You know those crime statistics; the ones that tell how many seconds lapse between murders, assaults, or thefts? Something our logic rarely factors into those statistics is that they are simply a breakdown of a numbers of crimes in a given period divided by the amount of time in that period. So, if 10,000 employees of some business are hacked in one day, that total number is added to some grand amount of annually-hacked individuals ultimately making you believe “One person is hacked every 13 seconds.”
But here’s a question that dismisses those calculations: to our general knowledge, what common tragedy occurs globally roughly 300 million times a day; give or take a few million? That’s a notable gap, no question, especially considering 300 million seconds is just shy of a decade.
On a frigid December morning, I scraped frost from my windows while the engine warmed. The radio was tuned to a sports station and a news break began from which a muffled voice announced Twitter’s end-of-year census: their 2014 word of the year was “selfie”. On the dark ride home that day, NPR – albeit, from a little more sophisticated source than Twitter–announced Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2014 was “culture.”
Entertaining the aha moment I was having, I began writing a piece in my head on the parallels between those two words and the statement they made regarding contemporary culture. But as I wrote in my mind then – and also later on a keyboard – I watched my words flow into a fruitless rant and found myself wondering what the actual message was: where were the right words hiding?
The following morning, I was listening to K-Love and (as was becoming an apparent trend across radio stations approaching year’s end) another annual enumeration was announced; this time for YouVersion, a popular Bible app, and the announcement pertained to a verse of the year, rather than a word. It was Romans 12:2 and the words I was looking for fell over me like a down comforter… “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (English Standard Version).
Selfies, culture, and Scripture aside, we are a declining society in terms of delayed gratification. For example, a study that began 4 decades ago attempted to measure early childhood delayed gratification performance with the body mass index (BMI) of the same children 30-40 years later. The study’s results revealed that delayed gratification experienced in early childhood reflected a BMI reduction in adulthood[i]. Coincidentally, childhood obesity has doubled and/or quadrupled in children and adolescents, respectively, over the last 30 years[ii]. So, while government officials and your tax dollars are hard at work to regulate children’s diets to fix the problem, empirical research simply recommends good parenting.
Another dose of delayed gratification comes from an experience that in many ways acts as my turning point. I listened to a story of a woman from a wholesome family in a small suburb tell about how a popular kid at school offered to drive her home one day, but instead brought her to a hotel room and raped her. Threatening her life and her family, the boy – who was working for his older cousins – blackmailed the girl and continued to bring her to hotel rooms 3-4 times a week occupied by a dozen or so men that paid to rape her.
Terrified for her life, for her family’s safety, and ashamed and humiliated, the girl spiraled into what our world considers a “troubled youth.” One night, she was left for dead and made her way to a nearby diner in soaking wet, bloody pajamas. A police officer brought her home at 4 in the morning and, as the girl suspected, her mother was more embarrassed by the police officer bringing her home at that hour than she was concerned with what her daughter had been through.
The officer, well aware of what happened to this girl, offered her his business card in hopes she would be willing to identify and testify against the men doing this. Later that day, the family dog disappeared. Later still, she received a call from the men selling her for sex, heard her dog bark once, and then a gunshot. This was my turning point; when easily the most foolish words I ever said escaped my lips…
“Who could do such a thing?”
We are a sensitive society when it comes to animals. We’ll chastise a country we assume eats cats or another that mass-murders dolphins for food; we’ll call for a hunter’s head for killing a lion; we’ll protest a football team for signing a player guilty of fighting, torturing, and executing dogs. And yet we eat seafood fished by human slaves and fund the slavery-industry to a point in which it more-than triples Apple’s quarterly income. Mind you, those numbers are based on profit and Apple pays its employees, whereas slaves earn nothing.
Simultaneously, Game of Thrones – which repeatedly treats women as conduits of male pleasure – once gave the same treatment to a female star that it had been giving to female extras all along and markedly “went too far” for viewers. That particular episode had 6.24 million viewers and the fallout was evident when the following episode lost a million viewers; however, the following three episodes of that season boasted 7.01, 7.14, and 8.11 million viewers, respectively. Long live the people’s resolve…
This was me not so long ago: delicate to animal cruelty, yet desensitized to the sexual exploitation (read: cruelty) of women. But by no means am I condoning animal cruelty now; I’ll be the first to admit I get upset when a dog is injured or killed – even if it’s in movies – and when I experienced the response that had been eluding me since saying those fateful words I’ve long-since wish retracted, I began digging into the world of sexual slavery and found myself wanting to understand everything I could about it.
We were having a movie night, Beethoven’s 2nd, and a scene began in which Ryce was walking Beethoven by a house of partying teenagers; one of which was a popular, good-looking fella. He called to Ryce from the balcony, so she tied Beethoven’s leash around a post below the balcony and went up to see him. Several of his friends tried pressuring her into drinking but the heroic boy stood up for her and won her trust, then took Ryce to “show her his room”. When things got shady and she tried to leave, Ryce realized she was locked in the room with a predator (whose friends, unbeknownst to her, had been pouring beer all over Beethoven). As the predator neared Ryce and Beethoven was being abused, my mind went to a dark place and I asked my fiancé to change the channel.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “It ends well.”
Sure enough, before the predator could pounce on poor Ryce, a fed up Beethoven yanked the pillar out from under the balcony, collapsing the entire thing and sending the drunken fiends, including Ryce’s would-be attacker, into the lake below. A suddenly cheery Ryce bid a sarcastic farewell to her former interest and walked off with her Beethoven. Safe and sound.
But the long and short of it is this: it doesn’t end well. It hasn’t been ending well for decades – centuries, even – and society has had its mind on more pressing issues than helpless people… We rise up against injustices of personal importance while tempering our impulses into miscellaneous comment-feeds in countless online articles. We feed our children technology while crucial teaching moments float by and we prefer peaceful evenings alone until the night they never come home.
Of the estimated 35.9 million slaves in the world today, about 80% are sold for sex. That’s more than 28.7 million. Of those about which we know, the fortunate ones were only raped a couple of times a day (although many laws have yet to catch up to calling it rape because they somehow still see sex slavery as consensual, regardless of the slave’s age to consent; an issue to be discussed in much more detail) but the more common amount of sex slave rape is ten or more times a day: that’s about 300 million rapes, globally. Every. Single. Day. If you would like that broken down into Crime Clock seconds, that’s 347 rapes per second.
Delayed gratification is one of the leading proponents of criminal psychopathology; namely, crimes of a sexual nature[iii] and especially in that regard since the widespread accessibility to pornography due to an equally large increase in the technology we hand to our children to perpetuate the cycle. The gratification isn’t just the immediate answer; that cruel people do cruel things to helpless creatures – human or otherwise – but the answer was also in that we overlook opportunities to cultivate genuine people through real relationships and instead allow the world to create cruel people through autonomy.
It took me 30 years to realize God existed; and when I did, much the same as when I realized slavery existed, I wanted to understand everything I could about Him. And what I learned was something I had wrong all 30 years I spent fighting Him off: Christ never commanded the world to go to church; He commanded the church to go to the world. I’m pretty sure it was Greg Laurie who coined that.
The deeper I dig into this world, the less it looks like a grave and more like a way through to the other side. Troubled youths are not what adults think they are, yet adults are far too often what troubled youths expect them to be. Opportunities to teach are all around and mean more than just clicking “share” or opening our wallets. It means opening our eyes, opening our minds, and opening our mouths.
The organizations that helped me better understand and get involved in confronting the slavery pandemic are available in the resource section of this site, along with plentiful literature to get you on your way. This isn’t about asking for your money, it’s about asking for your voice, and I’m not the one asking; there are 36 million pleading.
[i] Schlam, Tanya R., Nicole L. Wilson, Yuichi Shoda, Walter Mischel, and Ozlem Ayduk. “Preschoolers’ delay of gratification predicts their body mass 30 years later.” The Journal of pediatrics 162, no. 1 (2013): 90-93.
[ii] Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Adolescent and school health: Childhood obesity facts. (2015): http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm
[iii] Lussier, Patrick, Martin Bouchard, and Eric Beauregard. “Patterns of criminal achievement in sexual offending: Unravelling the “successful” sex offender.” Journal of Criminal Justice 39, no. 5 (2011): 433-444.