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

 

 

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Inspiration Lost, Inspiration Gained

lost and gained
Let go from everything you think you know about creativity and inspiration. There are no rules. Inspiration is everywhere. It’s in the breath we take everyday. It’s in the gloom of a rainy day sky, or the warmth of a sunburnt day. It’s in the street gutter that we seldom look in and in the dirty nooks and crannies of a dusty room. It’s in the simplicity of a baby’s smile and in the wrinkles of an ancient hand. It’s in the orange you hold and smell before you peel it and in the sweet juice after you take your first bite. It’s in the rotting, discarded fish at the dockside filling the air with its pungent odor. It’s even in those moments when we aren’t trying and feeling the numbing chill of an indifferent world. Touch, feel, sight, smell, aural…everything submits to inspiration. If you ever feel uninspired, then perhaps you have closed yourself off to it and think that it is uni-directional from specific places. Be in every moment and experience. Inspiration is always reaching out its undiscriminating hands to touch you.

Inspiration-revisited

I’ve always known inspiration. Seldom do I have any writer’s block. In fact, I have the opposite issue: too much to feel and say. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day for me to sit still and create art before I get whisked away by something else that intrigues me. I have to sometimes impose a discipline bubble around me in order to finish anything.

In the past few years, I have found deep inspiration in a great deal of sorrow that lives in my heart. I’ve written some fantastically sad songs and become something of a sad song specialist. Trust me. I’m very good at making people cry. Not sure if I’m actually proud of that 😉 It’s also been a driving force in some of the dreams I’ve had for the book that I’m writing, BOX. Profound sorrow is an intriguing place to write from because the exploration of it requires a person to become very comfortable with darkness. Of course, it can be exhausting to be inspired from this direction and I’ve worked hard to balance this out. I actually took something of a 3 year sabbatical from music and performance because I was fatigued from writing sad songs all the time. I think by now I’ve lived in sorrow enough to be able to let most of it go. I’ve created some of my best work in this space and it’s time to move in another direction.

let it in

Thankfully, I haven’t struggled hard to find a different kind of inspiration. I have spent the past two years as a conduit for the story of others and have found great beauty and strength in those around me. People never stop astounding me with their endless capacity for invention and creativity, humility, ego, frailty, strength, darkness, glory…our spectrum is abundant and fathomless. People are capable of such great change and also profound stubbornness. It all surprises me constantly.

I am also deeply inspired by the love we are capable of. For a long time, I considered myself incapable of allowing myself to receive love. I closed myself off and became somewhat of a one man island. Being a one man island can be incredibly liberating. I found a way to live a type of independence most people spend a lifetime searching for. I became a fearless juggernaut of advocacy for compassionate and non-judgmental living because I see the world for what it is: an interdependent mass of collected individuals. It became easy to fluidly move about without restraint, without ties to anywhere and without anything holding me back. However, being a one man island can be an isolated existence. Even though I am very comfortable with my solitude and my own skin, I do still need my connection to humanity…and to love. It’s easy for me to give love, but very hard for me to allow myself to receive it. There are few things in the world that can instill fear in me and yet, I fear myself the most. I fear my capacity to reach into the coldest parts of my heart and race towards an existence of pursuing oblivion.

To remedy this, I have had to slowly find a way to allow myself to be loved. Inch by inch, I have come back into the world and it gives me a new set of inspiration to draw from. I have even allowed myself to have wonderful intimate relationships, living in all of their passionate insanity instead of shying away from it all.  A great philosophical mind and friend of mine, Alexandros Pagidas (visit his site: Idealism in Practice), said to me once that men like us carry the capacity to fall into crazy, compromising love, not because we are self-destructively uninhibited, but, simply put, because we can handle it. Whereas, most people, are too careful with loving. We carry the strength to deal with love’s roller coaster and he encouraged me to come back to that strength and live fully in it. It has been most inspiring to remember that I have this within me and I thank him for this reminder, for it has allowed me to begin creating art from an even more inspiring direction. In this way, I am ever unlocking my own box and hopefully, I can serve as an instrument for you to unlock your own box, also.

box still good version

I leave you with the lyrics to a new song I will be performing secretly tonight somewhere in San Francisco.

Aria

To think I almost left the arms of the city…in the cold
To think the city was trying its best …to strike me down
To think there was only one way that I saw…around it all
To think I would have almost never touched you…before I crawled

Away from you
I almost found myself away from you
I’m ashamed to say

To think that every time I looked outside I only saw…my chilled heart
To think that everyday I thought that this…is all there was
To think that in a strange way the stars above couldn’t…bless this silly boy
To think that at the center of it all…stood the finest light

Away from you
I almost found myself away from
I’m ashamed to say

Oh, Aria
Sitting there in perfect divinity
Oh, Aria
How could I foolishly think that you were someplace else
Oh, Aria
Look at you. Love’s most simplicity
Oh, Aria
And I will never again go someplace else

– Inspired Rabbit