I recently read this letter written to Craig’s list from two girls that were held in sexual slavery whose captors used Craig’s list to sell them everyday. I had heard Craigslist was a little shady when it came to this issue, but I never really looked into how so exactly. I didn’t know that the “adult services” section of CraigsList is the only section that Craigslist charges to use. So not only is the “adult services section being used to sell women, Craig’s list is actually making money off it. Suddenly it makes sense why this has been such a problem for Craigslist. They stand to lose millions by taking this section out. So even though they run the chance of ruining countless lives, it all comes down to the bottom line: money.
I just couldn’t believe it. It makes me sick just thinking about it. Partially because I don’t understand how this Craig guy can sleep at night. I keep thinking about how many justifications must run though his head in order to feel better about himself. Is he really any better than the traffickers themselves? Both parties are allowing a horrible atrocity to happen for personal gain. But the sick feeling in my stomach had more to do with the fact that there have been plenty of times where I have used and loved Craig’s list without a second thought. And what does that make me? I know just looking for an apartment on Craigslist doesn’t make me a supporter of the things that happen through that site, but what does it mean? It just made me think more intently about how many times we purchase or do something completely oblivious to the possible affect that action or purchase may or may not have on the world. Or maybe it does cross our minds but we have sold ourselves on the well rehearsed justification that since we are just one person there is no way anything I do can have that much impact of the world. But really? Is that ok? Can we really stand on that for too long? Because if everyone thought that way, nothing would change. The truth is, we have immense power, our actions say lot; integrity counts and it stands out in the world. We have no idea how much power one person has.
I watched The Blind Side last week. I cried through like 75% percent of it. I did not expect to be moved so much, but it was really quite uncontrollable. I was already in quite the emotional state because of the violent political protests that were going on around me. Watching the smoke billow up in the distance and hearing gunshots and explosions all night long for days does something to your state of being. As if seeing the destruction poverty has wreaked on the young girls of Thailand week after week is not enough, coming face to face with the reality of how completely reckless and heartless people can become when trying to prove their point sunk my heart to the point of tears on that first day when the violence was bad enough we had to send all of our workers home from Nightlight early so they could get home safely.
People are capable of so much damage… but those same people are also capable of so much good.
This movie, The Blind Side, illustrates perfectly what I am saying here. In the movie we see a woman, probably a little too wealthy and comfortable for her own good, using what she has to change the life of another. She has the perfect American dream of a life. There is no reason why she should or would want to complicate things by taking in some kid off the street. But that is exactly what she did. She took a risk, and it paid off because as the movie progresses, we notice something even more beautiful: the role her loving actions play not only in the changing of herself but the role these actions play in bringing to attention the blind selfishness the people in her circle lived in. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when she is at a lunch date with other rich wives in her circle and they realize for the first time that her actions are not just some silly whim that people of their sort tend to do from time to time to make themselves feel better, but a true self sacrificing act of love. It is at moments like these that one persons acts of love, integrity, or compassion can start the wheels rolling on the transformation of a whole community.
When we do something out of the norm… people notice… so why not make it count?
I was listening to a sermon the other day and the pastor said something like “I am all about rebellion. I am all about living alternative lifestyles. If you want to be rebellious and alterative in this day, stay a virgin… marry and stay married for a lifetime…. actually ask forgiveness when you sin against somebody…live on half your income when you don’t have to…There has never been a greater opportunity for the church in America to stand out form the rest of the world than there is right now!”
And its just so true! There is so much power in our everyday choices and actions.
But the problems is, we are too used to not risking anything, too used to not sacrificing much. We never want to get too uncomfortable. We have all these imaginary lines we draw between reasonable and unreasonable. We ask, for example, is it really reasonable to have to buy fair trade? It’s more expensive… I have to look harder… it’s so inconvenient… But really? Is it really all that unreasonable? Because what if we really understood how much power we have as a consumer? That if we refused to buy things that perpetuated slavery and unfair wages in the world we could ACTUALLY help to save the world. What action is actually the more unreasonable one here?… And think of how much we would stand out if we actually lived with that type of integrity? How much awareness would be spread? How much we could make people question their everyday selfishness?
What if, for example, when everyone else was buying an iPhone, you kept your old less smart phone and decided to sponsor a couple of children in developing countries instead? “Why do you still have that old phone?” someone would inevitably ask as you fumble through your texting effort with your oh so small button keys. “Well, let me tell you why… you see, I made a choice…”
When we do something out of the norm people notice…
And when people notice the possibilities are twofold, we get to help wake this sleeping society up, and we get to point to Christ.
Everything we do should point to Christ. By simply doing what I do here in Thailand, it has opened the door to countless conversations that all point to God. “That’s a great thing you are doing,” they inevitably say. “ I do it because God loves me…,” I am free to answer.
We just need to figure out what it is we want our lives to be about. Because when Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves I think he means it. And have you ever sat down and thought about what that means practically? Do we really care about others just as much as we care about ourselves? How does that play out in our everyday?
We have the power, what are we going to do with it?
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:17)