(Updates have been made to this article since the first publication in the 1.11.2021 Newsletter.)
Inspired by these national awarenesses:
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month
If ever you thought we lived in a perfect country or even a perfect world, those rosy glasses might have broken by now. I won’t say it’s not possible, I’d just ask what is the definition of perfect. If perfect can mean that we perfectly understand the process of awakening to a life’s journey as one of 1. Learning our specific lessons in this lifetime, 2. Accepting that the conditions of the world tend to constantly fluctuate between right-doing and wrong-doing, 3. Understanding our hearts will break open over and over enough times until we release from the grip of personal gain and 4. Truly landing in the place where we wish to help others who’s voices are not heard. Then, this could be the perfect world that we live in. If we expect something different right now and are demanding for perfection to mean all good, all peaceful, all loving, all compassionate, all the time…then it might be a longer than needed obstacle course until we can meet and truly make space for the healing for all on this planet.
While the current events have been devastating and have highlighted the struggles throughout American history, an ongoing harm has continued for at least several thousands of years. Slavery and human trafficking. Another behavior against the dignity of humans that has been woven into the fabric of our country and across the globe. Some say it has never NOT existed. Some sites rank it 2nd or 3rd against drugs and arms trafficking. The video documentary, Break the Chain speaks about criminals who have switched from drug trafficking to human trafficking because “it’s the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.” The lives of innocent
children, women, men and non-binary individuals have been objectified to the point that the human element is gone. Or, is the part of the human element that fears and seeks to dominate heightened to madness? And in between is complacency and lack of awareness. What we wear, what we eat, how we live, even the vacations we take – many of these things are quite likely zero to very few degrees away from the chain of harm where innocent children and adults are the ones who suffer at the other end of our luxury. While we are likely unaware we’re paying for harm, those suffering are praying for outstretched arms to save them.
It’s painful. It’s not at all nice to think about. It might not even feel like our problem or we justify by assuming these people have somehow asked for it to happen. My goal here isn’t to put blame or guilt or even to name the public and private companies, governments and institutions that have been identified by agencies and continue to do very little to change this because of the profit margin. Primarily, as I believe with all subject matters where our ignorance reigns, we require education and information from sources we trust…which of course can be challenging these days. My hope is that we can do our own research, our own reflection and become more conscious of the dots that connect between our attachments and our true well-being.
Here at home in the U.S., we’re getting a massive window into the harm that one person’s voice can have. One person who convinced a nation that he had our best interest when taking office. Many never saw that as the reason and yet, millions of others still can’t see anything but that…sort of. How is it possible that as the sentient beings that we are, there can be such differences of experience? It’s amazing to consider how we clearly can come together and create the most joyful unions as well as the most destructive wars. Some hold the vision that we will experience peace on this planet one day, while others imagine the end of humans will come from destroying each other by nuclear warfare. My vision has fluctuated over time and I hold one as the ideal, the other as the likely outcome. What keeps me going is faith that there is benefit in holding the ideal for the sake of our ongoing evolution. Since our existence is the briefest blip on the calendar of the universe, I trust we have a ways to go but that the desire to share peace and joy, love and light is stronger than anything else. It lights up our brains with positive chemical responses and provides the chance to live with a lighter footprint on this planet. It may be more subtle, but as it goes with the yoga practices, the subtle ones are the more powerful ones! And we are far more than these limited bodies. These physical “bone bags” I’ve heard them called, may be at a certain stage of enlightenment for human consciousness that eventually understands its dynamic union with cosmic consciousness.
Exploitation permeates and affects many aspects of our lives with or without our knowledge, from the things we wear to the places we eat to the tourist spots to which we travel. The more aware we are of its existence and how it continues to thrive in a world publicly less tolerant of its presence, the better off we are at fighting it.
-Huffington Post article: Can We Have a World Without Slavery?
Human trafficking can get lost in the shuffle of all that’s happening in the world. Everything from misinformation and stigma, to misperception and protective mindset. Corporations have been noted as being responsible for supporting human trafficking and it is sometimes shocking to imagine that this could still exist. But like the events on Capitol Hill last week, it also feels not so surprising when we see how powerful one voice can be. It is very difficult when lies have created the situation we’re in, where a large percentage of Americans believe there has been a stolen election. It’s very telling when the lies that are being created and the way life is unfolding, that it has questionable consequences. To see how obvious it is that we have a situation out of hand and it’s very complicated to resolve, gives us a window into how intertwined all the stories are about what it means to live in this country and on this planet. Even with all the social media and the world wide web and how obvious some messages can be, much happens in the quiet spaces, stays protected there and expands in the power of darkness. The Guardian had a thought-provoking article around the question –
Without trafficking, what would happen to global wealth and productivity?
In the same way you might have imagined white supremacy didn’t exist or at least not in such large numbers, human trafficking exists in the shadows of the world’s thriving economies as well as those countries struggling with poverty. COVID-19 has had a particularly dark toll on this industry which continues to survive. Will it take the same disastrous historical moment until that unmistakable recognition comes to the forefront as well? Or will it stay hidden because it’s unimaginable how much our world depends on this system? Misinformation has been the enabler for wrong-doing in the most heinous of ways in recent years as we see it turn into news that people rely on and trust. Words have power and people can be vulnerable due to political, cultural, environmental and social circumstances. The threat to survival signals a built in response to do whatever has to happen for preservation. It’s the powerful tool hidden within our being that exists in the one who is perpetrator, willing to cause the harm for their own survival as well as the victim who will do anything to ensure survival.
Forbes.com speaks of Cracking The $150 Billion Business of Human Trafficking.
The motive of traffickers—regardless of the type of human trafficking they are engaged in—is clear: money! Annually, the business of human trafficking globally generates an estimated $150 billion in profits according to the ILO.
“Human trafficking is a $150 billion a year global industry and can’t be fully addressed without businesses taking active and effective measures to reduce the potential for exploitation within their own systems.”
-Bradley Myles, chief executive officer of Polaris, the nonprofit organization that runs the national human-trafficking hotline in the United States.
What makes us strong and what do we rely on for our strength? If the source of our strength is intertwined with the harm put against others, I don’t believe it can ever lead us to the happiness that we seek. The more we can be conscious of our choices and where they originate and what results come from them, I believe we move closer to understanding the well-being for ourself and others. Many aren’t in a position where this much awareness and access is possible and we can’t point to them and say, “well they’re not doing it so why should we?” If we have the privilege to consider these ideas, we have the ability to make changes.
IMPORTANT WAYS TO ACTIVATE AND BE MORE CONSCIOUS:
- Here are some resources on Shopping Slavery Free from Human Trafficking Research.
- Important work is being done by End Slavery Now, including a global resource with 18 regional researchers who work to “advance human rights in business and eradicate abuse to empower advocates, strengthen corporate accountability and build corporate transparency.”
- From the Business and Human Rights Resource Center, here’s an article that details information regarding our food and beverage supply chain that is useful to look through.
- There are many, many sites that speak of action steps including the Blue Campaign and WorldWithoutExploitation.org.
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) has some uplifting stories to share in their new Voices section of their website.
- Twitter bans Trump permanently as of 1.11.2021 as noted by change.org – one of my favorite sources to financially direct my voice and to be alerted of world crimes against humanity. Ok not exactly related here, though actually ties in with this conversation around abuse of power and corrupt business tactics but that would be another newsletter…
Nearly 21 million people are victims of forced labor, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation— more than at any other time in history. The US alone, has an estimated 57,700 people trapped in modern slavery. The problem is daunting, but the United States is committed to its eradication.
The ILO is a key US partner for achieving international rule of law to combat modern slavery and human trafficking. With support from the US government, the ILO has made continuous progress toward improving living and working conditions and adherence to international labor standards in countries around the world.
Videos from Satsangs with Sri Swami Satchidananda
How to Transform Negative Emotions
How to Fearlessly Face Challenges
May we be grateful for the abundance that we find in this life and in the many forms and ways it can blossom. May we do our jobs well in this lifetime and offer energy towards being of service to others. May our needs come from a place of real hunger versus an insatiable craving that causes us to be less than mindful of others. May the coming weeks be the teachers we need to awaken our right actions. May all be safe, protected and free from harm.
Let’s Stay Connected,
Owner and Director
Mukunda Yoga Center, SOMA SF, CA