Ten Reasons Why You Should NOT Care About Human Trafficking

less care more happy

Human Trafficking? Who Cares?

Isn’t ignorance bliss? Who wants to go through life cultivating compassion for one another when we can pursue blissful happiness and material wealth at the expense of others? I mean, caring about others just isn’t fun and it’s soooo tedious and boring. In the spirit of not giving a shit about your fellow mench, here is my top ten reasons why you shouldn’t care about human trafficking and modern day slavery:

10 –  There are just so many problems in the world to think about already. Who wants one more issue to care about? A $30 – 90 Billion a year industry where children and adults are sold as slaves for labor and sex is just too much to process. I mean, who cares if it’s the 2nd largest global, illegal trade in the world, right?

9 – It’s not happening in my backyard, so let someone else deal with it. It’s not like it happens here in the cities of the good ol’ US of A. Isn’t this just some issue that happens in eastern Europe or southeast Asia? How do we even know that the US contributes at least 9 Billion a year to the illegal human trafficking trade? I just can’t believe it.

8 – I already have my own children to raise. Let others deal with the runaways and trafficked children who are forced to have sex at least 20 – 50 times a day. It’s not like my kids will ever think about running away from home.

7 – I just can’t believe it’s happening everywhere without evidence. If it’s really such an issue, how come victims aren’t speaking out more about it? I mean, they should show the courage to speak up despite victims or their family constantly issued with death threats by traffickers. It’s their fault for not sticking up for themselves, right?

6 – It’s just not fun to buy things if I know they come from slave labor. I don’t want to put on a t-shirt knowing that the person who made it only makes $.20 – $.30 cents per day or that the silicone material that my phone’s chips are made from were mined by an 8 year old child. That just depresses me and I just want to be happy.

5 – It just takes too much effort to educate myself about human trafficking. I can just turn my head to ignore the problem and put money in the pockets of the traffickers. All they ask us to do is do nothing, to look away, or pretend it isn’t happening. 

4 – It’s not like human trafficking affects me directly. Don’t get me wrong. I feel bad for the victims, but it’s not like human trafficking is a burden on the economy or that it costs more to rehabilitate victims than to put in place prevention programs.

3 – I’m a proud American and I just don’t have time to care about the issues of foreigners. How many Americans could really be victims of human trafficking? It’s not like there are upwards of 300,000 American youths at risk of sexual exploitation any given year. 

2 – We’re a free country and slavery just doesn’t exist here anymore. I just want to put our history of slavery behind us. What’s all this talk about not really having freedom until we educate ourselves and become aware of modern day slavery? Seriously, kids as young as 6 forced into labor and sexual slavery? That’s ludicrous!

1 – I just want to be able to pursue my happiness. Please leave me alone with all this talk of modern day slavery and human trafficking. It makes me soooo unhappy knowing that while I enjoy the comforts that I have earned, there are at least 2.4 million people being trafficked and that 80% are trafficked for sexual exploitation. C’mon. Shouldn’t that number be way higher to seem plausible? It’s not my fault data is so hard to come buy because it’s such a clandestine industry run by savvy criminals.

So, there you go folks. Those are my top ten reasons why you just shouldn’t give a fuck about human trafficking and modern day slavery. It’s too much to think about. Just let me be in my bliss and leave me alone. Geez.

– Ignorant Rabbit

20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking

Fight Human Trafficking

Join The Fight Against Human Trafficking

I say this often, but it bears repeating. Human trafficking for illegal labor and sex is one of the most hidden and prevalent atrocities currently being committed against those without economic choice. It is a global systemic problem and if you think it doesn’t happen in your part of the world, then think again. I know many of you are aware of the problem here in the US and want to help, but are at a loss as to what you can do. The following are 20 ways you can help fight human trafficking (courtesy of the US Dept of State):

1. Learn the red flags that may indicate human trafficking and ask follow up questions so that you can help identify a potential trafficking victim. Human trafficking awareness training is available for individuals,businesses, first responders, law enforcement, and federal employees.

2. In the United States, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888 (24/7) to get help and connect with a service provider in your area, report a tip with information on potential human trafficking activity; or learn more by requesting training, technical assistance, or resources. Call federal law enforcement directly to report suspicious activity and get help from the Department of Homeland Security at 1-866-347-2423 (24/7), or submit a tip online at www.ice.gov/tips, or from the U.S. Department of Justice at 1-888-428-7581 from 9:00am to 5:00pm (EST). Victims, including undocumented individuals, are eligible for services and immigration assistance.

3. Be a conscientious consumer. Discover your Slavery Footprint, and check out the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Encourage companies, including your own, to take steps to investigate and eliminate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chains and to publish the information for consumer awareness.

4. Incorporate human trafficking information into your professional associations’ conferences, trainings, manuals, and other materials as relevant [example].

5. Join or start a grassroots anti-trafficking coalition.

6. Meet with and/or write to your local, state, and federal government representatives to let them know that you care about combating human trafficking in your community, and ask what they are doing to address human trafficking in your area.

7. Distribute public awareness materials available from the Department of Health and Human Services orDepartment of Homeland Security.

8. Volunteer to do victim outreach or offer your professional services to a local anti-trafficking organization.

9. Donate funds or needed items to an anti-trafficking organization in your area.

10. Organize a fundraiser and donate the proceeds to an anti-trafficking organization.

11. Host an awareness event to watch and discuss a recent human trafficking documentary. On a larger scale, host a human trafficking film festival.

12. Encourage your local schools to partner with students and include the issue of modern day slavery in their curriculum. As a parent, educator, or school administrator, be aware of how traffickers target school-aged children.

13. Set up a Google alert to receive current human trafficking news.

14. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper about human trafficking in your community.

15. Start or sign a human trafficking petition.

16. Businesses: Provide internships, job skills training, and/or jobs to trafficking survivors. Consumers: Purchase items made by trafficking survivors such as from Jewel Girls or Made by Survivors.

17. Students: Take action on your campus. Join or establish a university or secondary school club to raise awareness about human trafficking and initiate action throughout your local community. Consider doing one of your research papers on a topic concerning human trafficking. Professors: Request that human trafficking be an issue included in university curriculum. Increase scholarship about human trafficking by publishing an article, teaching a class, or hosting a symposium.

18. Law Enforcement Officials: Join or start a local human trafficking task force.

19. Mental Health or Medical Providers: Extend low-cost or free services to human trafficking victims assisted by nearby anti-trafficking organizations. Train your staff on how to identify the indicators of human trafficking and assist victims.

20. Attorneys: Look for signs of human trafficking among your clients. Offer pro-bono services to trafficking victims or anti-trafficking organizations. Learn about and offer to human trafficking victims thelegal benefits for which they are eligible. Assist anti-trafficking NGOs with capacity building and legal work.

Thank you for joining in the fight to end human trafficking. Let’s all build a greater society together.

– Thankful Rabbit

 

Stay Angry, Aware, Awake and Fight For A Better Future

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The Need To Stay Angry

[Notice: The picture at the end of this post is grim. However, it is necessary to understand the realities of our world]

If you’re not angry then you’re either a stone or too sick to be angry. You must be angry. You must not be bitter.” – Maya Angelou

I’m angry. I’ve been angry for a long time. I’m angry at the constant iniquities of world. I’m angry at a world that is capable of providing safety, freedom, sustenance, shelter and democracy for everyone but squabbles too much to do so. I’m angry at those who wish to live small, only focusing on the tired, myopic arguments and politics. I’m angry at those who prey on the weak and weary. I’m angry at inept leaders with small visions. I’m angry at myself for not doing more.

…but I’m not bitter. I don’t dissolve my anger into immobility and incompetent complaining. I’m looking for solutions to the best of my ability and encouraging others to do so, also.

With the high profile media coverage of the 300 women kidnapped by Boko Haram (twenty more kidnapped recently) and the newer atrocity of two girls raped and hanged in India, I am beyond angry. I am heartbrokenly enraged. I have questions abound and at the forefront of my thoughts:

How can this still be happening in our ‘modern’ age?

Are we not supposed to be beyond the dark ages and more enlightened?

What must finally happen for all of this to stop?

Must it always be proved to be economically beneficial to elevate ourselves or can we just do it without economic justification?

So many questions…always. The only way to not become overwhelmed and then numb to these questions is to stay angry. When we stay angry we push ourselves to become more aware and that awareness keeps us awake and non-complacent.

My fight against modern day slavery and human trafficking has taken me into the grim underbelly of the world, physically and psychologically. I have begun to understand how vast the issue is and that much, if not all of it, stems from gross iniquities of poverty and freedom of choice. Things as simple as a toilet in the house could have saved those two girls who were raped and hanged. Also, the cultural heritage and tradition in certain parts of the world where women are viewed as lower second-tier citizens must stop. No excuses. If it takes changing the identity of an entire culture to do so, then perhaps it must be done. We must strive to strip away the unevolved layers of ourselves and cultivate a higher way of being. The argument for tradition when it leads to gross atrocities is unacceptable. For those who say it can’t be done, then I say, move aside and let those of us who see a better world do what we need to do and learn from us. Become the solution or remain part of the problem.

Stay angry…

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– Angry Rabbit

Build A Greater Legacy

Stop Human Trafficking

What Kind Of Legacy Will Our Species Leave Behind?

How often do you ask yourself this question?

This question weighs on my mind most days and more so with the recent abduction of over 200 women from a school in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram. It has come to light that many of these women are at extreme risk of being swallowed into the human trafficking trade. According to women who have escaped, some of the captives are being raped upwards to 15 times per day to satisfy the sexual appetites of the terrorists. Unless these women are saved, they will face a life of mental and physical torture in the sex slavery trade. Although I sit here with clenched fists and pure, unmitigated rage at the atrocities being committed, I have no choice but to temper my anguish and clear my thoughts so that I am not a reactionary and add to the cycle of causal awareness.

The problems of the world are not a roller coaster to ride when we see fit to become aware and unaware of them. That is a vicious cycle in and of itself. What we must do is become ever vigilant and keep forever mindful of the criminal forces at play in the world. They do not rest and so we must not. We must open our eyes. We must stop blinding ourselves with nonsense comforts to mitigate our unwillingness to see the legacy of our species. Disease of the heart is real. Darkness is real. This reality can be changed if we are willing to set aside our material ignorance and commit our will towards greater human endeavors. In the end, what do any of our technological marvels and ambitions mean if we cannot learn how to treat each other correctly?

I know I am pontificating and perhaps you do not understand how any of my broad views relate to the specific incident happening in Nigeria. What has happened there was not an act born out of randomness.  There are many factors that have bred the environment for this to happen and I see the same ingredients being sprinkled about time and time again in regions all over the world. Some of the ingredients for disaster are evident like systemic poverty and corruption. Some are not so evident, such as our own consumer habits and how they add to the economic divide that foster hopelessness for others less fortunate.

We must do a better job at understanding the causalities at play that drive even the best of us to become animals and feral beasts. Organizations like Boko Haram can disperse and cease to exist if we are willing to truly tackle the issues of economic poverty, religious persecution, racial prejudice, political ego, and, frankly, human stupidity. We must look harder at ourselves and understand what kind of world we seek to build. Are we building a world where all can thrive or is it business as usual? I do not dismiss the fact that societies have improved over the centuries. However, it may not be enough if we are to truly evolve into an enlightened society. Greed still exists. Perversion still exists. Corruption still exists. Injustice still exists. It has simply taken on new forms and we cannot stop fighting it.

In my lifetime, I would like to see human trafficking greatly diminished. To do so, I will need your help in educating yourselves about the issues that come into play. I will need your help in educating yourselves on how to improve the way you live so that the way you affect others is outwardly positive. I will need your help in learning more of the ways of the world and becoming aware and awake. I know we can do this together. I am forever hopeful for if my hope fails, then I will in turn add to the dissonance of the world.

My thoughts are with the women who were abducted in Nigeria and I hope for their safe return.

– Aware Rabbit

Growing list of organizations fighting human trafficking that I support:

Human Trafficking Hotline: Please call 1-888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to BEFREE (233733) f you or someone you know is currently a victim of human trafficking

Polaris Project http://www.polarisproject.org

Love146 http://www.love146.org

Not For Sale http://www.notforsalecampaign.org

Misssey http://www.misssey.org

Somaly Mam Foundation http://www.somaly.org

We Are Thorn http://www.wearethorn.org

Nomi Network http://www.nominetwork.org

The Covering House http://www.thecoveringhouse.org

Prevent Human Traffickinghttp://www.preventhumanttrafficking.org

 

Battle Hymn

Battle Hymn

 

A Battle Hymn For Life

[Please call 1-888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to BEFREE (233733) if you or someone you know is currently a victim of human trafficking]

I recently started a new song called, Battle Hymn. It is a trifle of a song only to offer myself some comfort against the darkness that I expose myself to with my work in fighting human trafficking. The need to end this horrific activity weighs heavily on my mind most days. It is still a highly clandestine activity and hard to prosecute due to insufficient data and victims who won’t come forth. It continuously staggers my mind as to how oblivious we are here in America to the trafficking activity within our own borders. Most Americans think human trafficking is relegated to 2nd and 3rd world countries. Even amongst my friends and associates, the awareness that San Francisco is a major trafficking hub eludes them. Human Trafficking is a globally systemic problem and must be stopped. Trafficking activity is estimated to be approximately a $32 billion/year industry (it is most likely closer to $40 billion now). The United States contributes to almost 1/3 of human trafficking revenue, approximately $9.5 billion. That is a staggering number for one country and the figure is sure to grow in coming years unless we educate ourselves to the dilemma at our doorsteps. Here are some basic statistics of human trafficking in the US:

  • Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly in the United States. (United Nations)
  • Approximately 300,000 children are at risk of being prostituted in the United States. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • The average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the United States is 13-14 years old. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls. (U.S. Justice Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
  • The average victim may be forced to have sex up to 20-48 times a day. (Polaris Project)
  • Fewer than 100 beds are available in the United States for underage victims. (Health and Human Services)
  • Department Of Justice has identified the top twenty human trafficking jurisdictions in the country:” Houston
• El Paso
• Los Angeles
• Atlanta
• Chicago
• Charlotte
• Miami
• Las Vegas
• New York
• Long Island
• New Orleans
• Washington, D.C.
• Philadelphia
• Phoenix
• Richmond
• San Diego• San Francisco
• St Louis
• Seattle
• Tampa  (Department of Justice)
  • A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls. (U.S. Justice Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
  • One in three teens on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. (National Runaway Hotline)

I work directly on the investigative and education side of fighting human trafficking. It is my hopes that by continuously pushing this information out into the public eye we can begin thinking more consciously about the responsibilities we have to each other to create a world rid of human trafficking. There are many great organizations doing tremendous work on this front and they need our continuous support. We must stop being ignorant of what is happening behind closed doors in our very own backyards.

[A list of some organizations fighting human trafficking is at the end of this post]

I leave you with my battle hymn for the lives of those young souls who have been or are at risk of being trafficked:

Battle Hymn

Above elation

sincerity

A secret to a life devoid of love

All this waiting

forever days

For when true kindness comes from far away to stay

A lonely breath

crystal grey

A voiceless ghost who prays away the strife and pain

The heartless half

dependency

Lift the fog of war a veiled duplicity

Drink the poison

If it makes us free

Pour our greatest of despair and drink the tea

Heavy lance

Oaken shield

Tests of conviction from an island of ideals

Give up the name

A fake facade

The plastic smiles elucidate the lies inside

Humble beginnings

Twisted ends

All I can do is sing this song for you my friends

A battle hymn

to alleviate

Lives born into dissonance from beginning to end

So I will sing

Oh, how I’ll sing

This song for you so you can live and I can end

So I will sing

Oh, how I’ll sing

This song for you so you can live and I can end

This song for you

This song for you

This song for you so you can live and love again

 

– Warrior Rabbit

Growing list of organizations fighting human trafficking that I support:

Human Trafficking Hotline: Please call 1-888-373-7888 or text INFO or HELP to BEFREE (233733) f you or someone you know is currently a victim of human trafficking

Polaris Project http://www.polarisproject.org

Love146 http://www.love146.org

Not For Sale http://www.notforsalecampaign.org

Misssey http://www.misssey.org

Somaly Mam Foundation http://www.somaly.org

We Are Thorn http://www.wearethorn.org

Nomi Network http://www.nominetwork.org

The Covering House http://www.thecoveringhouse.org

Prevent Human Trafficking http://www.preventhumanttrafficking.org

 

 

Labor Of Love

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“The ubiquitous smile of the poor should not be taken at face value; it conceals inexhaustible grief…” – Jeremy Seabrook

Above are the hands of an eight year old child laborer. Take a look at your own hands and look at the picture again. Stark difference. We here in the western world are far removed from labor atrocities such as this. Yes, we have our issues, but the difference in comparison is extreme to say the least. The purpose of this post is not to shame you, but to educate. We live a privileged life and must not forget that in order for us to enjoy our conveniences, we rely upon the labors of the unfortunate. The garments we wear, the fancy gadgets we use, the cheap consumables we buy in our markets, the laptop that I type this from. These are the fruits of poorly paid laborers living in desperate poverty. These laborers consist of the unfortunate few who must work for cents on the dollar every day because our corporations will do anything to increase their profit margins and if asked for a raise will simply discard the ‘rebel rousers’ for someone else who will fill their shoes and continue in indecent labor conditions. These groups of laborers include the trafficked children forced into decrepit work conditions in order to help their families earn enough to survive at a bare minimum base line. These children, never given the chance to enjoy the dreams and fantasies of an oblivious childhood; forced to grow into tiny adults in the dark and gloom of sweltering factories. Can they ever reclaim the light of childhood?

In order for us as a species to make any life we live worthwhile, we must work to stop these types of atrocities and learn to value each other equally. We need to take a hard look at how we blindly consume without an afterthought to the outcomes to those laborers who create our products. Slapping on the band aid of ‘charity’ to address issues doesn’t improve us. It is an admission that we are aware of the dire need for change except we don’t change ourselves. We throw money at a problem without learning what we can actively do to solve the issue within ourselves. Spiritual change is the slowest while technological and economic change is the fastest benefiting the elite few. We are on a potentially dangerous trajectory with the ingredients for the perfect storm to cause social collapse. We must turn this around or at least bring it into a manageable balance. I am not a doomsday naysayer, but if we can’t learn to treat each other with care, equality, compassion, then all is for naught for we will leave behind a legacy of imbalance and dissonance. As a species, we carry the capability within us to transcend the basest way of living, to open our minds to higher consciousness, and create magnificent worlds full of wonder and curiosity. My mandate is to create these worlds so that all may enjoy and not just the privileged few. These worlds can be built without exploitation of our brothers and sisters. I ask that you join this mandate. I believe we can create a sensible world as a labor of love.

Please visit the following site for updated information on the fight for better global labor rights: www.globallabourrights.org

I leave you with this video to help in breaking the cycle of devalued labor:

Answer The Damn Question

change

I have been vexed the past few years by my entrepreneurial community here in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Most places I go I turn and hear the magnanimous proclamations of everyone working to change the world. Every time I hear this proclamation I stop the speaker and ask:

What kind of world are you working on changing it to?

The answer?

*the echoes of crickets*

It seems that in the rush to create the next great business or app we tend to attach an air of self-importance to ourselves and think we are ‘changing the world’. How can we be changing the world when we have no idea what kind of world we are working towards changing it to? What is the bigger vision? I’m sure some would argue that simply working on innovative ideas are good enough. Random change for the sake of random change. Most point at the recent innovative mechanism of social media and say: “See?” Sure, social media has changed the way we communicate and transfer information between each other. However, I point back and say: “Your point being?”

Random innovation is wonderful. I don’t advocate against it. What I am advocating for is more intentional innovation based on an understanding of compassion. How do you envision the product you are building will affect the current world and subsequent generations positively? Are you helping to create a world where all can flourish in abundance and equality? or Does your product only benefit the few and hurts the many? Just take a look at the electronics industry, cellphones specifically. We currently have more active cellphones in use than there are people on the planet and we replace them on an average of every 6 – 8 months. We have rapid communication and carry mini computers in our pockets, but have created an unsustainable level of electronic waste, poor labor conditions, child labor trafficking, negative consumer behavior, etc. Is the next new innovative cellphone really worth it? This is just one example of, to put it bluntly, a shit ton of wasteful innovation.

I was recently afforded the opportunity to yet again ask someone: What kind of world are you working on changing it to?

I was at a party and talking with someone when we were interrupted by someone I can only describe as acting quite smug and self-important. I had the sense that he was more interested in talking about himself than taking part in our existing conversation. When I asked him what he does, he replied with how he works in consulting (no specific field given) and changing the world. He was about to go on to something else when I abruptly stopped him and asked the 1 billion dollar question: What kind of world are you working on changing it to? There was an awkward pause. He clearly had never been asked this question before or even thought about it. After a few silent seconds, he said equality. Ok. I asked him to elaborate. Specifically, I asked him what he was working on that contributed to making the world more equal. This is where everything unraveled into a stream of consciousness of utter and pure bullshit. He avoided the question by spewing something about needing political reform at the top and how we are all sheep and should lower our expectations of each other. I’m not kidding. This was said to me. He pontificated on and on for several minutes. I had the feeling he liked hearing himself sound smart. I had to stop him and get him back on track to actually answering the question. I pointed outside the window of the apartment we were in and said: Look outside. What are you doing to equalize the immediate issues in SF?

Again *the resounding echoes of crickets*

It was at this point that I think he understood that I simply don’t suffer fools. He tried his best to put me up against a wall and asked me back what I’m doing to benefit the world. Weeeeeell, I told him I have dedicated my life to advocate for the homeless, fight human sex trafficking, live a compassionate and non-judgmental life [ongoing life lesson], sold off most of my belongings to travel the world and live a more simple life of sustainability and lowered consumption, and work to teach others on how to create platforms for each other to draw out our innate value and worth.

He looked at me and cast his eyes down.

Understand that I wasn’t trying to put him down or put him in his place, but he asked and that is my answer to anyone who asks. He looked back up and made some backhanded compliment of how ‘noble’ I was, but that society would never be able to learn to be more compassionate unless some major event forced us to be. He clearly held a cynical view of humanity and we weren’t going to see eye to eye. I tried very hard not to shake my head and let the conversation taper off. My only hope is that this person will actually think about the question of changing the world now that he has been posed the question.

I give this example because, more often than not, I run into similar interactions when I ask the question. Simply not enough people actually think about it. Whenever I mentor new entrepreneurs, this is one of the first questions I pose (along with other business sense related questions). It is my hope that we can create a culture of intentional and compassionate innovation that is well thought out. We don’t need to create perfect product systems, but we should at least be striving to do so at a global scale to benefit each other and create a more holistic world.

I pose the question to the world:

What kind of world are we working on changing it to?

– Intentional Rabbit

The Worth and Value Within Us All

value

My stance on the worth and value of people is very simple:

Everyone holds immense experiential value and worth. 

Everyone. There is no exception to this. I propose that those who can’t see this carry a limited and diminished view on life. I have stated in the past that I do not believe in absolutes and this is one of those times where I may contradict myself and hold to a strong conviction. However, I will also state, with humor, that if we are able to start manufacturing humans in the future, then my ‘absolute’ stance may change. Until this absurd future comes to be, I hold my ground on my current views. I spent 2012 exploring this notion of all-encompassing value and worth and discovered that if we can learn to create platforms for each other to share our life stories then we can discover that everyone holds incredible value in life experience and wisdom.

I’m revisiting the concept of value and worth today because on Saturday I was able to take part in a non-profit program designed to teach those suffering from great adversity the needed skills to interview well and procure jobs. I met some incredible people working to overcome daunting troubles in their lives. The workshop is a 5 week bi-annual program run by Courageous Women, which was founded by an inspiring woman, Toshonna Ross.  I had the pleasure of meeting Toshonna yesterday and learned about her story of transcending adversity herself and becoming an inspiration for us all. My friend Christine was part of the team of trainers teaching the interview skills and she had reached out to me to come in and volunteer as a mock interviewer/employer. Two life missions I have set myself on are tackling the homeless issue and human trafficking issue. This volunteer opportunity fell under this umbrella of my life missions and I made it a priority for the weekend.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the classes. I anticipated dealing with a varying degree of people coming from different sets of adversity: domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, etc. I was correct in assuming so. For 4 hours I conducted mock interviews along with feedback sessions.  I didn’t hold back. I have been part of hiring teams before and conducted many tough interviews. The students had been studying hard and it showed. I could sense nervousness from some of them, but no one capitulated to their nerves and they all acted with great poise and confidence, taking all constructive criticism extremely well.  I was surprised to see so much hope and courage in their eyes throughout my interactions. The training team had done a great job prepping the students. If anything, I was nervous because I wanted to be able to serve the students well and prepare them for their upcoming job fair interviews. I humbly hope I was able to meet their expectations.

There was one stand out story that deeply inspired me. One of my interviewees, Adrian (last name withheld for privacy reasons), was one of my best interviewees. When it was his turn, he came up to me with confidence, giving me a firm handshake and looking me in the eye. I challenged him throughout the interview to see if he would stumble, but he answered all of my questions quickly, candidly and honestly. He let his personality shine and even made me laugh at one point. It wasn’t just his personality that shone through, but also his ability to tackle some tough questions and prove why he was the right man for the job. After the interview, we had the same feedback session that I gave everyone else. That was that, or so I thought. 

At the end of all of the interview sessions, we all (trainers/students) gathered for a group feedback/debrief session. It was an opportunity for the students to voice their feedback. I was overwhelmed with how much the students appreciated our time and knowledge. These people have all been dealing with great troubles in their lives and to see them all with smiles and holding themselves with self-confidence carried more weight than any spoken thanks could. As I sat and digested all the feedback, Adrian raised his hand and I nervously anticipated what he had to say.

He told the class that he had learned that it was ok to smile and let his personality shine.

Such a simple thing that most of us take for granted on a daily basis. I learned after the group dispersed that Adrian was considered one of the quiet ones and rarely participated in discussion. He was withdrawn and kept to himself. Everyone was surprised to hear him speak up during group discussion. The fact that he did so well in his interview and spoke up afterward meant that the program had reached him and unlocked a hidden potential which was always lurking within him. I learned about this as all the trainers met for drinks and snacks afterwards. I kept up my cheerful appearances, but secretly my internal monologue was speechless and deeply moved. I am proud to have been part of Adrien’s process of coming out of his shell and wish him, and all of the students, the best of luck at the upcoming job fair.

It is my enduring hope that we can all one day come to the understanding that each and everyone one of us carries tremendous value and worth and that it is up to us to learn how to unlock it for one another.

– Deeply Moved Rabbit

We Are We

neighbor

When you walk down the streets and see an indigent man, do you see a charity case or a man with potential?

When you see a poverty stricken woman huddling in the corner, do you see a bleeding heart project or a woman with capabilities?

Are those street survivors a separate segment of society or are they us? Mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters.

Is the homeless street urchin turned mischievous pickpocket a lost cause to a path of crime or a little brother or sister needing missed guidance and love?

When we treat others without dignity, do we think if we deserve the dignity we bestow upon ourselves?

Are those in poverty a cup to fill with money and food or a bowl to be filled with opportunity?

Do we exist in segments of society and see each other with borderlines or are we, us?

Am I you or you, I?

We are we. A people. A singular species with a need for connection. How many more connections must we sever before we unify as a single chord of strength? Unity is our hidden greatness, not division. There is no bubble to hide behind. We see each other, but with blind eyes, switching between tunnel vision and opaque aloofness. Look in my eyes. I see in yours. I see beyond yours and hold in our gaze a connected universe bound through the thread of all of our stories. You are not another silhouette turned on its two dimensional side. You are my shadow and my mirror. And I reflect you. We become us and all lines bleed into each other. We can become a single consciousness with purpose if only we choose to. This is the choice…

Continue to see you as you and I as I

Or finally see that we are we.

It doesn’t seem to really be a choice. Does it?

– Rabbit

Superman – We’re All We’ve Got

superman_forever_alex_ross_by_kyl_el7-d42cb7g

[Fair warning. This is a super geeky, yet, philosophical post.]

Today, let’s just talk about Superman. You mean I’m not going to post about BOX or ending human trafficking? That’s right. It’s all about Superman right now.

You might be thinking, uh, dude, that’s totally random.

Well, I think, uh, dude, it’s totally not.

I think about Superman quite a bit. I’m not joking. To me, he is not merely a comic book superhero or television/film icon. He represents a philosophical conundrum to ponder. Sure, it would be cool to possess all of his myriad of super powers: flight, nigh invincibility, heat vision, super speed, etc. However, this isn’t what intrigues me about this character. I’ll get back to this.

A few months ago, I remember overhearing a rather geeky conversation about who was more fascinating and interesting as a comic book icon: Batman or Superman. The originator of the conversation didn’t think twice, completely dismissed Superman and chose Batman for some of the following reasons:

– Superman is one-dimensional and not very complex. Not much was expounded on this point.

– Batman is a mere mortal who must rely on his wits and gadgets. Where does he get those wonderful toys?

– Batman is psychologically complex. He’s a much darker and interesting character.

– Batman’s rogues gallery is far more fascinating: The Joker, as an example

– Batman is more relatable at a human level.

Now, I’ve heard all of these fanboy arguments before and as I was listening to this guy go on and on, I realized no one was actually presenting a rebuttal and talking about Superman. I didn’t get into the mix of the conversation, but I did think about what he said about Superman being one-dimensional. I could see his point. Superman is this nigh invulnerable alien who hides amongst the humans with the flimsiest of secret identities. He has a myriad of deus ex machina-esque super powers at his disposal. Most of the villains he fights have to be written to such extremes to be able to match his power level. There are exceptions. Namely, Lex Luthor. And it’s Lex Luthor who perfectly unveils how complex Superman actually is in All-Star Superman and gets to the source of what intrigues me about the Man of Steel.

In the comic, Lex takes a serum that grants him the same powers as Superman. He and the Man of Steel duel. Eventually, Superman is able to cause Lex’s powers to fade. As they fade, Lex has a profound realization:

lex-luthor-all-star-superman

It is this simple one frame panel that encapsulates everything that makes Superman incredibly complex at a higher consciousness level than any other comic book character ever written. Superman, in his infinite wisdom, sees us humans for the potential that we possess and the interconnected and interdependent state that we so casually dismiss on a daily basis. He fights to show us that we can transcend the muddle of our iniquities and strive to become greater than we are now. He carries this burden without question and lives a life of pure integrity and honor. He is the reverse mirror to us; a paragon of virtue. And it is because of this that he is also a tragic figure because we fail him at an existential level; his adopted family. He could easily turn his powers against us and rule the world. Yet, he continues to fight for our very souls and serve as a shining example of humility. This is the complex core of Superman that gets lost sometimes in the modern renditions of him.

This is why I think about Superman so much. At his existential core, he represents all that we can strive to be: tolerant and accepting, patient, virtuous, living with integrity, understanding, compassionate, wise, honorable, giving, humble. He sees us for what we are and the inevitable conclusion for us, in a world without real superheroes is…

To quote Lex, “…we’re all we’ve got.”

– The Rabbit of Steel