A few weeks ago I was traveling to meet a friend in Dallas. The flight I would be on was going to be stopping through there on the way to its final destination in Las Vegas. As the flight crew was standing around waiting for approval to board, they were all making jokes about Vegas and all the things you can do there. I’m sure it was all lighthearted fun, but thinking of that area puts a pit in my stomach because I understand the grip darkness has there.
As I sat there, I felt this urge to go speak with some of the staff and just pick their brains on what they know (or don’t know) about human trafficking. With the line of work they are in, I know that they have an awesome opportunity to spot trafficking and do something about it.
I sat in my uncomfortable airport seat contemplating internally whether I should actually speak to them. They aren’t going to know anything. They’re going to think I’m crazy! This is going to catch them completely off guard and ruin their afternoon. But I couldn’t shake the urge to speak with them.
In a sudden burst of boldness, I walked up to the service counter. The man and woman sitting behind the counter greeted me warmly, completely unaware of the difficult questions I was about to ask them.
“Hi, there! I have kind of a random question and it may catch you off guard, so if you don’t have an answer, that’s okay. I was wondering if you could tell me what your airline does to combat human trafficking.”
They took a second, one of them blinking hard at the forwardness of the question. They stumbled around, obviously trying to think through their training and come up with a sufficient answer, and finally settled on letting me know that there was a little paragraph in their training when they came on staff. They had to answer a few questions about it on a curriculum quiz, but that was really the extent of it. They told me in all their years of working for this airline (one of them for 12 years, the other for 15) that they hadn’t seen any come through.
I explained to them who I was and why I was asking these questions, and as my flight was called to board I proceeded to tell them that if they hadn’t seen it in that long then they weren’t looking hard enough. I gave them a card for my blog, wishing I had more time to talk with them right then and invited them to contact me if they wanted more information.
Honestly, there’s nothing super special about this story. I don’t know for sure if I reached either of the people I spoke with that day or if our conversation encouraged them to learn more about the issue they have an opportunity to stop. But I know that a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have had that conversation. What’s funny about all of this is that I may be the one most changed by this situation. I may never know the impact I had on those airline workers. What I do know is that unless we have the boldness to have conversations about the hard things like trafficking, especially in strategic places, we will not see progress for awareness and intervention.
After years of being sick and feeling small because of what I had gone through, I went through a season of believing that my voice didn’t matter. It was actually through the anti-trafficking ministry that I actually found that voice again and have gotten to boldly use it to fight for those who are forced into silence.
You have that opportunity. No matter what circumstances you are facing, if you are reading this you are privileged with freedom and a voice that you can use to fight for others who don’t have that. And your voice matters. So, use it.
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