I believe human trafficking can end because I believe that what some believe impossible can be made possible. I have always believed that… any time someone said to me, “you can’t do that”, my first thought was always, “why not?”
When I was a child, someone said to me “you can’t eat that”, as I slowly manoeuvred a thick, brass paper clip towards my mouth. Yes, I can. They said, “It’s impossible.” I thought, “no, it’s not impossible.”
Now, fair enough….I ended up in hospital and spent two weeks eating cotton wool sandwiches…but that’s not the point.
When I’ve heard people tell me that something is impossible, I have always felt it might be possible. If you look at great social movements over the years, if you look at game-changing inventions, people have always thought it impossible until someone else proved that it wasn’t.
Do I think we can end modern day slavery in our generation? I hope so.
And what I do know is that there are a lot of people giving serious thought to how we can end this. Your thoughts affect your attitude and your attitude determines the course of your life. Thinking is so powerful. And what I think is incredibly encouraging right now is that people are thinking about this issue, like never before.
Since the transatlantic slave trade, since William Wilberforce, never in history has modern day slavery been so prominent in the minds of those who can make a difference.
That’s a good sign.
If you look at the civil rights movement, the reason that movement gained such traction was because they started challenging people’s thinking about equality. And I think that’s what we are doing now. It gives me great inspiration and great hope, that there are many currently thinking about how we can end slavery. However, it is vital that thinking and talking must lead to action.
And there is so much to be encouraged by when you look at what IJM are doing in India, Cambodia, and other parts of the world, when you look at the Salvation Army and their worldwide focus on this issue, and there are so many other amazing organisations who are tangibly helping people who are currently modern day slaves.
And they are not just helping people, but they are doing it within a robust and effective strategy to end human trafficking. They are addressing the real issues like rule of law, establishing prevention strategies, and many other areas.
So if you ask me can we end slavery?
My answer is yes because we are thinking about it, yes because we are talking about it, yes because we are implementing effective action, and yes because I think we have the right strategies. We are starting to ask the right questions and address the real issues. But, the key factor in determining success is unity.
We can think, talk, act and have the right strategies but if we don’t work together all of these activities will fail.
I am not a natural at collaborative working. As a pioneer, I like to go, do, and get on with it. And I have found that many people who want to change the world are like that. They have the ability to gather people around them and their mission but they find it more challenging to gather other leaders and be comfortable with difference.
If we are ever going to end slavery, what we need to first address is ending the competitive spirit within charities, within leaders, within other agencies. We need to rid ourselves of comparison and authentically work together towards our common goal.
In order for us to do that, we need to embrace the premise of this well known phrase, “it’s an amazing how far you can get, if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
I’m not saying every leader is like this, but I’m telling you this could be an issue for me, but we need to make a monumental shift from the prize or the goal being the credit to the prize or the goal being the end of slavery.
If we are going to end slavery we need to think about it, talk about it, act, have the right strategy but fundamentally we need to realise we can only do it, if we do it together.
My daughter taught me this principle early on when she was about 4 years old. She used to watch a High School Musical (a movie from which I am sure we can all agree many poignant and pivotal leadership lessons have been learned) and she would sing the lead song from the movie all around the house, the song went “We’re all in this together.”