justice PN Bhagwati, Indian Supreme Court, 1982

Today, there are at least 20 million bonded laborers in the world.

- Child labor. From antislavery.org:

The International Labor Organization estimates there are 246 million working children aged between five and 17.

Across the world, millions of children do extremely hazardous work in harmful conditions, putting their health, education, personal and social development, and even their lives at risk.

- Human Trafficking. From antislavery.org:

A US Government report published in 2004, estimates that 600,000-800,000 people worldwide are trafficked across borders each year. This figure does not include those who are trafficked internally.

I'm sorry to say that Israel has its own human trafficking problems; as many as 5,000 women unwillingly work as prostitutes, many of whom came from other countries and were promised jobs in Israel but were lied to and imprisoned upon arrival.

Other resources:

catwinternational.org - Coalition Against Trafficking in Women

What can you do to help?

At the very least, consider donating to one or more of these organizations. Talk about it in your church or synagogue. Make it a priority in your life to help save at least one person. The Talmud says that he who saves one person is counted as if he had saved the entire world.

Spiritual Freedom

Back to spiritual slavery. I didn't mean to dismiss its importance, only to put it into context. Here are a few quotes on slavery and freedom, some of which you may agree with, and some of which you may not. Discuss.
(sources: quotationspage.com, wisdomquotes.com, Quotes on Freedom, brainyquotes.com)

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.
Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors. There is no other.
Carl Schurz

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.
Benjamin Franklin

The only freedom that is of enduring importance is the freedom of intelligence, that is to say, freedom of observation and of judgment, exercised in behalf of purposes that are intrinsically worth while. The commonest mistake made about freedom is, I think, to identify it with freedom of movement, or, with the external or physical side of activity.
John Dewey

The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.
John Stuart Mill

People hardly ever make use of the freedom they have. For example, the freedom of thought. Instead they demand freedom of speech as a compensation.
Søren Kierkegaard

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.

Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right of being able to do what we ought.
Lord Acton

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
Samuel Adams

Freedom cannot be given... It can only be taken away.
David Allan Coe

Happiness to all,

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