“If you love someone who is ruining his or her life because of faulty thinking, and you don’t do anything about it because you are afraid of what others might think, it would seem that rather than being loving, you are in fact being heartless.” – William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce and a group of like-minded Abolitionists in British Parliament banded together, forming a group called the “Saints,” and they viewed their conviction to abolish slavery as a mission from God. Wilberforce wrote in his diary, October 28, 1787, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners.”
On, February 23 1807, twenty years after he first began his campaign to abolish slavery, Wilberforce and his team were rewarded with victory. After a ten-hour debate, the House agreed to the second reading of the Slave Trade Act to abolish the Atlantic slave trade, passing the law by an overwhelming 283 votes in favor to 16 against.
A dramatization of the final vote, a culmination of Wilberforce’s life work was captured in the 2007 film, released on February 23, “Amazing Grace,” directed by Michael Apted can be seen in the video below:
The Bill received Royal Assent, on this day, March 25, 1807 (212 years ago). The Act abolished the slave trade in Great Britain, but it wasn’t for another 26 years before Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 when slavery was officially abolished.
The same month, the United States passed on March 2, 1807, the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves. However, it wasn’t until New Years Day, January 1, 1863 a few months short of 56 years after the act, that slavery was officially abolished by President Abraham Lincoln, when the Emancipation Proclamation was declared.
Now back to Wilberforce. The quote attributed to him above of not helping a loved one, who is ruining their life is a very important one. This quote takes much courage to implement. We can see people around us who are making destructive choices, and sometimes we feel powerless to do anything.
Apathy is the opposite of love. If we feel like anything we say or do for someone would be rejected or ignored, then we really don’t love or care about that person. If we tell them what we think they want to hear instead of the truth, that is not love.
With the people in our lives that we truly care about, we must be bold to say the hard things, to have the hard conversations, in hopes that we can help them see and have the awareness to make a change.
We cannot change anyone, nor should we try to, but we must speak up when we see that something is amiss. We must not avoid or ignore a problem because of fear. Even if it means rejection, that is a better outcome than remaining silent, withdrawing, and looking the other way.