"A Tale of Two Lives:” Andrew's Why

 

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Let me tell you a little bit about my day yesterday. I went into my garage to start the car. The engine turned but it didn’t start. After trying a few things, I got it going and headed to my office. I arrived at my office to find the internet was down. I made a couple of calls, set up a tech appointment, and tried to do some work offline since it would take hours - at least five long, agonizing hours - waiting for internet access.

I headed back home to do some work there and have a late breakfast. I had just dropped the butter in the skillet when my cell phone rang. The service tech was available early and already at the office. I turned off the stove, dropped everything else and headed back to the office - stewing all the way about how my day had been taken from me, and how frustrating it had become.


What haunts some of our nightmares is the stuff of other’s waking reality.

I then thought about a lunch I had the week before. A lunch with four other men, and three women. Two of the women, Kathy and Laurie, I have come to know and greatly admire for their incredible balance of strength and sensitivity.The third woman was a very special guest – Blythe Hill from Dressember.

After thinking about this lunch, my day took a very different turn.

Here’s the real story of my day:

I went out to my 5-year-old car and it wouldn’t start. But I was able to walk out of my house and fix it without fear of assault.

I went to the office to find the internet down. But I wasn’t forced to stay underwater holding my breath while I tried for 15-minutes to free a fishing net from a small boat on Lake Volta. I wasn’t forced to watch for any ripples in the water waiting for my 5-year-old brother to come up as well. I wasn’t forced to question how my family could give me over to someone who came to my village promising work for me and money for us all.

I had to stop making breakfast because the service tech called. But I didn’t have to smell the diesel engine from my assigned spot in the back of the bus as it entered the parking lot to an unknown situation ahead of me.


 On Lake Volta in Ghana, Mark Kwadwo, 6, left, scoops water in the canoe of Kwadwo Takyi, rear. Kwabena Botwe, 11, paddles. Photo Credit: Joao Silva for The New York Times

On Lake Volta in Ghana, Mark Kwadwo, 6, left, scoops water in the canoe of Kwadwo Takyi, rear. Kwabena Botwe, 11, paddles. Photo Credit: Joao Silva for The New York Times


This is uncomfortable for me to write. It is uncomfortable for you to read. I know that. But discomfort is where growth occurs. What haunts some of our nightmares is the stuff of other’s waking reality.

This seems hopeless in size and scale - 40 million people are currently living in some form of slavery, and 1 in 4 of them children are children.

Hope starts when we act. Change occurs as we engage. Lives are changed as we lean in to the discomfort.

Each one of those girls, boys, men and women are beings with inherent worth and meaning, individuals like you and me with names, families, experiences, pain and joy. Each one with dignity.

I don’t question any motive. We can act out of guilt, anger, our sense of justice and a host of other reasons. If any of those compels you to act – use them.

But I want to suggest something else, something that is powerful and transformative, something that lasts.

I want you to find a way to love those who have been subjected to this.

If you, or anyone close to you have been subjected to anything like what so many suffer daily, you can start to understand the pain. It’s a pain that shames, a pain that seeks to hide, a pain that numbs and crushes the spirit.


Each one of those girls, boys, men and women are beings with inherent worth and meaning. They are individuals like you and me with names, families, experiences, pain and joy. Each one with dignity.
 Mark Kwadwo, 6, in the small dark room, where he sleeps on the dirt floor and rises before dawn to work on Lake Volta, a two-day trek from his family home. “I don’t like it here,” he whispered to a visitor, out of earshot of his employer. Photo Credit: Joao Silva for The New York Times

Mark Kwadwo, 6, in the small dark room, where he sleeps on the dirt floor and rises before dawn to work on Lake Volta, a two-day trek from his family home. “I don’t like it here,” he whispered to a visitor, out of earshot of his employer. Photo Credit: Joao Silva for The New York Times


If you haven’t, here is the opportunity to reach into someone else’s pain, to reach into their suffering and let them know you care, that they mean something. That whatever they’ve been subjected to will not permanently define their life. That they can experience, and hopefully one day, offer love.

Kind love, trusting love, caring love, appreciative love, supportive love, transformative love.

This is what we do.

There’s a line from a recent movie, offered by a gunslinger, to someone he is trying to train. Out of frustration in the lack of progress he says to his student, “If you want to hit the target, you’ve got to HATE what you’re shooting at!

I think the opposite is true. If you want to truly help, you have to love. Find a way to love.

Dressember is a great start.

Maybe first we can love the women in our life in that transformative way. Maybe we can constantly remind ourselves and our brothers of the inherent worth of every person we come across. Maybe we can always remember that every girl, teen or woman we come across is someone’s daughter, wife or mother, not an object, regardless of clothing or life choice. Maybe then we can lean in with support.


 Photo Credit: Challenging Heights

Photo Credit: Challenging Heights


My wife acted, leaned-in and showed me the way. Maybe we just click on the link below to learn a bit more.

Whether it’s wearing a tie for December, offering our time, or giving our money - we have options.

Then we can start to look at our world with a different perspective, one with hope.


If you want to truly help, you have to love.

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Raise your voice against slavery this December!

Commit to wearing a dress or tie every day in December. You'll challenge yourself, expand your knowledge on modern slavery, and be equipped to lead your community in the fight to end human trafficking. Registration is open for Dressember 2018 and fundraising has already started! Be a part of the impact for our local and global partners by creating your campaign page today!



 
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About the Author

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Andrew Doherty, a real estate appraiser for 29-years, enjoys time in the Adirondacks, mountain biking, mead-making and writing from his home in Syracuse, NY. His loves include his wife of 30+ years, his two "boys" and his faith.