Friday, September 11, 2009

Take A 9/11 Coffee Break

A lot of people, including me, just can't get started in the morning without our coffee. You see us walking down the street, sipping from a paper cup. You see us driving with one hand on the wheel and another holding a travel mug.

It occurred to me this morning, while thinking about 9/11, thinking about what's important and what isn't, that if I really like coffee, if it is really more than just a habit, that I ought to sit down, take five or ten minutes and enjoy it.

Today especially, eight years on since that horrible Tuesday morning of September 11, 2001, we all could use a pause. Take a few moments to remember the victims, their families and the heroes of that day. Just take a few moments and consider what it means to be an American and how that changed eight years ago.

Take a few minutes and enjoy a nice cup of coffee. Please. Do it in honor of those friends, neighbors, business associates and strangers who were just arriving at work that morning, carrying a nice cup of coffee and a bagel; or those who had been at their desk for a while and were thinking about having a second cup. Have a nice cup of coffee today. Seriously. But while you do, don't forget those who had their last cup of coffee that morning. Never forget about them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Human Trafficking Supply Chain

Suppliers and Consumers
When we talk about the international trade in illegal drugs, we sometimes talk about supplier countries and consumer countries. There is supply and there is demand, connected by a supply chain. Likewise, human trafficking is a supply chain business estimated at over $9 billion / year.

Poverty and lack of education and awareness create vulnerability. The most vulnerable, the children of the poor, are the primary supply source for human traffickers.

For those victims who are trafficked for "simple forced labor", the demand is a matter of greed, absent oversight of working conditions and broken economies. When victims are trafficked into the sex trade, the demand question is even uglier. Call it an addiction, depravity or what you will. There would be no trade without consumers.

What can we do?
What we must do is intervene where we can, anywhere along the chain. Education, economic development and law enforcement are just three of the possible interventions. Born To Fly International emphasizes education. Today is a great day to help them out. RIGHT NOW, they are in the midst of a one-day fundraiser... looking for 9,000 gifts of $9 so they can go to press with their first wordless children's book. Please help out at and then tell a friend!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fanatic At Large

William Wilberforce, the great British abolitionist once said, “If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” I do not have the passion or persistence of Wilberforce but I know that his work is not done. Although the British Empire abolished the slave trade during his lifetime and slavery as an institution soon after his death in 1833, the buying, selling and exploitation of our “fellow-creatures” continues today, in 2009.

The problem of human trafficking and modern day slavery is massive and reaches nearly every country. It almost seems too big, too widespread to defeat but the size of our foe should not determine the size of our fight. We must persist. We must do what we can. Mother Theresa said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”

As I have been writing about for several days (this is the eighth of nine blogs on the topic), Diana Scimone, Founder and President of Born To Fly International, is one of those "fanatics at large" who cares beyond all normal measure for her "fellow creatures." Her organization is working against human trafficking and deserves our help and support. Tomorrow, 9-9-9, they are looking for 9,000 friends who can spare a mere $9 each to help them publish educational materials aimed at raising awareness of children and parents around the world. Please take a look:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Seven of Nine... Resistance Is Futile

Seven Of Nine

Okay, I admit it. That's a shameless attempt to attract trekkies to this blog. But now that you're here, please read on. This is day seven of nine of blogging and tweeting about human trafficking and, more specifically, asking for your support of Born To Fly International (

For better or worse, the Star Trek franchise has always contained subplots rich in social commentary. Ocassionally compelling, some were subtle allegory while others were awkward and contrived. The clearest statement on racism, for example, was made in Let That Be Your Last Battlefield (original air date 1/10/69). But what of Seven of Nine, the Star Trek: Voyager character played by Jeri Ryan, who has been rescued from the Borg collective. What do she and the Borg represent? Her presence on Voyager gives the lie to the Borg claim "You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." The Borg are the ultimate human traffickers, in fact enslaving humanoid races from across the galaxy, turning their captives into cyborgs and submerging all personality and individuality deep below the collective consciousness.

The complete dehumanization perpetrated by the Borg seems to most of us something that would only happen in science fiction, centuries and light-years away. Yet, something equally horrific happens every hour of the day, today, right now on planet Earth. Children are sold, abducted and enslaved in the sex trade and other forms of forced labor. For most, resistance truly is futile. It is difficult to imagine how the tide can be turned against this industry, estimated at over $9 billion each year.

We cannot accept futility.
We must believe that we can do something. We must do something. Initiatives are in play all over the world. In the big cities, even Chicago area, where I am writing, law enforcement is stepping up its efforts. Yes, human trafficking, modern day slavery exists right here in "The Land of Lincoln." Across the world, relief agencies are working against the social and economic roots of the problem. Others are working to educate children and their parents so they can avoid falling prey to the traffickers. Born To Fly hopes to raise about $81,000 this week to publish trans-cultural educational resoureces to accomplish just that. This is a "crowdfunding" effort. They're really just looking for about $9 from each of about 9,000 people. If you can help, please visit

Resistance is not futile.

PS: Monday, September 7th is the Labor Day holiday. I'm posting early so I can take a day off-line. Have a great day!

On One Thing, We Can Agree

Day 6 of 9 on Human Trafficking and In Support of Born To Fly International

God Is With The Vulnerable And Poor
Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in February of 2006, U2 star Bono said that "all faiths and ideologies" can agree on one thing, "that God is with the vulnerable and poor. "

The children of the poor are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. They are the victims of choice for human traffickers. A friend of mine who as a child was among the invisible street children of Kolkata, tells of his childhood friends who simply disappeared. Their families had no resources and no voice. When a child disappeared, he or she was simply gone.

Let Your Light RiseBono reminds us that if we want to align our heart with God's heart, then our heart will be with the poor. "God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house… God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives… God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war… God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them. 'If you remove the yolk from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom with become like midday and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places.'"

That passage from Isaiah 58 is but one of more than 2,100 that mention the poor and to make it clear that those of us who have plenty bear a responsibility to those who have less than enough. Speaking of the poor, Jesus said, 'As you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.' (Matthew 25:40).

What Can You Do For The Least Of These?
There is no shortage of choices. Here are two.

Sponsor A Child Today Through Compassion International When you sponsor a child through Compassion, you make a huge difference in the life of that child and help to break the cycle of poverty and extreme vulnerability.

Support Born To Fly International's Education Campaign Born To Fly has prepared educational materials about the perils of human trafficking, suitable for children and parents in any culture. They need your help to go to press and begin to distribute these materials to waiting schools, churches and relief agencies.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Simple Numbers

Day 5 of tweeting and blogging in support of Born To Fly International's crowdfunding campaign.

The numbers behind the campaign:

The goal is to raise $81,000 by asking 9,000 to chip in $9 by 9-9-9.

How do we find 9,000 people?

I tell 9 people. We are 10.
Those 9 each tell 9 more. 81 new people. We are 91.
The next 81 each tell 9 more. 729 new people. We are 820.
The next 729 each tell 9 more. 6,561 new people. We are 7,381.
The next 6,561 each tell 9 more. 59,049 new people. We are 66,430.

It night not go exactly like that, but it could. The numbers are simple.
Your $9 contribution is hugely important. But please, tell a friend or two or three or nine and ask them to pass it on!

Participate. Encourage others. Simple.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thank God It's Friday?

Why do we thank God for Fridays? Really, there isn't anything more reliable in our lives than the rising and setting of the sun. Once in every seven times, we call it Friday. So what's the big deal?

For most of us, "Thank God it's Friday" is a way of saying how glad we are that the relative freedom of the weekend is at hand. But for many, there is no meaningful freedom, neither on the weekend nor on any other day. Among these are the millions of victims of human trafficking, living in some form of modern-day slavery, in forced labor, in the sex trade, deprived of any form of personal freedom.

This is day four of my nine-day tweet-and-blogathon in support of Born To Fly International. If you haven't already visited their site (, please do so between now and 9-9-9 and chip in nine bucks if you can. While you're there, please take some time to read about their work and the massive problem they are committed to fight. If you haven't already told a friend, please do so today. And when you do, please ask them to tell a friend too.

Thanks and... Let's not take our freedom for granted this weekend.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I was nine years old when I was abducted

I was nine years old when I was abducted. True story. I was nine years old when I was abducted, along with another boy, in New York's Riverside Park. One of the two abductors claimed to have a gun in his pocket. We had no choice but to believe him. The details of what happened next aren't particularly important. What is important is how a nine year old boy feels in that situation. I was too naïve to know all of the possibilities. If I did, I'm sure I would have been even more scared than I was. Even so, I experienced the full measure of fear for my life.

Jaycee Dugard Crime Scene
The whole thing didn't last very long. By the grace of God, we were soon set free. These guys were just looking for some quick, sick "fun". We received good medical attention at the emergency room and were home with our families by evening. In spite of the short duration of the event and the lack of permanent physical injury, the events of that day left a deep and permanent impression.

Today, all these years later, I have a tiny window into the suffering felt by the victims of human trafficking. That's one of the reasons I am so passionate about the mission of organizations like Born To Fly International. A million kids lose their lives to human trafficking each year, not their physical lives, but their future. Unless they are among the fortunate few who are rescued and given a chance to reclaim their future, all of their rights and opportunities, their hopes and dreams - all that makes one truly alive, is stolen from them.

Human trafficking, violence against the weak and exploitation of the vulnerable are massive problems with many variations, from small parallel stories like mine and bigger stories like Jaycee Dugard's 18-year imprisonment, to the $9 billion worldwide organized sex trade. There is no single solution. The problem must be confronted from many angles. We can all do SOMETHING. Will you join me between now and 9-9-9, next Wednesday, by chipping in at least $9 to Born To Fly International's education project? Click here to visit their web site.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nine! Nine! Nine!

"Nine! Nine! Nine!" sounds just like "Nein! Nein! Nein!" but it's not. (Nicht nein sage ich "No! No! No!" auf Deutsch. )

Nine Means Yes
Instead of "No! No! No!" I'm asking you to say "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

In seven days, on 9-9-9 Born To Fly International is looking for nine-thousand nine-dollar contributions so they can go to press with educational materials to raise awareness about child human trafficking for at-risk children and their parents around the world.

So can you spare a NINE? (Do you ever wonder why the United States Treasury doesn't print nine-dollar bills? Honestly, neither do I.)

Please visit Born To Fly International and read about their work. Please consider a $9 gift. If you think this is important, tell 9 friends. Then, if you can, please think of 9 other ways you can help support this important cause.

You could...
  • Write nine blog posts (sound familiar?)
  • Post nine Twitter updates
  • Find nine related links and share them on Facebook or wherever you share stuff
No Big Commitment Required, Just Do SOMETHING
This is no big commitment. You can help this good organization achieve an important milestone and then go back to whatever it is you do. But please do something between now and 9-9-9. Share 9 bucks. Tell 9 friends. Whatever... This is a good idea and as Harvey Mackay says, "Getting a good idea should be like sitting on a pin. It should make you jump up and do something!"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Better than sudoku, a numbers game that can save a life

No Sudoku For Me

I don’t play Sudoku but I do enjoy an occasional numbers game. Well, here’s something that grabbed my attention – a play on the number nine that has nothing to do with fun and games. On 9/9/9, Born to Fly International ( is asking you to consider a $9 donation to support their extremely important cause. It would be really cool if you would also tell 9 friends about it. Nine of your dollars plus nine of your friends on 9/9/9. How cool is that?

So what is this important cause anyway?

What? The cool numbers game isn’t enough? Of course not. Okay. Let’s get serious. Born to Fly was founded by veteran journalist Diana Scimone to help fight the hideous practice of human trafficking – especially the enslavement of young children in the sex trade. What could be more heinous and more exploitive? The mission at Born to Fly is educating kids and their parents about the dangers of trafficking, with the ultimate goal of ending it. They have been working on a wordless book that teaches kids to make wise choices – wordless so they don’t have to translate it into hundreds of languages. Along with a companion curriculum, the wordless book is nearly ready for publication. That’s where you come in. Born to Fly needs funding to get the materials published and into the waiting hands of schools, missions and aid organizations. Your $9 donation might just make the crucial difference in a child’s life.

Check it out!

Visit Read about it. Think about it. Pray about it. Do something about it.