Heck with the Polar Bears–Save the People

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
– Edmund Burke

I have been amazed, over the past couple of days, by how little response I have gotten to my ethical question and follow-up information. Or, at least, how little response by way of comments. My blog stats have been up, so I know that people are reading. But the silence has been somewhat deafening.

As I was feeding my children lunch today, a commercial came on wherein Noah Wiley entreated me to donate to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF–even if the wrestlers don’t use it anymore, I couldn’t imagine making that my organization’s initials) to save the polar bears (who, presumably, dress up in lycra and body slam each other).

Now, I don’t have anything against polar bears. I’m sure they are lovely. And, since I live well into middle America, I’m not concerned about them trying to eat me (and now I have a recent SNL skit stuck in my head). In short, lack of polar bear extinction is a good thing–even if the risk of polar bear extinction anytime soon may be questionable.

But you know what isn’t questionable? Human trafficking. And when is the last time you saw an add to donate money for that cause?

I’m going with “never.”

I noticed today that I got a referral to my blog from Alltop’s slavery section for my reminder about the ethical question. My reaction to that can be summed up in one word.

Pathetic.

Really, are so few people discussing this that a reminder to give an opinion on the topic is enough to make a post part of the “top of the web”?

Wow. (I’m betting this post won’t be enough to get me on some Alltop page for saving the polar bears.)

To some extent, this astonishes me. There are currently more people enslaved on this planet than at any other time in history. Every country has laws against slavery, but so many do not enforce them. It is seen as the price of business.

We tend to look at the problem and think, “Wow, that’s sad, but it is happening in other countries. I can’t change what happens there.” Only it doesn’t just happen there. It is estimated that about 50,000 slaves cross our borders every year. Some are sex slaves. Some are laborers (I must admit suspicion over the numerous Chinese buffets in our area–so many Chinese women that you never see anywhere other than inside the restaurants). But they are here. In the open. And they continue to serve unwillingly because we don’t want to think about the fact that this happens under our noses.

And I think that has something to do with the lack of response that I’ve seen. Even when I have talked to people in real life about what I’m learning, I’m frequently met with ambivalence. Most of the people I’ve talked to have said something along the lines of, “That’s fine if you want to read about that, but don’t give me details. I don’t want to think about it.”

Here’s the thing. I’m going to challenge you to think about it. While doing some research on the web, I saw something that said October 18th was something like International Day to Fight Human Trafficking. I can’t find it now, so I’m not sure if that was exactly what it was called, but that’s what we’re going to call it here until I can find the real name (I’ve been looking all over–I swear I didn’t make it up, though). So, this Saturday, I want you do do something to educate yourself about modern slavery, or even do something to help fight it.

Buy a book. Read a website. If you live in a big city (Like Washington DC, Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver…) go see a movie. Buy yourself a new piece of jewelry.

Do it. Blog about it. Give a voice to 27 million people who aren’t being heard.

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13 Comments

Filed under modern slavery, politics, The Me Behind the Mommy

13 responses to “Heck with the Polar Bears–Save the People

  1. endithinks

    Why do we have to pick one or the other? Any good that we do in this world is going to help us all. Some people are passionate about Polar Bears, some people are passionate about ending the human trafficking. Look to Amnesty International for example of passionate people who want to end daily suffering. You can also check out Mercy Corps, Kiva, Unicef, Children’s International, and so on and so forth.

    Let’s just all focus on spreading care and kindness wherever our passions lie.

  2. Um, I think you missed my point. As quickly as you responded after I hit publish, maybe you didn’t actually read the post first? I don’t have it in for the polar bears. I just find it disturbing that their purported plight is more well-known than that of the millions of slaves in our world.

  3. endithinks

    Sorry if you thought I was dogging you, I didn’t mean it. I used to think the same thing until I realized that people can only get behind the actual causes that stir them. Also I think that Polar Bears represent more than just an animal suffering. It is a sign for the whole idea of climate change, the environment and our stewardship of the Earth.

  4. Nicole

    I think it’s commendable that you’re passionate about this issue and that you’re helping your readers to get educated about this devastating reality. Like I told you, I did a report on this in college, (It was specifically about child sex slaves in the Phillipeans) and it really opened my eyes to how prevalent it is throughout the world. The only reason I don’t like to think about it is because it is just so painful and I feel utterly hopeless. But I guess that’s selfish. If it’s painful for me to THINK about… imagine the pain of living it. I will take your challenge to become more educated on this issue. I’d like to look into what we can do, even if it’s small and simple, to help the suffering slaves who are without a voice. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. I think Nicole is right in that if we were to focus ourselves on all the suffering in the world it would simply be too painful to bear and we wouldn’t be able to function. I consider myself to have a fairly good idea of what’s going on in the world. I am an avid news reader and know something about human trafficking and other suffering. But in the end, and as sad as it is, I have neither the resources or the time to devote to this and other injustices in the world other than reading about it. One can only read so much and absorb so much. I fully appreciate your point of view though. I have things that bother me so much and don’t seem to affect most people. I wish I could get on my soapbox and yell loud enough that people would listen to me. But they wouldn’t as it’s part of the culture and the conditioning they’ve received. I don’t mean this in a derogatory way either but a lot of Americans don’t fully appreciate the world beyond our borders.

  6. Nancy

    Katie, you are upset because you are reading it and it is searing into your consciousness. You can share your insights, but you cannot guilt others into feeling what you are feeling now, or make them care as deeply as you care.

    Slavery is a horrible reality, and as Nicole said, we feel hopeless. We feel hopeless because we are powerless, and in the absence of a way to change something the natural reaction is to turn away from it. Is it right? No. Is it understandable? You tell me.

    For those worried about the polar bears, you can rest easy. They are more numerous now than they were 40 years ago and despite what hysteric ravings you might have heard the Arctic sea ice is doing quite nicely, thank you very much.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/10/15/arctic-sea-ice-now-287-higher-than-this-date-last-year-still-climbing/

    BTW, wattsupwiththat.com is an interesting, informative website that pokes holes in a lot of the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) hype going around. Pseudo-science really doesn’t benefit anyone, and popular climate “science” is almost completely severed from rational moorings. Is there something to AGW? Yes. Are they exaggerating it for financial gain/prestige/power/who-knows-what-else? IMHO, Yes. A whole lot.

  7. Umm . . . not to try to dilute your point, but there are Asian people all over your area, not just in the restaurants. I mean, not specifically in your neighborhood, but go a few miles south to the mall area. There are three Asian markets just on one street there, which tells me there is a demand for Asain foods and goods, which tells me there are lots of Asians, which there are, because you see them everywhere. And I miss it. You see them shopping, you see them at the movies, you see them out with their kids at the parks, you see them on the university campus. I really wouldn’t be suspicious of the Chinese restaurants.

  8. Nicole,

    If everyone reacted like you did when we talked the other day, it would make me feel more hopeful. The way I remember your response, it was something along the lines of, “It is so hard to think about it, but I guess nothing gets done if no one thinks about it.” (Paraphrasing, obviously.)

  9. Elaine,

    Yeah, I guess there are quite a few Asians over by your old area. I guess the difference for me has to do specifically to the mold these girls fit in–same age, barely speak a word of English (heck, once we had a hard time conveying Diet Coke and Sprite to the girl), and really high turn-over. Sean, Patrick, and I have speculated on that one for a long time–well before I started reading all of this.

    But your point is valid.

  10. Sarah,

    I guess my hope with this was to have people see that there are little things that we can do. You are right–you and I aren’t in a position to make a huge impact. As much as I would love to, I don’t have the time or resources. But there are people out there who do. And I just wonder if more of them would devote their resources if the problem were more visible, more discussed. And, of course, there are always ways to support the organizations that are fighting it on a large scale. I linked to some of them at the end of my post.

  11. thanksgivingmom

    A huge part of my job right now is to go to companies and be a part of their employee giving campaigns. I push for people to donate through payroll deductions (or other means) to the organization for which I work. I happen to think it’s a VERY worthwhile organization that does great work – that just happens to focus on humans.

    Sometimes at these fairs I see some of the other booths and think, seriously?? Someone is going to donate their money to THAT over MY organization?? Without stating mine, it’s a nationwide organization fighting deadly diseases – so yeah, when I see people donating to the local pitbull rescue society (no offense pitbull lovers) I get a little frustrated.

    BUT at the end of the day, we do all donate to what we’re passionate about. And there are SO many worthwhile organizations out there that I would be devastated to see how many I want to help vs. how many I physically could donate to.

    I TOTALLY get that human trafficking and slavery are HUGE issues. But we do get into dangerous territory when we begin to organize them by “importance.” I certainly don’t want to be the judge or jury that decides who’s causes are of most importance….but I certainly see your point about exposure of issues….

  12. I don’t mean to come across as saying that other charities aren’t worthwhile, or that I’m trying to say other things aren’t important (you know that I know some about what you do from reading your blog, and I think it is amazingly important). The polar bear thing was tongue in cheek to illustrate just how little exposure human trafficking has (although, yes, I do personally think that people are more important).

    I agree, there are way more organizations than any of us could ever donate to. I’m not even saying to donate (I mean, if people can, that’s awesome but not necessarily what I was saying to do). I guess I just see an opportunity where awareness is needed, and a platform where it can be provided. Kind of like all of the people who have gone pink this month. Sometimes, doing something doesn’t cost anything.

  13. thanksgivingmom

    I for one think it’s AWESOME if this is your platform and something you stand behind. I agree that more exposure is needed and I think you do a great job bringing it to light!

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