I told my children the Biblical story of Joseph -
(RECAP: Joseph was Jacob's favourite son. His ten brothers: understandably jealous. Not so understandably sell him to traders, tell their father he's been eaten; the traders in turn sell him to Egypt where he becomes a trusted servant until he spurns the advances of his master's wife, the end result of which is that he is thrown into prison where he languishes, until he ends up correctly interpreting some dreams, which eventually gets him onto the Egyptian king's radar (a.k.a. Pharaoh); he becomes second in command and with great foresight, leads the country through famine; his brothers show up to buy grain, he tricks them, eventually forgives them, reveals who he is, and is reconciled with his father. The End.)
- and when I finished, we chatted a bit.
"I've got six brothers and sisters,"
I said. "And there is NO WAY I would ever do something awful like selling them into slavery."
I turned to my son. "Do you think you could ever sell your sister into slavery?"
Solemnly, he met my gaze.
I turned to his sister. "Do you think you could ever sell your brother into slavery?"
Solemnly, she met my gaze.
she said firmly.
- "For a thousand pieces of silver. I'd sell him for a thousand pieces of silver."
He didn't appear overly concerned, despite this revelation from his beloved sibling.
"That's awful, despite your adjustment for inflation! What would you do with a thousand pieces of silver?!"
- "I'd take it to the bank," she said nonchalantly. "And get more money."
"First of all, that's not really how banks work," I informed her. "Second of all, what would you actually do with all that money?"
- "I'd buy two brothers."
"Let me get this straight: you would sell your brother for a thousand pieces of silver, and then you would turn around and buy two more brothers?"
she said confidently. "I'd still see him though."
"How would that work?"
- "I'd sell him to our grandparents. So I could still visit him. Unless they sold him to Egypt."
"That's your plan? To sell him to your grandparents so you could pick up a couple more brothers, but still see this one?"
He stood there, soaking it in; not overly concerned.
- " Yeah,"
she said. "That's my plan. Unless they sold him to Egypt."
"That would not be a good place for him to go right now. Mohamed Morsi, who was the President, was overthrown in July, and it would not be a safe place for your brother to be right now. You are definitely not selling him."
- "Well he could just stay with our grandparents then."
"No! And besides, none of them have a thousand pieces of silver to throw around. Do you know that slavery is still around today?"
"In many parts of the world."
We started looking over our giant map on the wall. "Here in Brazil, there are thousands and thousands of people who are basically slaves and work on these giant ranches and they're treated terribly. And here...." (We continued to look over different parts of the world and various locations where different forms of slavery, in all its euphemisms, still exists.
"Slavery is an awful, awful thing that still affects millions and millions of people - including many children your age - in different ways. And even though we're laughing a bit here, the truth is that it is still a very real and very terrible thing today. I think that God expects us to fight awful things like slavery and to help people who need our help."
She nodded solemnly, and she didn't outright promise, but I have a feeling that I may not need to worry anymore about her trying to sell off her brother behind our backs.
And if you are looking for a quality organization to support who actively helps to fight human trade and sex trafficking, then take a look at International Justice Mission. They make a difference.
There's a line in the film The Usual Suspects where one of the characters says: "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."
Slavery is not something that happened in the past and is over and done with. It exists. That's a fact. What people choose to do with that fact is up to them. But it is a fact.
Don't sell your siblings. Not cool.