“Why Rare is Risk”
This week has been a whole jumble of thoughts and experiences for me. I started Monday, already on the back-foot after a tiring week at SWC, but nevertheless, determined to deal with the tasks for the week. However, Monday was one of those extraordinary days where, on reflection, it would have been impossible to predict the day’s events before they began.
When I logged onto the internet, I was ambushed with pages of news reports and Facebook updates indicating uncontrollable rioting in my home country England. As I looked at the pictures, it was like watching a movie – image after image of people violently assaulting their own cities. It was the kind of thing we like to think ‘would never happen in my neighbourhood’. It still didn’t really hit home until I saw video footage of one of my old streets in Birmingham – young people who I had lived alongside for 3 years were tearing through the streets incited with hatred and anger, violently destroying ‘my home’.
It’s scary to consider that these tendencies might be in all of us all along. That given a very specific set of situations or circumstances, we might just do the exact same thing. Interestingly, the past two weeks we have been reading ‘The Tipping Point’ as part of the Fellowship course, which deals with similar thoughts – what factors shape a movement, or ‘tip’ specific behaviours into epidemics? What causes people to do what they may not naturally do?
In a few leaps you can find yourself translating this information into other contexts, and wondering what circumstances and situations may provoke somebody to become a trafficker, or what might compel parents to sell a child into slavery? If it is evident that ‘normal’ people have the propensity to so easily do ‘bad’ things, then what do we do when ‘bad’ becomes normal or acceptable?
I believe the answer is that our conviction about whether something is right or wrong must be stronger than the outside influences of societal, political, or cultural pressure. These thoughts culminated at about 3am Saturday morning when I woke up with food poising from a meal I had eaten with friends the night before. It was the meat. I love ‘rare’ meat…but it’s a ‘risk’. Fortunately I had never had a bad experience until this weekend, but during a rather sleepless night, it got me to thinking about how taking risks isn’t necessarily very rare – people jump out of planes, go bungee jumping, bet in casinos and run red lights all the time. But on the flip side, doing something rare can be a big risk.
I think it is pretty rare for an organisation to publicly declare, as NFS does, that their aim is to re-abolish slavery in our lifetime. There is much risk, and much scope for failure – much like my unfortunate burger incident. I could have ordered a ‘medium’ burger like my sensible friend (who by all accounts seems fine), and had a great night’s sleep. However dinner, for me, would have been mediocre rather than excellent, and my thoughts about the week would have remained average. Risk taking by doing the ‘rare’, draws us out of certainty and safe, to possibility and new potential.
These ideas were re-iterated this evening by someone who was commenting on how devastating it can be in life to compare the difference between ‘who you are’, and ‘who you could have been’. This can also be applied to imagining the difference between ‘what has been achieved’, and ‘what could have been achieved’. Think of all the significant events in history which might never have been achieved if individuals had shied away from the ‘rare’ because the risk was too great. The Civil rights movement may have never occurred in the US without the Rare dedication of Martin Luther King, apartheid may never have been abolished in South Africa without the Rare perseverance of Nelson Mandela, and women in the UK and US may never have been granted the right to vote without the Rare fearlessness of many dedicated suffragettes.
Human trafficking and modern day slavery may continue to exist without the Rare actions of modern day abolitionists.
My hope is that one day abolition will no longer be ‘rare’, and as events ‘tipped’ in the UK this week, society’s response to slavery will also tip – it will no longer be acceptable. That is what makes working on the ‘Zero Tolerance Community’ platform so exciting; this week I was part of a meeting to discuss the ZTC approach, and it was exciting to really get to grips with the strategy behind the ideology. Nothing better minimises the potential ‘risk’ of ‘rare’ than a solid strategy!