by Amanda Kloer
Let’s face it- worldwide modern-day slavery is a huge and daunting issue. You know about it, you know that it affects what you eat, wear, drive, and listen to. And you know you want to do everything you can to help create a more just and free world. Well, bravo to you. However, it’s important to occasionally give yourself a break from morning till night abolition, if for no other reason than to keep your sanity. Here are five of my secret tricks I use to avoid abolitionist burn out:
1. Take a Break from Public Education: Some of my friends jokingly call me “didyouknow”, mostly because I begin a number of my sentences with the phrase “Did you know…” followed by some fact that usually makes them feel guilty about something they enjoy. Did you know asparagus from Peru is often picked by slaves? Did you know your iPod uses minerals from war zones in Africa? Did you know Russell Athletics abuses workers? It’s gotten to the point that someone I know is eating and I begin a sentence “Did you know…”, they usually cut me off with a “no, and I don’t want to!” The point is, constant vigilance in public education is exhausting. Give your self (and those around you) a break from time to time.
2. Have a Laugh: Human trafficking is a serious issue, but that doesn’t mean there is no room for tasteful humor. I’m no Jason Bateman, but I’ve been known to throw in a chuckle here and there on this blog. Granted, this doesn’t mean you have to write the best “So a priest, a rabbi, and a human trafficker walk into a bar…” joke, but a good sense of humor helps take the edge off what is normally a very serious issue. For inspiration, check out Wronging Rights.
3. Talk it Out: Self-care is incredibly important for people who work with these issues, and secondary trauma is very real. If you work closely with human trafficking on a daily basis, consider seeing a counselor or someone to help you work through so much contact with these heavy issues. If that’s not an option, find a close friend or family member you can confide in.
4. Balance Your Reading List: I try and alternate one serious, world issues book with one fun novel (nerdy science-fiction being my junk lit of choice). It’s a way to continue being educated and learning about the world around you without feeling so bogged down by heavy reading material. My suggestion: The Slave Next Door by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter followed by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith.
5. Enjoy the Fruits of Life: The most delicious, fat, in-season cherries were on sale at the grocery store yesterday, but their origin wasn’t labeled. I bought them anyway because they looked so good and brought them home, determined to Google “human trafficking and cherries” to at least see if there were any major reports. But instead I decided to stop on my way home, sit on a park bench, and eat them. And they were the best cherries I’ve had in a long time. The point is, it’s important to shop consciously and know where what you buy comes from. But it’s also important to sometimes just enjoy the fruits of life.