Remaining Positive

“That’s nice,” he commented, “but there is a lot of pain and suffering in the world.” “Yes,” I replied, “but there is also a lot of progress being made. There is a lot of hope.” “Maybe…but I don’t think there is enough to take away all the pain and suffering.”

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being apart of Not For Sale’s Montara Circle. At the third Montara, we welcomed fifty of the most brilliant minds in business, academia, technology, and popular culture, stating, “this is where business, philanthropy, and social justice come together. By bridging and combining the diverse expertise of each attendee, Montera Circle serves as an integral solution-generating mechanism that leads to actionable steps to end modern-day slavery.”

“The focal point of discussion at the third Montara Circle was Free2Work. To confront the pervasiveness of forced and child labor in companies’ supply chains, Not For Sale created the Free2Work platform. After evaluating the policies, worker rights, transparency, and monitoring procedures of a brand, Free2Work delivers this data to consumers through a mobile phone application and its website. During the workshops at Montara Circle, Not For Sale staff facilitated dialogue and brainstorming sessions around developing the speed and scaling of data for Free2Work, increasing mobile application users, and “reinventing philanthropy” in way that these programs can scale and grow self-sustainably.

After spending two days working at the event, I couldn’t believe how positive everyone was. Here was a group of intelligent, hardworking, successful people who had gathered together to focus on what we could do to help fight slavery.

After the event, we were cleaning up and a man who was visiting the restaurant stopped to ask me what we had been doing. I explained to him that ‘Not For Sale’ had been holding an event here. He asked me a few questions about what type of work we did, and after explaining everything he replied, “That’s nice, but there is a lot of pain and suffering in the world.” “Yes,” I replied, “but there is also a lot of hope.” “Maybe, but I don’t think there is enough to take away all the pain and suffering.” This conversation went on for a few more minutes, with him telling me there is too much pain and suffering, and me replying that there is also a lot of hope. Finally I felt defeated and found something that needed to be cleaned up.

Later that night I couldn’t help but think about this man and the mindset he wasn’t willing to negotiate on. True, there is a lot of pain and suffering. I am reminded daily that there are more than 30 million people who are living in slavery. We hear awful stories about people who don’t make it, who we can’t help in time. But there is also hope- I have to focus on the hope. If not, I’m not getting out of bed tomorrow. If I don’t truly believe that we are making a difference, changing people’s lives, and bringing new futures to survivors of human trafficking, then what’s the point? Focusing on the positive is my only option today.

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of brave people who are overcoming it.” – Helen Keller

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