The story of Joseph and his ‘Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ is well known not least because of the way it has been retold by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
It’s certainly very entertaining as I discovered again when I attended a recent production in a local primary school. The singing was great and the acting was fantastic. But above all I was impressed by the passionate way in which every member of the young cast threw themselves in to do ‘simply the best’.
When I left though, I couldn’t stop thinking about the dark side of Joseph’s story. Take his family life. Dysfunctional is hardly the word to describe it. His dad had two wives as well as two concubines and as a result Joseph ended up one of the youngest of 13 children. Unfortunately, he became his dad’s favourite and he doted on him, which is why he gave him that famous coat. It was a clear sign that the birthright was being handed on to him and jealousy flourished. Joseph did little to help things because he told tales on his brothers! Even worse he shared his dreams with them which seemed to suggest that they would bow down to him one day. Poor Joseph: he was so excited (or was it naïve?) that he failed to detect the growing resentment that finally led to their decision to get rid of him. Thankfully, they didn’t kill him. But he did end up in Egypt; not in a coffin but trafficked for twenty pieces of silver.
As I re-read the familiar story I couldn’t help thinking how some things never change. Take his troubled family life. How common is that? Siblings falling out, as well as parents and children. Family life can prove challenging. Tempers can rise, words can wound, and relationships can be shattered for all sorts of reasons. It’s happened in my own family. Two sisters (who are no longer alive) had a disagreement at a funeral and refused to speak to each other for more than 20 years. Thankfully, they did finally sort things out but I often think of the twenty years they wasted. Joseph finally sorted things out with his brothers too because he was willing to forgive them in spite of all the grief they had caused him. Our lives would be so much happier if more of us were willing to do that.
The issue of human trafficking has not gone away. I have to admit that it wasn’t on my agenda until a few years ago when I was asked to help write a children’s book known as Brave. The storyline is fictional, but it reflects in a child friendly way the real-life traumas of those who are currently suffering from the scourge of modern slavery. The figures are truly horrifying. According to the International Labour Organisation there are an estimated 50 million people enslaved in the world today and although the British government said some 13,000 potential victims came through their referral mechanism in 2021, the CEO of one NGO has told me that the actual number of victims in the UK could be closer to 100,000.
The problem isn’t confined to trafficking either. One of my contacts is an expert on the fashion industry and he reckons that as many as 170 million children worldwide are being exploited to meet our demands.
Can I challenge you to take a closer look at this pressing scourge? Would you take a look at the facts and ask yourself what you could possibly do to make this world a better place? When you go out shopping perhaps? For more information visit Brave Bear Trust: www.bravebeartrust.org and Invisible Traffick: www.invisibletraffick.org