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Call + Response

2008 October 23
by Julie Clawson

So last night I got a chance to go see the documentary Call+Response about modern day slavery. I have to start by saying – go see this film. It should be required viewing for anyone with a beating heart. I know a lot about modern day slavery – I’ve read the books, I’ve seen the pictures, I’ve heard the stories. I still left this movie raw. It is hard not to have a visceral reaction of absolute rage after seeing it. Rage at the greedy bastards who enslave people for profit. Rage at the men who create the demand for sex slaves because they are ruled by their dicks. Rage at those who dismiss this discussion in the name of political or economic philosophy. Rage at myself for supporting the system that rewards slavery.

The rage starts the moment the movie begins and you see a group of 5 and 6 year old girls lined up in a brothel explaining what sex acts they offer. And it continues as one sees story after story portrayed of those in slavery – women chained in brothels, an entire family still enslaved for a debt incurred four generations ago, children abducted and trained as marauding soldiers and rapists. Atrocities that exist all around us and support the systems and lifestyles we take for granted.

The theme holding the film together is that of music. Music that is the voice of the people sending out their call. And as in the old spirituals that musical call must be answered with a response. So musicians came together to sound the call and be informative agents for this often unknown plague. Those who hear the call – hear the stories – are now expected to respond.

One line that struck me in the movie was when in an interview Dr. Cornel West spoke of the need to encourage those prone to paralysis to action. When I heard that phrase, the lines from the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing sprung to mind – “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” So often we hear sin and rebellion described simply as this wander away from God. The hymn pleads for God to fetter our hearts to him to prevent such wandering away. But Dr. West’s word’s reminded me that all too often the worst we can do is to do nothing. We are prone to paralysis. We don’t respond to the call. We ignore injustice, or, worse, find some excuse as to why we really shouldn’t bother to care. We do nothing.

And that multiplies the rage.

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  1. October 23, 2008

    Looks like a fantastic film. I need this one for a senior capstone course I teach where we did look at a few Dateline pieces and another piece on the slave trade in Cambodia. They are reading Oryx and Crake and there is a long passage about the character Oryx and her experience as a sex slave.

    “encourage those prone to paralysis to action”

    It’s very hard to do. I am learning that the individualist market ideology is so ingrained in people’s minds that it’s like asking fish to jump out of the water. But…if I can at least build awareness so they see things differently and outside of that mould that’s a start.

  2. October 23, 2008

    I only saw the trailer and that alone made me cry — and what resonated most was another thing West says: “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

  3. October 24, 2008

    yes – I loved that line.

  4. anni permalink
    October 25, 2008

    tim and i saw the film last friday night. i, too, was touched by what i saw. it’s hard to see that and not think that depravity is a real issue within us when you see those little munchkins talking about sex acts… sigh.

    i was very impressed with International Justice Mission. last night we went to the Art*Music*Justice concert in san antonio featuring charlie peacock (wow!), sara groves, brandon heath, etc. the musicians also talked about IJM and sara told personal stories about her interaction with them.

    now we’re just wondering what our role is… the need is so great…

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