One of the common problems that I noticed in the recent years is a social menace called “EXPLOITATION”.

Dictionary meaning:

Merriam-Webster dictionary: ‘to make use of meanly or unfairly for one’s own advantage.’

Cambridge dictionary: ‘to use someone or something unfairly for your own advantage.’

Oxford dictionary: ‘make use of (a situation) in a way considered unfair or underhand.’

It is noteworthy that, “Unfair” is the common word used in all these definitions.

Description of exploitation:

It is necessary to see the areas in which exploitation has taken place. Let’s see a few explanations one by one:

1. Children are being exploited in school: Children leave home for school early in the morning and spend the entire day in school till late evening (some schools tax children in the name of special classes: I still wonder what is so special about special classes when the same thing is being taught in working hours!). Now almost all schools work 7 days of the week. Children are overburdened by the luggage (school bag) they carry to school.

2. Teachers are being exploited: A teacher’s job was considered a noble profession once upon a time. They were treated with dignity then, now they are treated like slaves in corporate schools. No leave, no extra pay for overtime working hours, apart from teaching, teachers have to canvas for the school and bring at least 5-10 students in the next academic year to get their increment. Teachers too have to be available to work all the days of the week.

3. Staff members are being exploited: Both secular and sacred institutions, public and private sectors exploit their staff members: maximum work-minimum pay. Leaders in organizations donot accept a “no” for an answer from their staff. Staff members are not respected, irrespective of their age, experience and qualification. Work time has increased from 8 hours to an alarming 14 hours.

4. Nature is being exploited: Air, water and environment are polluted and exploited by human beings. Animals in the forests are hunted down, forests: shelter for birds and animals are destroyed for the use of human beings. Cruelty in every possible way has been carried out by human beings. Our cities and towns have become concrete jungles in the name of development. Thus there is more deforestation in both rural and urban areas.

Message to mankind:
When man exploited fellow human beings and nature, the perfect reply has been given to human beings in the form of shutdown. Everyone who had money as their only goal and ran after it would realise, at this shutdown time, that money cannot buy many valuable things: love, peace, joy etc., And this time of shutdown also has given a relief to children, teachers, staffs in every sector, forests and the animals from being exploited. Hope human beings will learn a lesson and be humane to fellow human beings and nature.

Biblical message:
In the light of shutdown, let’s examine what happened in the history of Israel. God blessed Israel as a nation. He protected the people and their land from enemies. He provided both during their wilderness journey and in the promised land. God was gracious and merciful in spite of their shortcomings from time to time. God gave them clear instructions and laws to follow. God also told them that the land would be desolate, people would be in captivity. The reasons for desolation and captivity are found in Jeremiah 25:3-7, Leviticus 25:1-7, 20-22; 26:33-35; 2 Chronicles 36:20-21. The reasons are as follows: 1. Disobedience to God’s word, 2. Judah’s sin: idolatry and evil doings, 3. Number of violations to God in regards to the observation of the seventh year rest. Israelites had been under captivity for 70 years. God in His sovereignty brought them back to their home-land after the 70 years were over.

Keeping the past incident and thinking of the present calamity we can learn the following lessons:
God is sovereign and He is in absolute control of the affairs of the world. He will not tolerate disobedience to His words.
God is zealous for His name. When He is challenged, He gives due reply exhibiting His power.
God is not blind to the violations of people in power, not deaf to the poor and oppressed. He thwrats the plan of the wicked and oppressors, at the same time listens and answers to the oppressed in due time and wipes away their tears.
An unfair humanity is treated by fair God. May God help us to be sensible and sensitive to the responsibilities that He has entrusted with us.

Rev. G. Wesley, Anglican ordained priest, ministering the Rehoboth Bible Church and Principal of Grace Bible Institute, Erode. Member of Erode EGF since 2013.

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