Freedom Challenged

camus

I recently gave a talk on human trafficking and the concept of freedom in the modern age. The following is a truncated version of that talk:

The French philosopher, Albert Camus, once wrote, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

That is an epic statement. How many of us truly know what that statement means?

You cannot truly understand the freedom you have unless you have been tested or are willing to test yourself. And to test yourself is an experiment in picking worthwhile and meaningful fights. To disrupt. To do and build things that disrupt for the greater good. To be unafraid to test the very fabric of being and sometimes taking a stand against the status quo and saying, “No”, no matter the consequences. Sometimes you will stand alone in this, but hopefully others stand with you. And, yes. Sometimes this means looking yourself in the mirror and issuing a direct challenge to yourself. It’s not easy to do. Most shy away.

However, what I just described is, in fact, a luxury. To have the choice to challenge and test oneself is a luxury.

For those who are mired in modern day slavery through human trafficking, to fight for their very right to exist is not a luxury. Everyday, every aspect of their existence is constantly under siege by the ones who seek to exploit and enslave them. They wake every morning knowing that they face incredible suffering as a slave worker or sexual slave to the most despicable of people. They know that at any moment their bodies and minds will be pushed beyond the point of exhaustion. To the point of their spirits, minds, and bodies breaking. If any one of them were to give out on any given day and pass on from this mortal coil, there will be zero fanfare or acknowledgement that they ever existed. That they mattered. They will most likely be dumped into a ditch in some nondescript, lonely place and another will take their place. For those lucky enough to make it through each day and crawl exhausted into bed, they go to sleep knowing that only the same cycle of pain waits for them in the morning.

To give you a better idea of what this looks like. Imagine you are an 8 year old child. You have your entire future ahead of you. You don’t live in lavish luxury, but that doesn’t matter to you. You just want to play, go to school, do the things that kids do, and be loved by your family. One day a stranger shows up in a van and asks to speak with your father and mother. It is a very serious meeting and your parents look frightened. At the end of the meeting, the stranger hands over a stack of cash to your parents. He then approaches you, takes you firmly by the hand, and leads you away. You pass by your parents who say to you this stranger is now your family. They may be in tears or they may be ambivalent. You don’t know what is happening, but you do know one thing. This stranger is not your family.

From the moment the stranger takes you into his car, you are threatened with physical violence if you don’t behave and do what he says. He states that you are now his property and that you will do whatever it is he tells you to do. You may kick and scream or you may sit in frightened silence. Either way, you know your life is about to turn upside down. You are being trafficked into slavery.

You may end up in some strange land mining in dangerous conditions for the silicon minerals that make up our technological gadgets or you may end up slaving away in cocoa fields picking beans for the morning coffee that we drink or you may end up in a sweat shop somewhere sewing the fancy garments that we wear. You will never enjoy the things you help make. You will be told that you must work to pay off your master’s debt. He paid for you, so you must pay him back. You will earn only 10 to 25 cents per day and never see any of it for yourself or even be able to grasp that you will never actually be able to pay off your debt to your master. You will toil away with the hope that you will one day be freed if you work hard enough, that it is possible. It is not.

If you don’t end up a slave laborer somewhere, then you face a life of sexual servitude. You will be forced to have sex with total strangers. Sometimes as much as 30 times a day whether you are a boy or a girl. Your innocence completely lost to the ravages of human decrepitude.

This is your new life and you will most likely die between the ages of 15 – 18.

What I just described is the stark reality of children who are sold into slavery by families living in impoverished regions. Many are sold willingly by their families or outright abducted. Adults are equally at risk. When a person is faced with few economic choices they may find themselves coerced into slavery situations or they may become low level traffickers themselves out of desperation. And don’t think for one second that this is just a foreign issue. It is globally systemic and has reached the soil of every nation. These people fight for their very right to exist. And if they make it out the other side, they are the ones who’s very existence is an act of rebellion. They have been tested and survived.

Here in America, we enjoy many freedoms that we take for granted: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of choice, among others. What we do with these freedoms will continually define us and determine if we truly become a free peoples. Do we overly concern ourselves with obtaining these personal freedoms at the expense of others? Do we end up using these freedoms that we take for granted to oppress others? Or do we insure that those around us are able to enjoy the same freedoms?

My personal conclusion is that the only true freedom is the ability to free others. By doing so, you confront your very own concepts of freedom and fight for the rights of everyone to exist freely. This fight will test your resolve in an unfree world.

There are many among you who consider yourselves peaceful healers and that is a wonderful thing. You facilitate the healing processes of the body and the mind. The concept of fighting is often times antithetical to your thinking. However, I ask, in an ironic way, to stop fighting that notion. Our bodies and minds are constantly under attack, be it by mental, spiritual, and social pressures or pathogens of the body. When we heal, we are fighting back. As healers, you facilitate this process of the body’s and mind’s ability to fight back. And in order to heal the world, you must become a fighter in your own respect. You must become the antibodies that society needs.

Do not just be concerned with healing what you see or feel before you. You must dig deeper into societies woes and demand healing justice for those who are invisible and do not have a voice. You must become healing warriors and fight for the right of all to exist freely. True healing is a journey in struggle. It is a test.

Of course, you are free to believe you don’t owe anyone anything. And that no one owes you anything. However, if we are to talk about creating a better and free world, a more compassionate and progressive world, then you and I owe everyone everything.

I don’t believe this sound unreasonable. Let us not save the world or change the world, but free the world. I ask that you all rise up to face this challenge for we are not yet all free. In this grand experiment in freedom, we must finish what we have begun.

Always fight on. Never settle. Live so that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

“Damned is the man who abandons himself.”
These words show that the worse the situation is,
never should a man consider it lost. – The Conditioned

– Rebel Rabbit

Advertisements

I’m Tired, I’m Furious

Tired

Into And Out Of The Gates Of Apathy

Today I’m tired. I’m tired of thinking about ways to improve the world around me. I’m tired of trying to solve problems that are too big for me to solve. I’m tired of having compassion for people who only take and grind others through the mechanical gears of their trappings. I’m tired of standing up for justice and fairness and hopes and dreams. I’m tired of feeling alone and empty in a world gone mad with no place for the odd puzzle piece that is me. I’m tired of talking about finding happiness when it takes those willing to be unhappy to affect the burden of change. I’m tired of those who cannot see the difference between maintaining joy and chasing happiness. I’m tired of those who cannot see beyond their small minds and turn down the possibilities of a greater world in order to fit the world to their smallness.

I want to turn inwards and focus only on making my own life better. I want to chase that money and material wealth and boring comforts that will numb my mind to higher modes of thinking. I want to ignore the multitudes of people around me and shut down into a place more than a miles length away from the teeming hive mind. I want to be away from the yapping and idiotic conversations those around me hold with their little toy dog yapping ways. I want to break the faces of superficiality staring my way with their false smiles and indoctrinated pre-judgements. I want to be able to yell “Silence!” and have the world comply for once, so that the lips that move at a million miles a second shutter tight and ears that are filled with so much waxen filth clear out for just a moment to hear the crystal tine that tries to ring truth.

I want. I want. I want.

And then I realize how my wants make me just like them. Small in scope. Selfish in desire without a care for letting that desire go for greater living. Greater breathing. And then I realize that the fury that I thought was snuffed out was only softly smoldering, waiting to find a seam in my blanket of exhaustion. That blanket that is only a thin veil woven from desperation and sorrow and self pity. It burns away so quickly and I once again become that indomitable wrath that is inexplicably misunderstood as wild anger, but it is not. It is my tireless wellspring from which I draw to combat the iniquities of the world. It is the inner provocation that provides me with the impetus to defy. Anger! Defiance! Rebellion!

I have no more time for small talk. I have no time for the emotionally muted and stunted throngs. I am too busy moving forward to look back and see if you are still sitting there sipping your melancholic cocktail and eating your foodie heart out. When you are finished and wiping your mouth I will be up that hill sprinting to another world. That world over the horizon that is fair and just and teeming with the joys of peoples unleashed from their caged wants and desires to tap into an unbounded potential. I see it now. That flag waving for our right to peer with full sight, to hear with pure lucidity, to smell and taste the promise of inner freedom, beholden to no king or queen or president or congress who suffocates others for power. I will take that flag and raise it high above you lower masses and turn that elite pyramid upside down, burying the point deep under ground and all that will remain is a flat foundation with equal footing waiting for us to build that very world that sits on the edge of our minds, yet still just eludes us.

That is my anger. My anger is furious hope.

Fuck being tired.

– Rebel Rabbit

Non-Proliferation

20131005-220448.jpg
I’ve recently engaged in some interesting conversations around the subject of prostitution and human trafficking. Most of it has revolved around the subject of legalizing prostitution. It’s a tricky and delicate subject because most people that I talk to are used to viewing prostitution in a certain light. Namely, the fatalistic view that it’s here to stay and that we should make it legal worldwide. I couldn’t disagree more.

I am not opposed to protecting sex workers. Legalization would provide certain protections and benefits accorded to legitimate employment. They would face less prosecution from police and have access to legal and governmental oversight. I do believe that most people who are for legalization of prostitution have good intentions. However, I have found through conversation that these good intentions tend to be built from a foundation of fatalism and defeatist attitudes. The thought is that it is too big to fight and demand won’t go away so why not just incorporate it into legal society. I can appreciate this perspective, but it is sorely lacking in an informed position on the subject of prostitution and the link to human trafficking and sex slavery.

The legalization position is a position of continuation. I hold the position of non-proliferation. There is more and more data coming to light that in places where prostitution is legal human trafficking is on the rise to meet demand. This is disturbing on many levels. The most staggering number to keep in mind is that over 92% of sex workers have entered the trade involuntarily at young ages that are unacceptable and criminal. They have either been abducted, sold into service by family, or duped and coerced into indentured sex servitude. They have faced a life of drugs and violence from their pimps and clients. Very few prostitutes are voluntary adults.

Though legalization could theoretically improve the lives of current sex workers it hardly addresses the issue of how these sex workers find themselves in this position in the first place.

Some argue that legalization would create transparency in the trade and that traffickers and pimps would have to move their business out of the shadows. I will simply cry bullshit on this. The reason the trade is clandestine is because of the severity of human atrocities that are committed to young women and men at tender ages. Legalization of prostitution would do nothing to change the clandestine nature of how sex workers enter the trade. If anything, it may exacerbate the situation by creating more demand thereby increasing the ongoing shadow practices of abduction and indentured sex servitude.

I should address what kind of demand we are talking about here. It’s not just run of the mill ‘normal’ sex requests. Most of the men who buy sex are looking to fulfill ugly sexual fantasies such as rape scenarios, child molestation, violent acts, etc. Yes, there are those who are only interested in conventional sex, but their needs are hardly a good enough reason to provide legal prostitution. My stance is that we need to become more educated and open with our sexuality so that we may become more in command of our sexual behavior instead of giving in to primal instincts on a whim out of convenience.

As human beings, we are the single greatest evolutionary anomaly the earth has ever seen. As a species, we are singularly aware at higher levels of consciousness than most other creatures on the planet. Because of this we have the ability to overcome and transcend the primitive behavior that is inherent in each of us. We must do better. We must live as greater beings. It is only in this way that we should be acknowledging the criminal issue of human trafficking and forced prostitution.

Nothing else matters if at the end of the day we do not become greater as a species.

– Defiant Rabbit