Monday, April 30, 2012


My boss brought a puzzle into our office the other day. We haven’t had a whole lot going on in our office lately, we’ve been in a bit of a holding pattern, so she thought it would be a fun thing to complete during breaks and lunch time.  The puzzle is a beautiful Van Gough painting of a terra cotta vase with flowers. The entire thing is in muted orange, green, gray and red tones. So, as you can imagine, it was really hard to put together!

We’ve spent hours piecing together the intricate design of the puzzle. Its been frustrating and I’ve wanted to give up several times. I’d find myself trying to force pieces of the puzzle into places they didn’t fit. I’d convince myself that they fit, only to have to take apart that section later when the picture would not come together. I even joked with my boss that I wanted to go buy an easier puzzle at Wal-mart and put it together instead. That way I didn’t ‘give up’ on the first puzzle, I just moved on to the next project. But, even though the puzzle was frustrating and confusing, the futher along we got in piecing it together, the more beautiful it became. Each individual flower, the delicate strokes of the vase, and the mint green background of the painting all came together to form a beautiful piece of art in puzzle form.
The puzzle reminds me of our lives as Christians. Walking with the Lord is easily compared to a puzzle. Each small piece goes together perfectly to form the big picture of our lives.  God made the puzzle and knows the big picture. He knows where each small piece goes.  I know God can put each person’s life puzzle together without our help, but I think ‘active waiting’ is what He desires for us. My Pastor, Louie Giglio, talked about this two Sundays ago. He made reference to Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart”. Louie went on to talk more about the context of this verse. Verse 3 says “Trust in the Lord, and do good.” Verse 7 says “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”. This passage in context is essentially saying ‘wait with God’, do good while waiting. Don’t sit in the arm chair of life, staring at the pieces of the puzzle, asking God to come in and save the day. But we also can’t snatch away the pieces of our puzzle and try to piece them together. We must wait with God, work with God, and He will come through.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not good at the waiting game.  I often get frustrated and confused at the direction of my life. I struggle with having faith in God’s plan and timing and frequently find myself looking for the next thing to come. 2012 has been an especially difficult year in the terms of my life ‘puzzle’. My husband and I have faced spiritual struggles, job loss, financial insecurity, and broken vehicles- just to name a few of the stressors. We’ve questioned God’s plans for our lives both separately and together. My prayer has often been pretty whiny  “Lord, if you have big plans, why are you letting this happen? We were going to pay off half our debt this year. We were planning on serving you in bigger ways. Why did you mess up our plans?”
The key word there is ‘OUR’. I had a plan, I had it all figured out. I wanted to put my life puzzle together without God’s help. It would be comparable to trying to put together a 1000 piece puzzle without having the picture on the box. The Lord said “I know the plans I have for you….plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). He made our life puzzle and wants to put it together with us. I just have to relinquish control and allow Him to guide the process. He knows the big picture, He has the master plan.
So the next time you sit down to put together a complicated puzzle, think about Jesus. Think about the big plans He has for you and the fantastic adventures He has in store. If two pieces fit together perfectly, think about the times that God has revealed to you a piece of the big picture of your life or when His provision has come through in incredible ways. When you try to force a piece in the wrong place, think about the lessons you’ve learned when you’ve tried to do things your own way. And as the big picture of the puzzle you’re building comes together, it’ll make you smile to think about how God is putting together the puzzle of your life each and every day.

Friday, April 27, 2012

{features} Who are you?

Who are you? A student, business owner, social worker, teacher, wife, mother? Are you a pastor, community leader? A medical professional or a lawyer? Do you identify yourself as a person of faith? We all have multiple roles and groups that we identify with. We may think that we have influence or power within our groups, or we may think that we are powerless to affect our surroundings.

Not for Sale's message is built around the premise that you CAN do something. If you care even a little bit about ending slavery in our lifetime, this organization wants to use you to make a difference. They want to get you connected through their Community Abolitionist Network (CAN) so you can make a difference within your sphere of influence and beyond.

I have felt crippled in the past by what I lacked. I felt like I didn't have the experience or education to make a difference. I felt that the people around me did not take me seriously and did not want to hear what I had to say. I grew up in a pretty conservative environment, so I frequently felt like being a young female with an opinion was looked down upon. I got the proverbial 'sweet little idealistic girl' pat on the head a lot. I heard "Oh to be young and to think you can change the world" more times than I can count.  It was a lonely place to be. I'll admit that I can be over the top, and people don't really want to hear about slavery, poverty, or famine over dinner. I get that. I've been working on a balance, making sure I'm respectful in my causes (see my post "Everyday Sales").  But regardless, I wanted to do more, I just didn't know how.

Well, Not for Sale is mobilizing DOERS. They don't care who you are, they believe that you- that's right, YOU can make a difference. Whether you have a high school diploma or a PHD, you can make a difference. Stay at home mom, business owner? You can make a difference. Student or teacher? You can make a difference too. I heard on several occasions at the Backyard Academy that Not for Sale's founder, David Batstone, was notorious for hearing people's ideas and telling them to go do them. One couple, Brad and Lanie Beth Sinclair, shared with us their experiences working with David and developing a line of fair trade denim. I'll be sure to post the info about their jeans after they are available. Lanie Beth's blog is The Grateful Girl's guide to style, I'd highly recommend it. She and her husband are awesome and Brent and I really enjoyed meeting and talking with them. Their story is a great example of how anyone can make a difference. They've jumped right into tackling modern day slavery in a way that is unique to them. I met two girls at the conference, Casey Carroll and Amy Jo Syck who have been designing and making jewelry to fight slavery. Their website is Saving Grace, and they have an Etsy shop to sell their products. Their products are beautiful and I know they're going to do some cool stuff in the movement.

You don't have to come up with a fair trade line of jeans (although if you did, I'd probably buy a pair), and you have to travel around the world to fight slavery (it's fun though, I'd recommend it). You can use your gifts and your talents. Not for Sale's Community Abolitionist Network wants YOU to join the fight and to work alongside them. Jill Morris leads the Community Abolitionist Network in Not for Sale's main office and she is awesome. She's great at mobilizing people to action and is extremely passionate and encouraging. I loved a quote from her at the conference. "Look closer and love deeper". Examine where you are, what's going on around you, and how you can get involved. There's a great Community Abolitionist Network chapter in Georgia and there are chapters in other states as well. Check out the Action section of Not for Sale's website and see the many ways you can get involved.

A quote from the conference sums up this post quite nicely. I probably could have spared you all my words and just given you this quote, but I'll just end with it:

Whatever you do, you can do it in the direction of freedom. - Jono Hirt, Not for Sale

Thursday, April 26, 2012

{features} Keep your eyes open

If you could soldier on, headstrong into the storm
I'll be here waiting on the other side don't
Look back the road is long, the first days of the war are gone
Take back your former throne and turn the tide

'Cus if you never leave home, never let go
You'll never make it to the great unknown
Till you keep your eyes... open my love

So tell me you're strong, tell me you see
I need to hear it, can you promise me
To keep your eyes... open my love

Just past the circumstance, the first light a second chance
No child could ever dance the way you do oh
Tear down the prison walls, don't stop the curtain calls
Your chains will never fall until you do

'Cus if you never leave home, never let go
You'll never make it to the great unknown
Till you keep your eyes... open my love

So show me your fire, show me your heart
You know I'll never let you fall apart
If you keep your eyes... open my love - Needtobreathe
This song kept running through my head as I research and drafted this post. Needtobreathe is one of my favorite bands. This is a pretty inspiring song, you can watch the official music video on youtube here. It reminds me of bravery, the importance of keeping our eyes open and pressing on towards our goals.

My hope is that we can all work together to keep our eyes open in our community. These atrocities could be happening on your street, behind the scenes of your favorite restaurant. I wrote about the restaurant in Woodstock, Georgia that was allegedly using slave labor. I was messing with SlaveryMap at the end of our mapping session at the Backyard Academy and showed the listing in Woodstock to a friend of mine sitting next to me. She gasped and said that she and her mother (in law? I can't remember) used to dine at that restaurant pretty regularly. It's pretty sobering to think about the times you came into contact with people who were likely being held against their will. I know its happened to me before. I went to Haiti in 2010 after the earthquake to participate in a relief project. Our host had three young girls and one older woman living in his home. His wife didn't live in the home, just him, a few men, and the women. They cleaned, cooked, didn't say much. I didn't think much of it because the norm in parts of the developing world is to hire housekeepers to help with tasks. In a lot of cases its a good way to earn income.

One year after completing my trip to Haiti I read a book by E. Benjamin Skinner called 'A Crime so Monstrous'. In this book he details the plight of restaveks, young children who are enslaved in domestic servitude. This practice is common and culturally accepted, even by clergy and other prominent moral figures. You can read a CNN article about restaveks here, or read Skinner's book.  My heart sank when I realized that it was very possible that I came into contact with young victims. I want to be clear, I do not KNOW that our host was perpetuating this social ill and owned slaves, the clues just seemed to add up in my head. I would hate for someone to think I was accusing him of doing something so atrocious, the situation just felt 'off' while I was there.

David Batstone, the founder of Not for Sale, had an instance of slavery in his community shocked him into action. Here's the direct quote from the Not for Sale website
"I read in a local paper that one of my favorite Indian restaurants in the Bay Area had been trafficking women from India to wash dishes, cook meals and other tasks. The story came out when a young woman, Chianti Pratipatta died of a gas leak in an unventilated apartment owned by the proprietor of the restaurant, who forced Chianti and others into slavery under threat of reporting their illegal presence to the authorities.
This was happening in my country at a restaurant I frequented. My shock turned into a consuming passion that took me around the world to learn more about how slavery flourishes in the shadows.
I also learned about the solutions. I met heroes. Modern-day abolitionists fighting trafficking and slavery on the front lines. And I knew I had to do something. Not for Sale combines technology, intellectual capital, abolitionist groups and a growing network of individuals like yourself – joined together to end slavery in our lifetime.
Welcome to the movement."
My memory of my time in Haiti, the accounts of slavery cases in my own community, and stories like David Batstone's remind me of the need for us to, like the song, 'keep our eyes open'. Be brave, be smart. Do research, understand the situation. Then, look around. Take note of what is happening in your community. There are a ton of resources for how you could potentially identify situations that aren't quite right. You don't have to do the investigating, you can just call a hotline number. The Polaris project has a great fact sheet with a hotline you can view to learn how you can play your part in identifying potential slavery situations. We can all play our part in ending these heinous crimes, and sending a message to traffickers that this is NOT okay and we will NOT tolerate it. Let's work together to keep our eyes open so we can discover and shine light into the darkness of slavery in our communities.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

{features} Shopping

I'm continuing my Not for Sale {features} today with one of my favorite subjects- shopping! Well, in my pre-student loans single years, shopping was one of my favorite subjects. It doesn't happen as much now, except for groceries and the occasional impulse buy at Target. We are so blessed in the United States with so many options. We have numerous grocery stores, specialty shops. We can choose if we want our style to be preppy, boho, hipster, or simple. The possibilities are endless. We take food to a completely different level. I've been to 14 counties and our grocery stores are unmatched. We take food very seriously, and usually its pretty fabulous. I mean, obesity is running rampant, but that's a topic to discuss in another post. I know I take for granted the infinite choices at my fingertips.

But there's a dark side behind our infinite choices and plethora of products at our fingertips. It's easy to forget about the people who make our products. Sex trafficking is a huge issue. It traumatizes women, girls and boys, and leads to lifelong issues that are difficult to recover from. But there are far more individuals who are victims of labor trafficking than sex trafficking. There are 9 victims of labor trafficking to every 1 victim of sex trafficking. (Polaris Project)

Many of these trafficked individuals are making our clothes. They're harvesting the cocoa and cacao beans to make our chocolate and coffee. They are picking our produce. This is a huge social issue. I don't want to get on my soapbox, but it disturbs me that while we have labor laws in the United States, minimum wage and organized unions to protect workers from being exploited. But the vast majority of our products made overseas are subject to no such regulations. There is a lack of concern from companies, simply due to a lack of concern from their consumers. We have been primarily concerned with price, quantity, and quality. It's easy to forget that someone made that dress, picked that tomato, and harvested that cocoa. I've been ruminating on this issue for years, and felt pretty helpless. I could find fair trade coffee and chocolate, and a few clothing items, but it was almost impossible to live a fair trade lifestyle, especially if one is a college student or a social worker on a budget.

But Not for Sale is trying to change all that. They've introduced Free2Work, a smartphone app and website that grades companies on several elements to determine their ethical practices. Free2Work is excellent. They've been consistently adding companies, and they want to work with companies that have bad grades in order to improve their score. And the data isn't completely depressing. I was happy to see that Gap, inc received a B- score for their products. It's not perfect, but they are making strides in ensuring their products are slave free.

As a result of efforts like Free2Work and other consumer pressure, chocolate companies like Hershey's are beginning to acknowledge that they are ignorant about their supply chains. They realize this needs to change. I found this article that reports on Hershey's announcement to introduce fair trade products into the market. It's not perfect, but its progress. Trader Joe's just signed the fair food agreement to begin to certify their produce as ethical. Change is happening.

The Free2Work app has encouraged me that I'm not alone in the fight against labor trafficking and slavery. It's given me practical steps to take to ensure I'm making good decisions regarding my consumerism. It's been encouraging to see the progress as a result of efforts from Not for Sale and others. We will win this fight against slavery. I hope you have a few moments to check out the Free2Work app or website. It's really interesting and you may be surprised to learn about some of the companies listed.We can change the world, one purchase at a time.

"Don't buy someone else's misery"- Kevin Austin, Not for Sale

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

{features} Mapping it out

I'm continuing my series of {features} posts on the Not for Sale campaign today with a look at one of their most innovative and fascinating projects. SlaveryMap is Not for Sale's mapping feature that gives ordinary people the power to report and research slavery incidents around the world. Here's the description from the SlaveryMap website:
"Every captive is a person; every survivor has a story. It's time to show the world that slaves exist among us. Restaurants and fields, construction sites and brothels, suburbs and cities: all are home to victims of trafficking in the United States and abroad. Twenty-seven million slaves in the world, and we want to find them.
SlaveryMap exists to record and display instances of human trafficking across the globe. Whether you find them hidden in your hometown or covered in The New York Times, report the incidents onto this map for people everywhere to see. If you encounter a current situation of bondage, do not enter the information here. Please immediately call the US national trafficking hotline number so that the proper law enforcement and service providers can be alerted: 1-888-3737-888.
All you need to do to get started is create a login account. Join with your friends, your school, your community and Abolitionists throughout the world. Together, we will finally put a face to this epidemic.
Welcome to the movement."
I had the privilege of attending a breakout session on strategic investigation at the Backyard Academy. The facilitator, Jono, shared with us the concept of SlaveryMap and how you and I can be involved in reporting incidents. The site is monitored to ensure that the identities of victims are not disclosed, and you must request permission to post on the site. Jono explained that most contributors use news reports and other public data to post on the map. I imagine you could post information provided by non profit organizations, but it is important to maintain confidentiality and to protect victims. Jono expressed their desire to protect victims, they request that identifying information not be posted on the map.

I've been exploring SlaveryMap for the past couple of days and I have found some fascinating information. Many of the reports on the map have links to the actual news reports and information about the incident, so that has been helpful for me as I've done research. I feel like the links also help verify information. Many of us don't truly believe that slavery exists in our communities. I did a search of a couple communities and turned up some interesting information. First example: Woodstock, Georgia, my hometown. Woodstock is a middle class, fairly affluent community that has traditionally been very safe. Slavery Map has two reported incidents of slavery in Woodstock in the last couple of years. The first incident was a case of domestic servitude, where a Forsyth County police officer enslaved a woman from India in his home. The second was at the La Cabana Restaurant on Main Street, where the owner was apparently smuggling underage girls into the United States and forcing them to pay their 'debts' by performing sexual acts. Second example: Sandy Springs, Georgia, my current city of residence. Sandy Springs is also an affluent city just north of Atlanta. One incident of slavery was reported there, from an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article. A man was arrested for raping and prostituting a 14 year old girl.

SlaveryMap doesn't have all incidents of slavery that have been reported, and it certainly does not display all the incidents of slavery in the world. Right now there are over 1,600 cases on the map. I reported the statistic that there are 27 million slaves in the world today, here's another article verifying that number. The Polaris Project has a fact sheet of statistics on human trafficking numbers that list a variety of statistics on Slavery around the world and in the United States. There could be up to 300,000 children prostituted in our country right now. I've read some statistics that the State Department estimates that 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year, but I can't find a verified article with that number, it's mostly from websites. Regardless, SlaveryMap is seeking to expose these cases for the general population.

Not for Sale is looking for people to contribute to SlaveryMap, and they want people to be aware of what is going on in their community. Check out the SlaveryMap website website to see what is going on in your community. Awareness is the first step for all of us, and it leads to action, which leads to change.

Monday, April 23, 2012

{features} Not for Sale

I spent this past weekend at one of the most encouraging and fantastic conferences I have ever had the opportunity to attend,  Not for Sale's Backyard Academy. It was incredible, I would highly recommend it.

Not for Sale is an abolitionist organization that seeks to end human trafficking and modern day slavery in a variety of ways. My biggest take-away from the conference was Not for Sale's belief that ANYONE can be an abolitionist. I had the opportunity to meet many people taking part in the movement to end slavery. This is a huge social issue that will take all of us to truly end its atrocities. Its not just overseas, its not just in the inner cities, it's everywhere. There are twenty seven million slaves in the world. This number was first published by Kevin Bales in his book Disposable People, but you can find that number from a variety of sources, including resources published by Not for Sale.  This organization truly has something for everyone. There is something you can do, regardless of your age, education, and experience.

I've spent years being a 'slacktivist', thinking that I needed to have an advanced degree and tons of experience before I could truly take part in this movement. I subconsciously allowed my 'goals' to paralyze me from truly taking action. Granted, I signed petitions, followed and advocated legislation, educated those in my sphere of influence. I've read over ten books on this issue and could rattle off more statistics than the average person. I've researched and written papers and incorporated my school work to educate myself and others on this issue. I've traveled to several places where I interacted and attempted to help groups vulnerable to exploitation. I spent countless hours educating (or annoying) my friends. But I don't believe I've fully used all my gifts and passion to truly take action. Now I have my advanced degree and my several years of experience, and I still feel like I'm searching for the 'next thing'.

Not for Sale has something for everyone. There is something you can do, regardless of your age, education, and experience. I'm going to take this week and highlight the many different ways this exceptional organization wants your involvement to make a difference. Topics will be coming soon, but I hope to cover a variety of ways you and I can make a difference. I'm finished sitting on the sidelines, using my 'next thing' as my excuse to not be fully invested in abolishing slavery and other social ills. We have a responsibility to make a difference, and we CAN make a difference.

I really can't wait to explore this with you. Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rice and Beans

It's rice and beans week at the Laney's. It's part fridge clean-out, part charity, and part empathy building. Once a quarter my husband Brent and I don't spend our normal grocery budget on groceries. We purchase a couple essential items: a little milk, bread, rice, and beans. All of our meals for the whole week come from whatever is in our home and those few purchases.

This idea came about this past summer. Brent and I are both news junkies, and found ourselves affected greatly by the dire famine in Eastern Africa. Massive droves of Somali refugees flooded the Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya. People were dying of numerous malnutrition-related diseases. The organization Care has a good description of the Dadaab camp and the food crisis in the Horn of Africa You can check it out here.

The drought made me uncomfortable. I felt powerless and helpless as I looked at picture after picture of malnourished babies, the masses of suffering people and the extreme lack of supplies. Usually I would look, and perhaps share a few articles telling people that we need to take action. I'd contact a few congressmen and would ask them to send aid. Then I'd move on with my life. But this time I wanted to do more. Brent wanted to do more. We discussed our options and came up with 'Rice and Beans Week'. It was a spin off from a movement I had seen on Facebook for people to eat rice and beans for lent. We decided to donate all of our grocery money for one week to one of our favorite humanitarian organizations, Samaritan's Purse. Samaritan's Purse is excellent, I have seen their work firsthand in several countries and completely trust their financials. They are truly seeking to care for the suffering in the name of Jesus, and they do it well.

The week was great. We got creative with our rice and beans. We cleaned out our fridge, using condiments and leftovers to add to our meal. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, and drank water instead of juice or coke. We used spices to add flavor and variety. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to make 'Rice and Beans Week' a quarterly occurrence. We have never experienced true hunger, but eliminating comfort foods and the plethora of options we usually enjoy is a good reminder of our blessings. We are able to donate extra money apart from our normal giving to help people who are truly suffering. It hasn't been difficult finding humanitarian crises or organizations to support. There is plenty of need. For this Rice and Beans Week, we will be donating our money to support those affected by the crisis in the Sahel. This is a dramatic situation that is getting worse by the day. You can read about the Sahel crisis here or here. We don't know what organization we will support yet, but will figure that out by the end of this week.

'Rice and Beans Week' seems like such a small way to try to help people who are suffering in massive ways. I acknowledge that. I know that our seventy dollars won't change the world. But it could save several lives. Also, I remember that small things done by many people equal big change. If every person in the United States gave their grocery budget once a quarter to help those suffering from starvation and malnutrition, we could make big changes- we could change the world. So I refuse to live in my apathy, I'm not going to turn off the TV and go about my life. I'm taking small steps to change the world. You're welcome to join me.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Chocolate

I love Cadbury creme eggs. I mean, I really love them. The creamy chocolate, the thick, creamy center- it's plain delicious. I always look forward to this time of year, when Cadbury Creme Eggs are everywhere. My husband has bought me several this year and has hidden them around our apartment for me to 'find'. The best ones are the ones imported from England. We go to a British store on the Marietta Square sometimes. The shop owner imports her chocolate directly from England. It may be psychological, but I think the imported ones are better. As you can see, I'm a big fan.

I'm not a big fan of slavery. I think it's pretty nasty. The idea of men, women and even children harvesting crops and making products I consume is a little nauseating. This practice is all too common in our world. I've been doing fairly extensive research, and its very difficult to live a completely slave free life. Check out Slavery Footprint to find out how many slaves likely work for you. It's unpleasant, but really good to know.

I follow several organizations on Twitter that track slavery. One of my favorites is the ap/twitter Free2Work. They track companies to determine the level of ethics in place when it comes to slavery, supply chains and overall ethical practices. I have the iphone ap, it's excellent and there are new companies added frequently. They grade each company on policies, transparency, monitoring, and worker rights to determine an overall grade.

So that takes me back to my beloved Cadbury Cream Eggs. Sadly, my beloved eggs got a D+ rating on free2work. My standard for a good company is much like my standard for my students: a B is the lowest grade that I consider 'good'. So a D+ isn't going to cut it for me. So, I dug a little deeper. It turns out that Cadbury production in the United States was purchsaed by Hershey in 1998. Cadbury in Europe and Australia has committed to fair trade and slave-free chocolate, but Hershey has not followed suit. See this article by Common Dreams, and this post by Global Exchange.

There is always a brief moment of depression that sets in when I realize that in order to commit to purchasing slave free products I have to give up something that I love. I thought that this post would conclude with me lamenting about my decision to give up these fabulous Easter treats. But we have good news! All my Atlanta 'peeps', head over to The Corner Shop on the Marietta Square. She imports her Easter Candy directly from the UK, and if my research is correct, the Cadbury Creme Eggs she sells are NOT produced by slaves. The cost is a little higher, but for me its worth it. If I'm going to commit to living a slave free lifestyle, I need to be as faithful as possible, even in the little things, like Easter Chocolate. If you aren't a Cadbury fan, check out this article by CNN that discusses Easter chocolate in general. There are a lot of ways we can work together to end Slavery, one piece of chocolate at a time.

I hope you have a wonderful Easter. HE is risen!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Everyday Sales

I'm currently reading Dave Ramsey's book, 'Entre Leadership'. I have to admit, at first I didn't see the need in me purchasing and reading this book. I didn't consider myself a leader or an entrepreneur. It took about one chapter to change my mind. 
 I'm not going to do a thorough book review or highlight all the many excellent aspects of Dave's book- I'm sure you can find numerous people who will give you that information. The book is full of leadership and business principles, but most, if not all, of these principles apply to the entry level employee or the unemployed. The book is as much about character as it is about business. I can be a leader in my job; I can be a leader in my areas of service.

 The chapter I just finished was one that I was pretty sure did not apply to me. I approached this chapter on sales with halfhearted interest, only determined to read it because I have to read a book in its entirety. And wow, I was certainly wrong about this chapter application in my life. You see, I've always had issues with 'sales people'. I don't enjoy people coming up to me in stores when I'm shopping, I don't like it when people try to sell me products. I've never enjoyed multi level marketing and get annoyed when 'friends' call me up to 'chat' in order to sell me their product. I'm just not a fan. Dave gave an illustration about pushy sales in the book: he likened it to the sales person being a hammer and the client was the nail. Ouch! I don't want to be a nail, with a sales person hammering me with information, facts, and pushy tactics in order to get me to buy into what he or she is selling.

But, this chapter has guided me into the realization that I am a salesperson. I'm in sales every day. At my job, I 'sold' people on the idea that their clients needed mental health services from our organization. I provide statistics, write grants, and attempted to serve other organizations in order to provide the best possible care to their clients. It was pretty easy for me to find a balance in this area. I think I did an okay job of not pressuring other providers. I gave them information and let them come to us. The same has applied at my teaching job. I 'sell' my students on the importance of their internship, the importance of coming to class and doing their assignments.

I'm also a salesperson in my daily life. This blog is called 'the Everyday Activist', because I've found that very few days go by where I don't think about, talk about, or do something about any of the causes in which I'm involved. I care deeply for people and I want to fight injustice. That's why I became a social worker, that's why I follow so many different charities and advocacy organizations. That's why I take part in the political process and why I talk about slavery and sweatshops at dinner parties. I feel like God made me to fight for justice. I'm deeply passionate about this area of my life. I feel like these causes are important, and should be important to everyone. So essentially I'm in 'sales' while in my fight for justice. But it’s been a humbling realization for me that just as much as I hate being 'hammered' by a Amway or Mary Kay salesperson, I can't 'hammer' people with my causes either. I have to be sensitive to the people I'm talking to, the people I spend time with. Some of them can't emotionally handle the grim facts surrounding slavery and trafficking. Some just don't care, and pushy behavior may just drive them further away. Of course, it would be just as easy to go to the other extreme and just give up. I've met many former activists and social workers who just gave up and became jaded towards the causes they once so passionately fought for. I don't want to enter into that realm either.

I have many nuggets of truth I'm taking away from 'Entre Leadership'. Today's nugget is essentially about finding balance in my 'sales'. I don't want to hammer my loved ones into embracing the causes. I need to approach this area with sensitivity, intelligence, patience, and much prayer. I want you to be disgusted by slavery. I want you to reach out to help your impoverished neighbors. I want you to buy products made in fair labor factories and fields. I want you to contact your representatives about slavery, the LRA, child protection, fair labor practices, and other local and global issues. But I don't want to be a hammer. I'm trying to sell you into fighting for justice and helping those who are desperate need of intervention. I passionately believe in this 'product' so I'm going to attempt to approach my activism with sensitivity. Some things make me angry, and righteous anger is justified. But at the end of the day I want love to be what we're selling, love that ultimately is manifested through the fight to end injustice around our world.