[ From the Archives of 365 ]
“My goal is to inspire those who have chosen mediocrity out of fear to reach beyond themselves…way past their comfort zone into a life of adventure and meaning.”
The social network has made the world a much smaller planet. Hold that thought for later, but for now, I’m going to give you a little confession. Yes, I’ll admit it, even though I remember the days of the fax machine, and admit to having received one or two documents via messenger, I have embraced the Cloud… at least mostly.
Sure, blogs are cool, websites are a must, Twitter is an interesting hello, and Facebook a nice way to reach out; but as a meeting place, sort of creepy to me. Maybe I’ve been jaded by the personal newspaper ads of the ’80s, “Hi my name is Creepy; call me for friendship or whatever.” Yeah, right. I’m picking the phone up right away.
Today my virtual world has been rocked when I run into one of the most fascinating, brave, and powerful humanitarians in my circle of friends. Maybe I’ve been a hypocrite in some way. Yes, I do use social networking to share my global projects, and in building a following for 365. For that purpose, I spend 30 minutes a day throwing invites. But that has been my limit, “invites only.”
So for me to actually cold message someone is a little scary. Almost 700 friends on my Facebook, and when I looked at it yesterday, top of the list was Lucy, Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Campaign.
Director of Anti-Human Trafficking Campaign: The title digs deep into me. I must get involved. I’ve traveled too much, seen too many things, and instantly know that in a vicarious way, I have silently met a hero for the world. I must invite her to 365.
With trepidation, I craft my 365 invite with this close, “I promise I’m not scary, a married man with a 9-year-old daughter. Really, I rarely message on Facebook. Your humanitarian work just caught my eye.”
Man, I’m a nerd; she’s going to blast back, “Sure buddy, see you in China.”
But the 365 jitters told me, “Richard, you have to take the chance.” I press the send button and jump back into my daily business. An ugly task awaits me, a call to the bank to replace my lost credit card. I’m sure you’ve been there.
I make the call and as I begin my journey into voice prompt hell, Lucy responds with an empowering acceptance of 365. I’m humbled. I dump my bank nightmare, immediately call her, and we have a very brief conversation. One thing I instantly know, Lucy is amazing, powerful, and strongly committed to her mission.
She kindly informs me, “I’ve just returned from a month in Tunisia covering the elections so a bit in-over-my-head with all the catching up I need to do, and tomorrow I’m giving a presentation at the Skirball Cultural Center’s, Half the Sky exhibit.”
Realizing I’ve met a new friend of greatness, I offer to interview her at the Skirball. She graciously accepts, and not wanting to pollute the spontaneity of a first meeting, we leave it at that.
To the Skirball, I go, joyfully greeting the heavy traffic of an Interstate 405 under heavy construction (another story in itself).
I arrive fifteen minutes before Lucy’s presentation. Today’s audience—a group of high school students, the literal future of the world. My take, “If change is going to happen, we have to start with the youth, they are the leaders of what’s to come, for better or worse, the planet is in their hands.”
Lucy is not alone; beside her is Daisy, her lovely daughter. I’m instantly smitten to see a mother-daughter together in preparing to share a difficult topic and challenge to young minds.
The Topic: The Darkness of Human Trafficking and its Relation to the Horrors of Prostitution.
The Call To Action: “Get involved in speaking out.”
“Use the social network, tell the world what is going on, and share messages for human rights. You are powerful and your word can be heard. With many voices comes awareness and change.”
The presentation is brief, but her delivery is spot on and at a perfect level for the audience. Lucy talks about the scale of illegal Human Trafficking, a multi-billion-dollar industry that destroys the lives of the women it exploits. She credits its growth to the greed and inhumanity of the money-hungry corrupters of human rights and poses a solution: stronger laws that will prosecute all who commit the atrocities of stealing the rights, esteem, bodies, and futures of so many.
It is shattering to know that most of the world’s brothels are filled with innocent young teens working against their will, most of whom are victims of dysfunctional families, or, worse yet, literally sold into slavery by abusive parents at ages as young as pre-teen.
Lucy is direct in her dialogue and no punches are pulled. The facts are laid out and the room intently listens. There is no texting, no cross-talking, and no interruptions. At the end of it all, Lucy eloquently answers a set of well-constructed questions from the students.
With the presentation over and the room clearing, I get the opportunity to sit with Lucy and Daisy.
I offer my camera to Daisy and as Lucy and I talk, Daisy is busy snapping away. She is obviously proud of her mom.
Lucy asks me, “Do you think they got it? I saw a lot of black stares.” Both Daisy and I chime in, “They got it. Look at the questions they asked.”
What I witness is nothing short of spectacular. A woman passionate to make a difference, and humble enough to question, “Did I say the right thing? In my view, Lucy is a soldier of justice.
Her orders are universal, “Stop the cruelty, save the lives.”
There is so much she has enlightened us with, and not all of it is dark or negative. She tells of an organization she works with. One that trains women rescued from the brothels. Teaching them skills that their captors denied them. Things like basic secretarial and phone skills that allow them to work within their organization. They can understand and empathize when taking incoming calls from victims of human trafficking and prostitution. What a great way to help these women heal: Helping others in the same situation they themselves escaped.
It’s a great start to fixing a major problem and demonstrates that the corrupt systems can be altered in giving self-respect and dignity back to those who have been condemned by the trade that they were forced into. This is a seed to the beginnings of change.
Lucy shares a statistic, “Ten years ago when I started this journey, not many were even aware of human trafficking, now it is globally exposed and some laws are slowly changing.”
She challenges us all, “Use the social network, tell the world what is going on, and share messages for human rights. You are powerful and your word can be heard. With many voices comes awareness and change.”
Lucy talks of the power of one and challenges us all to reach deep into ourselves, to escape our own minds, and to have the fortitude to do our part in helping the oppressed. I am inspired and am completely engaged in her mission.
True, for some, like Lucy, it’s time to roll up the sleeves and do the physical work. But there is also much softer work to be done. Lucy is talking about universal awareness. She talks of her philosophy of the strength of words, and the words of many, even one individual, being a powerful thing.
With this, Lucy is not asking all of us to travel to Tunisia, to invest countless dollars or time, she is not even asking us to step out of our home. What she is asking is simply this (in my words), “Speak out against the injustice of the oppression being burdened upon the women of whom such atrocities are happening. Have compassion for them, they are victims and deserve a chance at life. Do your part in telling the world. Awareness brings change. The corrupt inhumane money mongers must be removed, and the laws that protect them need to be we-written to prosecute them.”
Here is one startling fact. The charge for a pimp (the guy beating a 13-year-old into submission)—Pandering. A basic misdemeanor. That sickens me.
Do my part? Now I know why I stopped today on my Facebook browse. There is a reason Lucy is found at the top of my cue. If you believe that things happen for a reason, then possibly, the stars have aligned today in my not-so-chance meeting with Lucy.
But whatever it is. This entry is happening, and I pray that it gets the traffic it deserves. Please pass it on. As Lucy says, “Even the voice of one is powerful.”
In her words, “My goal is to inspire those who have chosen mediocrity out of fear to reach beyond themselves…way past their comfort zone into a life of adventure and meaning. If one person can change the lives of millions causing tons of destruction (think about dictators), so too can one individual change the world for the better. Or we can sit by and watch from the sidelines, allowing complacency (fear) to rule. It’s our choice.”
Lucy, I’m going to break one of my editorial rules for you today, that rule: to be politically, socially, and religiously neutral.
Lucy. God bless you. My prayers are with you, and even more so with the women you are fighting so hard to protect.