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Archive for November, 2007

Having lived with depression most of my life I think I’ve come to learn a thing or two about depression.  It amazes me how the realization takes place in the presence of others.  It was through conversing with people suffering severe depression that I’ve come to see a thing or two about one of the most significant experiences in my life.  I’ve been living a very disconnected life.  Perhaps feeling disconnected is a better representation.  When you are depressed you just feel wrong.  Your being is a collection of negativity and hence all experiences are experienced as negative, as not supposed to be, as insufficient even when it may not be at all.  It pushes you to the boundary, to live on the edge.  It is a constant reminder that you are not what you suppose to be.  You are just wrong.  This sense of oneself raises a very high level of consciousness.  And self-consciousness leads to a sense of disconnection.  Connection, to my understanding, is about spontaneity.  And spontaneity emerges from a sense of safety, a core feeling that one is ok.  Disconnection is when you are conscious of the fact that you are not where you ought to be.  As one proceeds in life being conscious of where one ought to be, things become artificial in an attempt to align oneself with the logic of life, with all the oughts.  The harder one tries, the more disconnected one feels because connection is based on the assumption that where one is is good enough.  There’s nothing to prove.  This is a good place to be.  The challenge of a depressed person such as myself is to learn to maintain the tension by becoming aware of the redemption for the person that I am while keeping in mind the  distinction from the chemically generated emotion that emerges continually.

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According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 600,000 to 800,000 are victims of global human trafficking.  And between 14,500 to 17, 500 are being trafficked into the United States yearly.  There are numerous horror stories we hear regarding human trafficking.  While most people believe in the evil of human trafficking, not all see the issue in a similar manner.  While most believe that trafficking is dehumanizing, some believe that this issue as seen through mass media has been over dramatized and misrepresent its reality.  During the past decade of reading and research on the issue of human trafficking in Thailand in particular I have come to realize that stories of human trafficking is a lot less dramatic.  But less drama does not mean less pain and less dehumanizing factors.  When I first went to Thailand after the peak period of prostitution (around mid 80s to mid 90s) I was hoping to find many horror stories about children in prostitution and children as victims of trafficking.  While there were such stories, they were not the majority.  Over the years I have been keeping up with recent development.  There were just sad non-dramatic stories of girls who loved their families, worked as prostitutes, supported their families and were diagnosed HIV positive.  In September of 2007 I met a friend who has been working in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.  Both him and his wife left the States to deal with the issue of human trafficking.  Seven years later they did not see as many victims as they wished and many of the prostitutes they wish to rescue from brothels remained prostitutes.  They both made one of the most profound statement.  Now we have decided to let the prostitutes that we are serving come up with their own agenda and we will try to help them they best we could.

One of the books that I find very informative is edited by Kamala Kempadoo.  The title of the book is Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work, and Human Rights.   Most of the contributors to this volume has been working in this field for over a decade.  Many were attached to the Global Alliance Against Trafficking of Women.  There are many interesting perspectives that I learned from this book.  Trafficking is not as dramatic.  The statistics is, often, not very accurate.  Rescuing prostitutes from brothels often ends up with other girls being lured into the same brothels.  Most victims of human trafficking are not prostitutes.  The are people who do domestic work, sweat shop, and other forms of labors.  Let me quote one line from the book stating one misconception. “Based on the assumption that most women in prostitution are coerced and trafficked, it is then assumed that they would be only too happy to be rescued and reintegrated with their families, or rehabilitated.”

What they proposed instead is to look at human rights as the basis of how we deal with these victims.  Most people who cross borders are those who struggle with poverty and the lack of economic structure in their locations.  Crossing the border is their way of surviving.  Preventing them from crossing will not end the issue of trafficking.  Making provision in terms of policy for protecting their rights when they work as domestic workers, in sweat shops, etc. are better options.  Hence they promote the concept of safe migration.  Some of these perspectives are valuable as we contemplate how we can deal more effectively with the issue of human trafficking.

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For some reasons I have been feeling as if I’ve used up all emotional resources. Exhausted and yet the continual sense of responsibility makes me inch forward very slowly. More work, my papers, my publication, more of lots of things. My mind and my body are begging for rest and some how I do not seem to be able to. But strangely enough some of the most comforting things that brought me a kind of relief is that little voice I keep hearing occasionally “You can trust God…it is going to be ok.” In the midst of stress, the word trust is almost magical. It is a short glimpse into the divine presence. Only if I could be taken into this divine perspective as I engage life, I wonder what that will look like for me?

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