I'll be honest. All this chicken talk has been wearing me out. It's been so loud and polarizing in a way that makes me wonder if we'll ever get it right. Really, do our voices ever change things anyway?
I suppose it depends on the battles we choose.
A couple months ago I sat in a room with five incredible people talking about ways to stop child sex slavery and exploitation. During the course of the conversation, Glenn Miles, Love146's director of Asia Prevention told us about a book that was sold on Amazon.com called Age of Consent: A Sex Tourists Guide. The basis of this book was to inform people about the varying ages of consent in different countries so as not to get in trouble with the law while engaging in sex with children. It wasn't buried in some shady back room bookstore, it was the first book to come up under a search for sex tourism on Amazon's site. And yes, these are the kinds of materials our right to free speech protects here in America. Thankfully that doesn't mean that there's nothing we can do about it.
The book description stated,
"In some countries it is even illegal to have sex outside of marriage, with severe consequences if you are caught doing so! On the flipside, there are many countries on this planet where the age of consent is as low as 12 or 13... This $3.49 will keep you out of jail, possibly the most important few dollars that any red blooded testosterone pumped traveller will spend."
There is an obvious connection between child sex trafficking and exploitation and sex tourism. The fact that type of material is so readily available on a popular site like Amazon is sickening. While people like Glenn are over in Asia fighting this atrocity, we're over here pumping out ideas on how to make exploiting children easier.
Fast forward to yesterday, when Love146 launched their new Task Force Community website. When viewing the site, one of the first things to see was an "Action Opportunity," which encouraged people to contact Amazon and ask them to protect children by removing the ebook from their site and consider better screening options for the products they sell. As Amazon has responded well in the past to situations like this, Love146 urged people not to boycott, but to respectfully explain their position. A sample letter was given, along with the phone number to contact Amazon. What a great reminder that our posture towards people is important.
The phone call took five minutes of my time, and the woman on the other side of the line was equally appalled that such a book would be sold by Amazon. I went on with my day and logged onto facebook tonight to see that the huffingtonpost had picked up the story and by 8:35 tonight, the book was off the site.
Oh my goodness.
Just like that, it worked. There was no need to badmouth Amazon; they heard. Obviously, my one voice was not what removed this book from Amazon's site. What did remove it was the collective shout of many voices that were willing to speak up to protect the most vulnerable. As my friend who was part of the initial conversation two months ago put it, "From idea to change in 60 days!" From opportunity to action in 24 hours.
I know my friends over at Love146 are flying high right now, as well as every individual and task force that was a part of this. We really can make a difference in this world. Our voices matter. Using them is meaningful, even when everything else seems to say, "It is what it is; why bother trying to change things?"
What a lie.
So thankful and motivated right now by this beautiful glimpse of seeing that our voices, raised together, can bring about change. Small steps make a big difference. Next time I consider walking away because an action just seems too little and insignificant, I'll remember this moment.