One of the great things about working with Not For Sale is that we read a book every couple weeks. I love reading, but I never seem to have the time, so it’s nice to be required to do it. It especially comes in handy because any time I find myself in a situation of polite chit chat, people ask me what I’m doing these days and I talk about my fellowship and then answer their follow-up questions about how I got involved and what exactly human trafficking is and how prevalent it is and where it is and what’s being done about it and how I handle dealing with such emotionally heavy stuff all the time (this is all generally a very long conversation, and if I’m at any kind of event that involves a lot of people I don’t know or a lot of people that I know well but haven’t seen in a while, this very long conversation may happen several times an evening. It comes with the territory, I guess. I should start handing out tracts or something.). Anyway, at the end of a conversation like that, I get one of three responses. If the person is on one end of the spectrum, they are shocked that this could possibly be happening in the world and continually express that they had no idea. This is happening now a lot less than it did when I first joined the movement, but it still comes up a lot. In the middle of the spectrum, the person may or may not have heard about human trafficking before, but react with indifference or benign affirmations. For example, “Oh, well that’s cool”, or “How interesting”, or my personal favorite, “Well, good for you!” as though everything I’m doing is some sort of fascinating hobby I’ve picked up and not about real people suffering in the real world. The final group, however, knows very well what is happening in the world today and either is involved with it themselves or know people who are. This final group almost always asks me if I have read some particular book. When I say that I haven’t read it (and I never have), they tell me that I simply must and write down the title and the author on a napkin and press it eagerly into the palm of my hand. I appreciate that gesture. I really do. But I don’t ever read the book. Because, first of all, for a good chunk of my life I never read anything by anyone who was still alive. I’m an obscure classics kind of girl. But the main reason I never take the recommendation is that, I swear, it’s never the same book! I’ve had maybe thirty people tell me that the book written on their napkin was the definitive, tell-all, must-read book on human trafficking and that it would absolutely change my life. And while I’m sure that each and every one is powerful and incredibly significant, it’s very difficult for me to fit the reading of a couple dozen books into my already packed schedule. Luckily for me, however, Not For Sale requires that I do just that. Brilliant. It gives me hope that one day, at some mixer or barbecue, when some well-meaning stranger asks me if I’ve read Human Trafficking Book That Changed Their Life, I will be able to move past the napkin stage and actually say yes, and then we will have a real and interesting conversation about it. At least, that’s what I assume happens after I say yes. If I really do get to that point some day and all I get is an “Oh, cool, me too. So nice weather we’re having, isn’t it?” I am going to be very disappointed. At least I will have read a lot of good books, though.
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