Marches Marching Past the Point

Another weekend of marches has passed us by, and another weekend of marches marched right past the most significant challenges we as humanity face – the millions of youth and young adults who are homeless, missing and exploited, and the millions of victims of domestic violence. Every single day and night around the world, those of us who work in the field of street outreach crisis counseling, emergency youth shelters, domestic violence shelters, and violence intervention, see that every emergency youth shelter and domestic violence shelter is almost always full.

My colleagues and I are willing to walk through the broken glass. We’re willing to carry the tears and blood on our shoulders. We’re willing to have the echoes of the screams of children replay in our minds when we least expect it during moments that we have to pray through, write through, and reach out to each other to get through. We’re willing to attempt to get the youth or young adults to give us the gun, knife or box cutter, and most of the time they do, and then we transport them to safety. We’re willing to be run off the road by pimps, have guns pointed at us or put to our heads, and be shot at. We’re willing to maneuver through gunfire to get a child to safety. We’re willing to intervene and interrupt violence by breaking up fights while large groups of people just watch, instigating or use their phones to record. We’re willing to stop a young person from throwing themselves into traffic and in the process almost be killed. We’re willing to walk into an abandoned building where the smoke from crack cocaine is so dense, that our tongue immediately goes numb and we want to vomit, yet somehow we push through because we’re focused on the young person we are there to serve, so we get that young person to go outside with us, break their glass pipe and allow us to transport them to a drug rehab. We’re willing to meet a mother and her children in the middle of the night and drive them to a domestic violence shelter because that’s the only time the mother can do it without being beaten or killed by the abuser she lives with. We’re willing to go to the hospital in the middle of the night to meet and connect with the young person who was a victim of gang violence to reduce the possibilities of retaliation, thus preventing more deaths and more parents having to bury a child. We’re willing, able and have done these things and so much more, and will continue as long as God allows us to do so, because it’s not work, it’s a calling.

My colleagues and I understand that not everyone is called to do what we do. However, not everyone is called to live in the Arctic and facilitate research on climate change, but articles, quotes and memes about climate change get millions of posts, shares and views on social media and all media. Look at that in proportion to the amount of posts, shares and views regarding homeless, missing and exploited youth and young adults and victims of domestic violence. The birth of a giraffe gets more attention than the homeless, missing and exploited youth and young adults and victims of domestic violence. Why? Possibly because the numbers are so staggering and so overwhelming that instead of people volunteering or becoming employed with the local emergency youth shelter, domestic violence shelter, violence intervention teams, street outreach teams or search and rescue teams, it’s easier to march for a couple of hours and make sure the plastic and biodegradables are separated.

Yes, simply put, it’s easier to not be in the trenches. The work is heartbreaking, trauma-filled and exhausting. Yet, the work is also filled with the most amazing moments of miracles that you could ever possibly experience. And please tell me what challenges we as humanity face that are more important than finding, rescuing and bringing the millions of homeless, missing and exploited youth and young adults, and victims of domestic violence to safety?

If any march marches past the homeless youth, it marched past the point. If any march marches past the emergency youth shelters and domestic violence shelters struggling to keep their doors open, it marched past the point. If any march marches past the hotels, houses, apartments and streets where predators are buying and selling children, it marched past the point. If any march marches past the marginalized, hungry and hurting, it marched past the point. If anyone can find a way to make time to organize, travel, attend, speak at, talk about, or write about a march, but cannot find the time to share a post about a missing child, they’ve marched way past the point.

For me it’s sad that we live in a world where quotes from politicians and celebrities capture the attention of millions and billions of people, but the 1.3 -1.7 million homeless youth in the United States, the millions of homeless youth worldwide, the 600,000 – 800,000 women, children and men bought and sold across international borders every year and exploited for forced labor and commercial sex, the two million children who are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade, the 20.9 million victims of sex trafficking worldwide, and the 10 – 20 million victims of domestic violence are marched past on the streets and on social media.

Please, if you’re unwilling or unable to do anything else, just share one post a day on your social media accounts about a missing child and/or information about where victims of exploitation or abuse can call or text to get help. It can save a life. 

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The Perfect Key is You

We’re created 
in perfect key – 
the frequency 
of Love 

Listening to fear
will make you tone deaf 
to God, Love and yourself 

Everything strikes 
a cord
It just depends 
in what key
someone is playing
and in what key
someone is listening 

Like tuning forks
in the road
calling us 
more deeply
into what we are 
or what we’re not –
Love or fear

The perfect key is Love
The perfect key is You 

 

 

The Most Important Lesson About Leadership I’ve Experienced

There he was, a twenty-three year old young man at a very important, four day gathering. The elder of the gathering, a ninety-one year old man called the young man over and let him know that he was going to be placed in a leadership position for the four day gathering. The young man insisted that this not happen because he knew he wasn’t experienced enough, and that there were many, many people at the gathering who were twenty, thirty, forty and fifty years older than he, some of whom were combat veterans, and all with impressive backgrounds in various types of leadership. But the elder refused to change his mind and the twenty-three year old young man conceded to the elder’s wishes out of his deep respect for the elder.

The day before the gathering began, the elder made the announcement to the group that the twenty-three year old young man will be in a leadership role for the next four days. The young man glance over the crowd and could see the expressions on the faces of the many highly experienced people. It was obvious that many of the people were not happy with the elder’s decision, but didn’t protest the decision while they were in the presence of the elder, yet the group had much to say about the decision among themselves when they were not in the elder’s presence.

The twenty-three year old young man knew many of the people at the gathering. The previous year at the gathering he was embraced by all with love and compassion, but as soon as the elder announced his decision to make the young man a leader, he found himself the target of hurtful comments and backhanded criticisms that were never said directly to him, but near him, which made him feel isolated, hurt, and confused. Although the young man felt extremely uncomfortable, he asked God for help and guidance so that the four days be a beautiful blessing to all the people, and that everyone receive the miracles they need.

Over the next four days the young man found himself being supported by four older men, men who didn’t mock him for the things he didn’t know or understand, they corrected him, encouraged him, and guided him. With the support of the four older men, the young man began to ignore the negativity and completely focused on the Creator – on love. With the loving guidance and support from the four older men, the young man prayed and supported all those who were trying to hurt and discourage him, because he learned that they must be suffering more than the others. The four older men’s loving and supportive guidance helped the young man to understand that when we are in positions in life that seem unfair, difficult, and even painful, we must focus on the Creator of our understanding, pray through it, stay in love, keep calm, trust the process, focus on meeting the needs of others, rid ourselves of ego and foolish pride, stay teachable, stay humble, complete the task entrusted to us to the best of our ability, never quit, and keep making better and better mistakes with perfection never being the goal, but connection being the constant –  our connection to God, our own hearts, and each other.

At the conclusion of the four day gathering, the elder stood in front of all the people and had the young man stand alongside of him. The elder looked at the young man, and in front of everyone, the elder shared, “There is a reason that most leaders have gray hair. Experience matters and it’s something you can share, but you can’t teach it. It has to be lived. It has to be experienced. You’re not ready for this type of leadership position yet, but with much more experience, someday you will be.”

When the elder said those words the young man shuttered inside himself, feeling he had failed God, the people, the elder who trusted him, his family, and himself. He looked upon the people and saw that some in the crowd took great pleasure in the words the elder had spoken, and perhaps even more pleasure in the obvious pain of perceived failure that the young man was feeling. But the elder continued speaking as he looked upon the people and divulged, “I didn’t place this young man in a leadership position to see if he’s ready, I placed him in a leadership position to see who among you are ready. It’s true that most of you have many more years of experience than this young man, both in life and in leadership, but what good is the amount of years you’ve lived or the number of experiences you’ve had if all your years and experiences haven’t developed a profound depth of humility, compassion, and service?”

The elder called upon the four men who supported and guided the young man for the four days to the front, and had them stand with him and the young man. The elder motioned to the four men and said to the group, “These four men are leaders. They’re leaders because they understand how to serve – to be servants to others. They didn’t just comfort, encourage, guide and support this young man, they taught him to comfort, encourage, support, and pray for each of you, no matter how you treated him, and he did. And when we all do what these four men did for this young man, for each other and everyone we meet, the only necessary leader will be the vision of healing given by the Creator God as we support and encourage everyone to contribute their beautiful and necessary piece to achieve it.”

This happened a little over twenty-three years ago. I was that young twenty-three year old man. As uncomfortable as that experience was, to this day that experience remains as the most significant lesson about leadership I have ever experienced.

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