If you're like me, you probably didn't know there was such a thing as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Well, now you do. And today is it!
Also if you're like me, you're probably thinking, "Oh no, another person drumming on about yet another cause that I have to feel guilty about." Well, I admit that my own first response to hearing more about injustice issues like this is to shy away. First of all, because I don't need another reason to feel guilty in my life. And second, because knowledge, after all, breeds responsibility to act. And I don't like to act, because maybe it will be inconvenient. Maybe it will be scary. Maybe I'll make a fool out of myself.
Maybe I'll have to stop being so self-centered.
Please understand, I am not accusing anyone else of self-centeredness. All I'm saying is, whatever fears or struggles you may have about getting involved in an issue like this, or perhaps some other cause that pulls at your heart, believe me, I have them, too. But let's remember, we don't all have to transform ourselves overnight into William Wilberforce or some other heroic figure. We can start small. We can start timidly, and yes, even fearfully. We can start reluctantly and with skepticism.
But hey, we ought at least to start, right?
On Wednesday night, I went to hear Kevin Bales, president of the non-profit organization Free the Slaves
, speak about "Ending Slavery" as part of the ALoud LA
series. Here are three facts that I learned about modern-day slavery:
1) There are an estimated 27 million people enslaved worldwide today.
2) An estimated 14.5-17.5 thousand people get trafficked into the United States annually.
3) The biggest challenges to ending slavery are threefold: Awareness; Commitment (particularly on the parts of governments, to uphold their laws and resolutions); and Money (non-profit organizations depend on donor support to maintain and expand their operations. Also, from an economic standpoint, slave labor is cheap (free), which translates to less expensive goods, which translates to most people's bottom line).
I think what I liked best about Dr. Bales' presentation was that I didn't leave that night feeling crushed by the burden of how hopeless the whole issue is. There are things that can be done, and things that ARE being done. And one thing that is pretty easy to do is simply learn more about the problem. Here are some links to resources that should help you do that:International Justice MissionPolaris ProjectNightLight
That is by no means a comprehensive list, of course. There are also plenty of books available, including Disposable People
by Kevin Bales and Terrify No More
by Gary Haugen.
So anyway, tonight I'll be joining some friends in Old Town Pasadena as part of an effort to raise awareness about trafficking. We'll be sharing information with people we meet on the street. Do I want to do this? Well... yes and no. Remember what I said about all the reasons I don't like to act? This kind of shindig is exactly what I was talking about. Inconvenient and scary, with plenty of potential for making me feel foolish. And while I wish I could say that I was looking forward to it with great eagerness, the plain fact is, part of me does not want to go. Another part of me is making me. The part that tries, often with a great deal of unsuccess, to get me to realize: sometimes, life is not about me.Addendum: I just realized, reading over this post, that I still somehow managed to make it mostly about me! Hmmm. Go figure.