Do I need to be “with” someone?

Mar 25, 2011

So this is my latest problem – I’m not “with” someone. Over this past year and a half when I go to meetings such as the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force meeting or to events like the Freedom Summit or when I email different organizations to receive additional resources, I almost always get the question, “So, who are you here with?” Which I am left stumbling to find the right words and usually say something like, “Uh, no one really, just me. Who are you here with?” Which is when they pull out their official business cards which has their name, the organization they work for, and the variety of ways one can contact them. Most people are good about quickly getting past the fact that I am not officially with a particular organization, but if a further conversation is needed, I usually end up putting my contact information on the back of their business cards.

I don’t represent or work for a specific organization. And I am finding there is a discrepancy with those that get to make a living rescuing, restoring, and preventing in the issue of modern day slavery and people like me. The folks like me, and I am meeting more each day, are ordinary. We are the women and men who are stay-at-home moms and dads or who are in jobs not related to anything in the realm of human rights and whose jobs don’t come with business cards.

As I was driving my daughter to swim practice this afternoon, it hit me. This is a problem. Until the gap closes between the people who make a living providing solutions to the issue of modern day slavery and the regular folks like myself, I think real change in re-abolitioning slavery will be very difficult and long in coming. The ordinary person needs to be engaged and needs to have a voice in contributing ideas and solutions. This goes both ways. The organizations and people on the front lines of the fight against slavery must see the average person as necessary in the solution (and I think this needs to be not just limited to the ways they can financially contribute to an organization). And the average person needs to cultivate their sense of responsibility and begin to exercise the voice they have been given. When the question changes from “Who are you here with or who do you work for?” to “What is your community doing to end modern day slavery or what have you learned that is effective in fighting human trafficking?” then I think we will see significant culture changes in this new abolitionist movement.

In the meantime, I made some business cards 🙂