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Looking back

Published on: Published on: Thursday 11 Jan 2018

Contributed by/From: Contributed by / From: Arthur Pritchard

When: @

Much interest was generated by Kevin Bales’ talk on Contemporary Slavery at our meeting at Bootham in October.

Misan Kakayor, a Bootham college student wrote the following review:

In October, Quakers in Yorkshire heard] a talk by Kevin Bales, Professor of Contemporary Slavery at Nottingham University. The audience consisted mostly of senior Quakers, parents, teachers and a handful of students.

He was a brilliant speaker, and quickly I was wrenched from my blissfully ignorant state as a bucket of ice-cold reality was poured down my back. I was more than shocked to hear that slavery still exists in the world today in the cruel, abusive and lethal way that it did before (slavemasters with whips and all) - perhaps even worse as people are cheaper now (imagine your whole family being bought for 10 packets of 180g Doritos). And cheap equals disposable. A human life, which is usually considered invaluable, was suddenly disposable. Kevin also showed us the devastating effects these actions have on our environment, touching on government-protected reserves that are illegally dug out into quarries; deforestation in the Amazon to make charcoal, destroying some of the world’s largest carbon sinks; and the panning for gold using mercury in Ghana, polluting the water source used by villages downstream.

But the mood was lifted when we heard the efforts to conquer both of these major issues taking place in the Amazon, where ex-slaves and exslave- owners are replanting the Amazon, aiming to restore it to its former glory which their grandparents told them of.

I was given much to think about…how could I not be disturbed by these events? The everyday choices I make and the things I do affect these people. How could I help? What can we do? These were questions that I’m sure plagued the minds of everyone in that room when, as is the custom of Quakers, the meeting ended in silence.

If you missed this excellent presentation you might like to look at one of Kevin’s more recent talks online:

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