10 Cats Who Think You Should Care About Human Trafficking

emporer cat

10 Serious Cats You Should Listen To

I ponder quite a bit about why we should all think and care about the issue of human trafficking and what we can do to help solve it. I’m not alone in this. I was recently approached by the Emporer of Catkind and he expressed concern that not enough of us care about this globally systemic issue. He has issued an edict for us to care. Otherwise, the following generals of the Schmiao Army will unleash their claws of eternal pain on us. I present to you their message to us. We should listen.

box cat

1 – General Boxez is not happy that it must rise from his comfortable slumber in his square lair to make sure you are thinking about the fact that human trafficking generates at a minimum $30 Billion per year as the 2nd most prolific illegal global trade.

sad kitten

2 – General Kittenz is sad that you have not paid attention to the 300,000 children who are at risk of being trafficked in the US alone. 

needz cat

3 – General MEOW is concerned that you not hearing his lesson on how human trafficking is not a phenomenon limited to Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia. It is happening in the very US cities that you live in. 

judge cat

4 – General Unimprezzed is judging your complacency on learning about 20 things you can do about human trafficking.

squint kitten

5 – General Cutez is not amused that you do not know that in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation eradicating slavery, yet more than one million people are enslaved in the U.S. today.

MF  cat

6 – General MF Doomz really feels that you think the fact that 76% of transactions for sex with underage girls are conducted via the internet is just a motherfucking game.

kitten 1

7 – General Aztonished also can’t believe that you don’t care that approximately 80 per cent of trafficked victims are women and girls, and up to 50% are minors.

mom and kitten

8 – General Mommyz wishes that we humans would help the 55% of the girls living on the streets that are engaged in sexual slavery.

interspecies cat

9 – General Open Armz seeks to encourage you to become more aware that 600,000-800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year.

bliss kittens

10 – General Cuddlez knows that if we all started thinking more about how we can get involved in ending human trafficking and modern day slavery then we can all spend more time united in cuddles.

Let us hope that we all pay heed to the message of the Schmiao Army and do our best to fight human trafficking. Otherwise, I shudder to think of the consequences. I personally would not like to has cheezeburger everyday.

– I Can Has Rabbit

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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:

Life Astounding In All Its Misery And Glory – A Rainy Stream

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Poor bird. That would pretty much be my predicament today. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to take a short coastal camping excursion this week without checking the weather. Good job, me. At least I found a cafe to work on BOX. To commemorate this prodigious lapse in judgment, I present to you my rainy day stream of consciousness:

Fade to Black water with an apropos guitar solo, thwomp in the brainstem and then its over and I stare uselessly out there, out there where it’s the world serving me a wet lozenge, giving me a dirty slurp and telling me to get back into my red cocoon, to hell with that, I want to be out there in the muck because out there is life astounding in all its cold misery and glory, huddle away if that serves you best, but for me I rest easy in H2Oliness, bring me drenched hair and wildness, bring me winds to suffer against and I’ll show you how to stand in defiance, forget me not world when I get washed away in my stubbornness, the cliff calls, the cliff says jump ahoy and see if you can fly to the next life, there is no down, just the creep in that hole you call a bosom.

– Drenched Rabbit

Importance Of The Weave

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A late Tuesday post is better than no post. Sorry for the delay. My laptop decided to fall out of love with me and obliterated my precious hard drive. She’s a feisty one. At least, I have trusty ol’ PC to fall back on. I’m winking at you, dear PC.

Anyways, I’ve been spending  most of my time the past few weeks creating story and music for the game I’m building with my team at imagiLabs. We’re creating something unique for children that challenges the traditional stories that have been told over the years, starting with The Three Little Pigs. In it, we find that the big bad wolf is a misguided and misundertood soul who only wants acceptance into the pig family. He is manipulated by darker forces and the story centers around his redemption. The episode is part of a larger story of struggle to maintain vibrancy and balance in our world through storytelling. It’s been a fun process and has me thinking about the importance of everyone’s stories.

In 2012, I started thewrenproject blog to  explore the stories of others and myself. My mission was to dispel the idea that being interesting is subjective and that if we take the time to dig deeper, we find that everyone has a deeper story to tell. I also wanted to leave behind something good for the world to see. Over the last couple of years, the blog has evolved, but it is still, at its essence, part of my continued story.

I occasionally think to myself that I want to discontinue the blog and ocntinue on my exploration of living off the grid. I will probably eventually do this, but for now, I still provide a mirror into my existence. Perhaps, you see reflections of yourself in me and I, you. Perhaps, we are completely far apart from each others way of living and thinking. Either way, I know that we are interconnected and important to each other.

Let us continue to celebrate each other’s interwoven stories and unlock each other’s boxes.

– Tell Tale Rabbit

Are You Out There Mom And Dad?

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I talk about adult sex trafficking quite a bit. However, there is another side to the human trafficking issue and that is global child trafficking.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked every year. This is in addition to the children who are already being trafficked or exploited in the system. This is not contained to any specific region, but is a systemic, worldwide problem. Children are trafficked for the following reasons:

– Forced Labor: According to Unicef, most recent data puts the number of children used for forced labor at approximately 150 million. 60% of that number is estimated to be in the agriculture trade.

– Sexual Exploitation: The ILO and Unicef estimate the number of children used in sex trafficking is at 1.8 million – 2 million, the majority being girls.

– Armed Forces: Tens of thousands of girls and boys are being exploited by armed forces in at least 17 countries. They are used in the following ways: as warriors in direct hostilities, as messengers/spies or as propaganda.

– Drug Trade: Children abducted into the drug trade are used as couriers or dealers.  They are at high risk of becoming addicted, criminally prosecuted and engaging in violence, especially murder.

– Begging Schemes: Exact data on child begging schemes is unclear, but the number of children used in begging schemes is at an estimated range of 600,000 – 1.5 million. Child beggars conscripted through 3rd parties are at risk of the act of maiming to increase profits. A child that has been maimed can generate as much as 3x more profits than one who is not.

– Child Exchange: This occurs in multiple fashions: families desperate for money selling their children for adoption, overseas adoption of abducted children , ‘re-homing’ of adopted kids by adoptive parents who can’t handle the adopted child most of the time due to psychological trauma the child has experienced from being passed around from home to home.

– Sales Motivated by Cash: Most of the issues mentioned above are motivated by cash in one form or another.

None of these reasons for child trafficking is acceptable. I know it’s a complicated matter. The human trafficking industry is very good at staying clandestine and it is very hard to prosecute traffickers. However, it is no less important for us to stay ever vigilant and aware of what is happening out there behind closed doors. If you don’t think this happens in our own backyard here in America, I present a list of countries, in no particular order, guilty of the offense of human trafficking:

United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Burma, Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia, Russia, North Korea, Romania, Zimbabwe, Angola, Uganda, Ghana, Zambia, Trinidad and Tobago, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa, Chile, Poland, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, the Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, the Maldives, Oman, and Qatar.

It is my hope that the more people who become educated on the human trafficking issue, the more people will talk about it openly and help bring the issue out of the shadows. How can we consider ourselves an enlightened society if we ignore this hidden travesty?

Please click the following link to Polaris Project if you are a victim or you know someone who may be a victim of human trafficking.

http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/national-human-trafficking-hotline/report-a-tip

You can also call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree(233733).  Hotline Call Specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to take reports from anywhere in the country related to potential trafficking victims, suspicious behaviors, and/or locations where trafficking is suspected to occur. All reports are confidential. Interpreters are available.

– Parental Rabbit

Super Bowl Retraction

mistakes

Today I’m making my first retraction of a post I made last week concerning human trafficking and its relation to large sporting events. Over the past year or so, I’ve been conducting a great deal of research on human trafficking and how to educate the public about it, especially my fellow men. Recently, I started running across articles regarding the Super Bowl and how it is the biggest day of human trafficking in the US. It all sounded plausible, so I posted about it. Then the logical deductive reasoning part of my brain kicked in and I did some further investigation. I found that I was overeager in making the connection between the two and may have actually fed into the myth which does more damage in the long run. Today, I make my first emphatic apology and seek to correct this myth.

There is a great paper by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women that helps dispel this myth. It is located here: GAATW Paper. It is a very concise and long paper, but at the end it also elegantly sums up the concerns and dangers around perpetuating false information and myths even if those myths are surrounded by good intentions. Per the GAATW Paper:

“As a global anti-trafficking organization, GAATW is concerned that international sporting events are being linked with increases in trafficking for prostitution, without evidence. This has been promoted most heavily by prostitution abolitionist groups, who argue that large numbers of men automatically results in a greater demand for commercial sex which can only be met through trafficking women into prostitution.

As a result, massive amounts of resources, law enforcement, media publicity and government attention have been channelled to address this supposed risk, yet all the attention and resources have failed to turn up any compelling evidence that large sporting events increase trafficking for prostitution. Yet the idea still captures governments’ and media attention, for several reasons, including its utility to frame prostitution abolitionist and/or anti-migrant sentiments in a more humanitarian guise. Human trafficking is a very serious human rights violation that demands a sustained and holistic response based on real evidence. One of our concerns has been that valuable resources and public momentum are being channelled towards a falsely constructed issue, resources that are otherwise very needed to genuinely tackle trafficking.

Another concern is that linking trafficking and sex work in this way has resulted in ‘collateral damage’, that is negatively impacting some of the groups who are affected by anti-trafficking policies, particularly sex workers. For instance, law enforcement and government officials who propose crackdowns and further restrictions on migrants and women in sex work, in an effort to protect…..migrants and women in sex work.

Fortunately, more stakeholders are increasingly becoming aware that there is no evidence to support the claim that large sporting events and trafficking for prostitution are linked. During previous sporting events, sex workers rights organizations in particular have worked hard to insert an evidence-based approach and rights-based approach into anti-trafficking discussions.

We hope the information in this guide has helped readers to critically evaluate the messages and information they receive about trafficking and sporting events. It’s unlikely that short-term hype can fuel long-term efforts, but there are ways for people to effectively engage in anti-trafficking – not as ‘saviours’, but as allies.”

Again, I apologize for any misleading information I may have perpetuated in my last post. I have fully retracted the post and in the future will be more careful about the information I feed into the world. In the end, we must all serve the fight against human trafficking to the best of our abilities. One of those ways is to talk sensibly about the situation instead of feeding into sensationalized stories and perpetuating false myths.

– True Rabbit

Please do not personally interfere if you are a witness to signs of possible sex trafficking as this can put you in physical harm’s way. Instead, you can either notify local authorities or call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree(233733). Hotline Call Specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to take reports from anywhere in the country related to potential trafficking victims, suspicious behaviors, and/or locations where trafficking is suspected to occur. All reports are confidential. Interpreters are available.

Please click the following link to Polaris Project if you are a victim or you know someone who may be a victim of human trafficking.

http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/national-human-trafficking-hotline/report-a-tip

Calling All Men

Stadium E

This week, I’ve taken some reflective time away from all the noise in my life to think upon the myriad of projects I’m working on:

– An educational online/offline game I’m building with my fantastic new team at imagiLabs.

– My book, BOX, which I’ve fallen way behind on. Grrrr.

– An experimental social project with the homeless in my area to help keep them intellectually engaged during the day.

– A social project to educate men on ending human sex trafficking.

It’s this last one that I’ve spent more time thinking about. Human sex trafficking is a global human rights issue. Those who seek to perpetuate it, do so by keeping the activity clandestine and hidden from the public eye. Those who seek to end it, like myself, do so by exposing their atrocious activities and educating the public. Human trafficking is the 2nd largest illegal trade behind drug trafficking. At last count, it is a $32 Billion/year industry. Let me repeat that again.

Human trafficking is a $32 Billion/year industry. And growing.

This isn’t contained to certain regions. It is a globally systemic problem and happens right here in our backyard. In the US, the following cities are major trafficking hubs: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York, …the list is large.

One of my goals this year is to help implement an educational program specifically targeted at boys and men to help encourage healthy views on women and sexuality. It is high time we brought this conversation between us men out into the open. We can no longer afford to joke around behind closed doors or think that humorous innuendo towards prostitution, rape or women brutality is acceptable. We, as men, hold a distinct responsibility in helping to end human sex trafficking and women brutality. I would like to see more men involved in this fight. A majority of people working to end human trafficking are women. This lopsidedness serves as a reflection for how we as men think about, or not think about, human sex trafficking.

Humanity is the greatest conscious anomaly the planet has ever seen. We hold within us all the ability to transcend our primal nature and work towards an enlightened and courageous global society. My call is to my fellow men to join me in my fight against human trafficking and sex slavery.

– Dedicated Male Rabbit

There are a number of organizations fighting the good fight. Wikipedia has compiled a pretty comprehensive list here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_organizations_opposing_human_trafficking

I personally follow the work of the following organizations:

Misssey.org

NotForSaleCampaign.org

Love146.org

PolarisProject.org

CATWInternational.org (Coalition Against Trafficking in Women)

GAATW.org (Global Alliance Against Trafficking Women)

Somaly.org (Somaly Mam Foundation)

NomiNetwork.org

? Everything Why ? – 10 Contrarian Statements and Questions

Question-everything

[This will be my first post of 2014 and I will introduce it without much fanfare as this keeps me in a consistent mindset. Besides, I’m asian and we get our own special celebration…which I will also treat without much fanfare :)]

I find the above photo amusing. There is balance and wisdom in the contradiction: Question everything/Why question anything? I pose this conundrum to myself all the time. My curious disposition makes me a natural contrarian. I find balance in being a contrarian when applied judiciously. I also find being a contrarian exhausting sometimes. When I was in my teens and twenties, I used to debate and question everything. Sometimes for no apparent reason but just to pose a contrarian view to something. I was a rebel with too many causes. Eventually, I matured and realized this was a complete waste of time not only on my part but I was also wasting the time of others. I’ve become more selective in the intellectual battles I wage. It’s about managing my own bandwidth and respecting the bandwidth of others. Questions are spectacular. Questions are the conundrums themselves.

Today, I’m playing contrarian and mulling over contradictions in life. Without further ado, here are my 10 Contrarian Statements and Questions for the world:

1 – Stop saying you want to change the world. What world do you want to change it to?

2 – It seems the term God is used primarily to quantify/qualify and to truncate down something which we can’t possibly understand in our current human minds. Can we just use the term The Great Fucking Awesome Unknown Shit Out There (TGFAUSOT)?

3 – The world may be a simulation. When can I learn kung fu and fly a helicopter?

4 – Playing the contrarian can be a useful dialectic exercise, but know when you’ve gone too far. Ask yourself, am I being an asshole right now?

5 – Make sure you truly know what you’re talking about before making an absolute statement. Have you explored all the possible holes in your theory?

6 – Have convictions you will die for. Have you thought your convictions all the way through? (see 5 above)

7 – You don’t have to exercise the economic utility of judgement. Have you ever considered letting go and being more non-judgmental?

8 – Make sure you don’t ask questions that undermine your own self-confidence. Are you challenging yourself or putting yourself down?

9 – Don’t think you know what mindfulness is just because you have started meditating. Do you know that being mindful takes a lifetime to cultivate?

10 – The sky is a beautiful thing. Why are we constantly trying to block it out with our high rise cities?

– Contrarian Rabbit

With Love There Is No Moderation – 10 Guidelines to Love

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Thread the middle way. This is a mantra I typically espouse and live by. However, I do believe in exceptions when it comes to loving someone in a relationship. I choose to love without moderation. Loving without moderation means that I may open myself up to great potential pain. However, I understand that being able to feel that pain is what gives love its fire. It fuels understanding of a joy that is undiminished or muted. The beauty of love is that within these extremes lies balance of joy. There is a difference between loving without moderation and seeking out manic love experiences. The former comes from a deep understanding of love. The latter is destructive and is typically born from addictive habits.

The following are some of the guidelines of love that I live by:

1. Love deeply. Don’t be afraid to go to those emotional centers that scare you. Let those walls down. Love is frightening, yet liberating. You will never understand its true power if you love with constraint and fear.

2. Love wisely. Loving deeply doesn’t mean you should give your love foolishly. Learn to recognize any destructive patterns you have had in the past when it comes to choosing partners. This may also mean to recognize any dissonance you bring to the table. Work on loving from a place of purity and clarity. Sowing the right seeds are critical.

3. Don’t hold anything back. Bend every rule you have for yourself that has ever held you back from truly loving someone. The irony is that those rules and walls that you have created in order to protect yourself hold you back from realizing love’s true potential.

4. Love is selfless. Living in love can unlock your utmost potential as a human being when it is given selflessly without personal gain. You may think that when giving love it must be reciprocated. However, this disrupts the natural flow of loving someone.

5. Love unconditionally. If you find yourself seeking quid pro quo, then there may be a flaw in communication within the relationship or you may be with someone who is holding themselves back. Recognize either of these two and address them directly instead of developing conditional love dissonance.

6. Love with a blank slate. Many of us will take on different lovers throughout our lives. Learn to recognize that each time you love it is unique to that singular experience and not fit for comparison. Each experience we have can teach us the different degrees and meanings of love. There is no need to make comparisons or cherry pick aspects from different relationships. Look for the best love in each experience and build upon the greatness that you have learned over time. Concurrently, you may have chosen to only experience love with one person your entire life. If you feel this person is your soul mate, then do not let doubt enter your mind. Wondering what else there is will lead nowhere but towards dissolution of the relationship.

7. Don’t fear emotional pain. This is akin to my 3rd rule of not holding back. Loving from a place of fear and doubt is unhealthy. I would much rather have known emotional pain than not have known love. Being afraid of pain is also akin to being afraid of failure. However, you fail before you ever begin.

8. Don’t mistake obsession or infatuation for love. Many of us make this mistake. We grow enamored by the idea of a person or become unhealthily fixated upon a person. It may be physical attributes or behavior attributes that we obsess over. This is not love. It is us seeing a partial picture of someone and thinking this fulfills the criteria of love.

9. Maintain independence. Maintaining ones own independence in a relationship is critical to not following a path of co-dependence when loving someone. I am a sucker for the romantic notion of not being able to live without the other half of your soul or the person you have given all of your love to if it is truly a great romance. There is a difference between saying, “I can’t live without…” vs “I can’t function without…” Though, even the former can straddle co-dependent territory. No matter what romantic notions I have, I still maintain my own independence in order to strike a balance with the person I love. The last thing I want is for my partner to feel they are critical to my well being and that I can’t take care of myself.

10. Love yourself. This may be the most important rule I have for myself. How can you give love if you cannot love even yourself? What you bring to the table is critical and if you come from a damaged state then you bring that damage to the love you have for someone else. You will try to fill the void of love for yourself with someone else. This is neither fair to the other person nor healthy for yourself.

These are some of the guidelines I have discovered in my explorations of love within the context of a relationship. Feel free to add to this list and let me know what guidelines you live by. I wish you all the love in the world!

– Loving Rabbit

Flightless Bird – 24

flightless bird

Forgive me if this post seems cryptic. My headspace is unclear as I try and source out what the universe is trying to tell me. For once, I’m caught in my own BOX. Perhaps it is best if I just stream my thoughts instead of making any cohesive sense of it all:

24 you haunt me as an hourglass breaking sand upon my eyes, you ask for sixth sense, balance, yet I tear at the seams and the scraggly edges are poking through from where I had them folded, give me a kiss on the the forehead to hush, give me some spite so at least I know you were not illusion bursting at me to believe, wild eyes, wild growl, stuck in me a spike on the loom where my heart dwells in dark places, it was the Lover asking me to gaze into your eyes, it was true, it was right and still is, but Time is sour and old and angry with me, he salts his hand and places it upon my chest and in his best interest tries to wither and break, I am unbreakable, I do not sour, but I’m misplaced, stuffed into a one buttoned bear stuffed in a dusty corner stuffed in an attic with no lamp or window to breathe free air, there to wait for when it is time to have my belly rubbed against her head and comfort her weeping heart…my flightless bird.