Monday, June 2, 2008

Deacon Daniel Klawitter on Satyagraha Hunger Strike

As some of you may know, Gandhi coined the term Satyagraha to describe his philosophy of nonviolent resistance to the British Empire. The word itself translates from the Sanskrit as: “the firmness of truth.” Well, I want to offer up some firm truths for those of us here today.

Many people are shocked to discover that 27 million slaves exist in our world today, half of them children under the age of 18. You may be surprised to know that nearly 200,000 people live enslaved at this very moment in the United States, and an additional 17,500 new victims are trafficked across our borders each year. Far too often, “guest” workers in America become trapped into arrangements that are nothing more than indentured servitude. Too often, workers are held against their will in this country and forced to work in slave-like conditions as domestic maids, agricultural workers, cooks, dishwashers and garment workers in sweatshops.

In fact, the commerce in human beings today rivals drug trafficking and the illegal arms trade for the top criminal activity on the planet.

So no matter what your religion might be, I would hope that we can all agree on one of the firmest truths of all: that all human beings, regardless of their country of origin, have a right to dignity, respect, and just compensation for their labor. The British Empire that Gandhi fought against may be gone, but we still have a class of financial and business tyrants who seek to build their empires by exploiting the vulnerable. So I would invite all people of good will to stand firm against these predatory practices and to lend your voice to the new abolition movement which seeks to end slavery once and for all in the 21st century.

Thank You,

Deacon Daniel Klawitter

1 comment:

Kevin said...

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for a great post. The 27 million estimate comes from my book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. If you would like to know more about modern slavery and how it fits into our lives, please visit our website:

I was with the hunger strikers in front of the US Capitol last week and spoke at their rally. The H2 visa system is fine on paper, but when never enforced is a open door to exploitation and slavery. For ideas about how to end this see my new book: Ending Slavery: How We Free Today's Slaves. Here's what Desmond Tutu said about it:

“None of us is truly free while others remain enslaved. The continuing existence of slavery is one of the greatest tragedies facing our global humanity. Today we finally have the means and increasingly the conviction to end this scourge and to bring millions of slaves to freedom. Read Kevin Bales' practical and inspiring book and you will discover how our world can be free at last.”

All best
Kevin Bales