If you haven't been on the internet or seen the news over the past week, and thus don't know who Charles Ramsey is, he's the ordinary-looking neighbor who rescued three girls who had been trafficked and trapped in a house for 10 years. Yes, 10 years. One even had a child during that time. More than one suffered miscarriages. You don't need me to fill in the details.
People had searched for these missing girls. Had vigils. Cried. Prayed.
Then one random day, after bar-b-ques in the man's backyard and chats with neighbors and the trafficker playing with kids in the area--one day a man saw something that wasn't right.
And he did what was right.
For a moment, let's put ourselves in their shoes:First, the trapped girls.
In many cases like this, the beatings endured are not just physical. Trafficked victims are told it is their fault, they deserve what happened to them, there is nothing good for them outside, the only person who will love them or take care of them is the trafficker himself, etc. In time, if you hear a lie enough, you begin to believe it, even if that lie is that you are worth nothing and nobody out there cares about you.
Then there is fear. If you try to escape and are caught, there are many methods traffickers use to make sure you regret it. Unspeakable things. And not only to you, but to anyone you love. Threats against family or friends have kept many trafficked victims silent. Add to that the possibility that, if you get out, no one will believe you and you will be sent back.Or you may encounter someone who looks at your clothing and decides what kind of person you are, and refuses to help because you "must have done something to deserve all this." (Horrible thought, but it happens.)
Knowing all that, it makes Amanda Berry's escape attempt all the more heroic. That took incredible courage.
What might have happened? Any of the above, and she would once again be trapped in that house while the owner laughed with neighbors out in the yard.
Instead, a random person saw. He not only saw, but he acted.
From his perspective:
Mr. Ramsey could have decided:It was none of his business.
It was likely a domestic dispute (which is what he at first thought) and he didn't want to get in the middle of that.
He didn't have time to get involved.
Things could get messy, he didn't want to get caught up in a legal problem.
It could be dangerous.
Why should he care anyway?
He didn't know what to do, so better to do nothing.
In the Post Office yesterday, I heard the mail workers laughing over Charles Ramsey's quote: "Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little, pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms. Something is wrong here."
Wow. The world is looking at a man who was defined by a moment. However, it wasn't the moment itself that defined him. It was what he did in that moment, acting on stuff that was already inside him.
What about you? If a moment came your way, would you tell yourself the above excuses and turn away? Trafficking thrives on apathy; people coming up with reasons not to get involved. It thrives on lack of awareness; people not knowing what to do.
My question today is not whether you are out actively looking for victims to help. My questions is, if one came running your way, what would you do? Would the moment define you as a hero?
Charles Ramsey, I thank you for how you answered that question!