Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Goody-Goody Do-Gooder

When I was little, other kids called me a goody-goody. And I was. Afraid of getting in trouble... I did my best to be good. Trouble was, teachers and parents may like good little girls, but other little girls don't!

I've come a long way since then and am no longer an incessant rule follower...but I still am a shameless do-gooder and constantly search for the balance between caring too much and letting that caring take over my life. But now, instead of worrying about whether people might not like me for being debbie do-good, I wonder what the hell is wrong with them if they aren't.

Seth Godin's recent blog post "Fear of Philanthropy" ponders one of the biggest obstacles for do-gooders and their causes: too many folks avert their eyes from people and problems that make them uncomfortable.

I first realized the depth of this problem as a board member of The Kempe Foundation for The Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. Despite the fact that the statistics about child abuse are stunning, getting people to listen, act, or give is a huge challenge. No one wants to hear that nearly a million children are victims of child abuse every year.

Sexual abuse is a taboo topic too. Yesterday I met with two women from Prax(us). Prax(us) is the only organization in Colorado serving individuals, particularly homeless youth, in domestic human trafficking situations. Eighteen months ago, I had no idea of the breadth of both international and domestic human trafficking. But in October 2008, my friend Molly and her neighbor, Kendis, organized a Human Trafficking Awareness Conference in Colorado and I learned that victims of sex trafficking are everywhere, even right here in my fair city. What I learned yesterday is that like in the case of domestic violence, the stigma and shame of their predicament make it both insidious and almost impossible to escape.

It's the people who can't meet their minimal survival needs of food and shelter that are most vulnerable to domestic human trafficking... immigrants, (especially undocumented), single women with children, and homeless youth.

Did you know that every single night there are more than a thousand youths 14-18 sleeping on the streets of metro Denver? How about in your city? To complicate matters, these youth are targeted by law enforcement for ticketing for petty violations that are a result of their homelessness, and those very tickets have the potential to disqualify them from ever getting housing! How senseless can our society get?

The more I learn about the plight of so many people, in so many places, the more determined I am that we must not avert our eyes but rather open them wide and use our vision to do good.

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