While unable to find a paid position in development work, I spent just over a year employed as a flight attendant. Training to be an F.A. consists of four intense weeks of safety instruction, followed by a solitary week focused on customer service (which most passengers would consider the core of the job).
Suhyeon Choi via Unsplash
During the weeks of safety, one of our instructors inquired of the class what we believed was the greatest danger to safe flying.
His answer? Apathy.
Prior to a plane’s departure, flight and ground crew go through a series of checks to ensure everything is functioning as it should, and that all the necessary emergency equipment is in place. During take-off and landing – critical stages of flight – cabin crew are to be mentally running through the actions and commands in which they will engage should something go wrong.
These checks are done on the same plane multiple times in a single day by different crews, and when you are flying as much as we were, it is easy to start believing that someone else has already done your job. But if everyone falls into that pattern of thought, no one is ensuring the safety of those on board.
Andrew Branch via Unsplash
The same can be said for issues of injustice. Early in my employment with IJM Canada, I was sitting with a family friend and describing our work. Her reaction – while sadly shaking her head – was that, "This is such an evil world. These things happen everywhere.”
It was a dismissive comment, one that comes from being overwhelmed to the point of apathy. Far from being interested in the impact of IJM, she was approaching issues of injustice as too big to be solved. If change was going to occur, someone else would need to do it.
Corruption and injustice are pervasive, that cannot be denied. But we make choices as to what is permissible. We need to apply these checks and balances day after day without fail to ensure humanity continues to head in the right direction.
Often it’s exhausting, emotionally draining work. When you read yet another story of a child who was imprisoned and abused, or that of a family driven out of their homes by those who have more power, there’s a temptation to turn away.
We are tempted to concede defeat, to normalize the behaviour, and to spend our time looking at adorable animals on the internet. But as Gary Haugen says, "Victims of injustice in the world do not need your spasm of passion but your legs and lungs of endurance.”
We’re in this for the long haul. And we need you to never give up hope. To never stop fighting for the rights and the future that you believe in.
Do you remember the first time you heard about sex trafficking, or slavery, or the violence of corrupt people who believed they would never be caught? Do you remember how that sense of injustice motivated you to pursue the highest ideals?
Don’t forget what that feels like, and don’t let anyone persuade you that there is no end to the oppression.
At IJM, we believe that we could see the end of slavery within our lifetime. So while we strongly believe in self-care when you’re burning out – and there’s nothing wrong with spending your time reviewing adorable animals –injustice can be addressed.
And we all have a role to play in ensuring we get off the ground.