Monday, June 23, 2014

Biking to Meet Lincoln

I've wanted to live in D.C. for as long as I can remember, but it was only recently that I discovered my love of biking. So you can imagine that I was extremely excited when I found out that our capitol city is full of trails and bike routes. Yesterday, I was finally able to try one of these out.

The Mt. Vernon Trail stretches along the shoreline of the Potomac for 18 miles - starting at Mt. Vernon Inn and ending at Theodore Roosevelt Island. I started my ride yesterday in Old Town and was amazed by the views along the Potomac that it brought me. Lots of people were out on the trail with their families - biking, running, and walking - enjoying the beauty of a carefree Sunday.

I don't think I had actually realized that I was living in D.C. these past three weeks until on this ride. I rounded a bend and caught a glimpse of the view below. There they were. Two of the most famous monuments in our country were just across the water.

Instead of completing the route that I had planned previously, I decided to cross the Potomac and get a closer view of the Lincoln Memorial. I have seen them many times on trips to the city, but this time it felt different. I think there are two reasons behind this.

First, the fact that I had biked to this spot made me feel like more than a tourist. I felt like I belonged in this city. Until I started taking pictures, the people around me may have even thought I actually knew my way around.

More importantly, though, this unplanned trip to the Lincoln Memorial meant more to me because of everything I've been learning about the last few years - particularly the last few weeks. Organizations like International Justice Mission are dealing with the unfortunate reality that slavery still exists in our modern world. Abraham Lincoln took a bold step over 150 years ago when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

I spent most of my life thinking that slavery no longer existed after that bold move. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. The annual Trafficking in Persons Report was released just last Friday and revealed that no country is exempt from the problem of slavery in our world today. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said this at the release:
"If the cries of those who are enslaved around the world today were an earthquake, then the tremors would be felt in every single nation on the continent on every continent simultaneously. For years, we have known that this crime affects every country in the world, including ours. We’re not exempt. More than 20 million people, a conservative estimate, are victims of human trafficking. And the United States is the first to acknowledge that no government anywhere yet is doing enough. We’re trying. Some aren’t trying enough. Others are trying hard. And we all need to try harder and do more."

Clearly this is a problem. What we need, though, is relentless men and women with the same vision as Abraham Lincoln to stand up and fight. We must remember, though, that Lincoln was not the only voice in this fight. While powerful actors making change is necessary, nothing changes without a movement, and a movement involves lots of people. The more I learn about IJM, the more I admire the work they are doing in this world. If you are interested in joining this movement, visit their website here.

I hope that one day there are memorials erected in honor of the people who refused to ignore slavery in their generation.

You can read the full 2014 TIP report here.


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