Starfish and the Tide


Starfish - The Vision27th March 2014

I'm crying on a transatlantic flight again.

I don't think the young man with the white corded headphones sitting next to me has noticed.

I'm alone for this journey, heading from London to Wichita to meet with some friends and advisers, to talk about the dream growing within me of helping end modern slavery.

This time I haven't been watching an animated movie. Tearjerkers.

And I don't feel physically, mentally or emotionally exhausted.

I've just been reading the true stories of Laura, Yuri & Mariamma and the violence and captivity they face in Kenya, Peru and India respectively, weeping for them and those who care about them.

I cry to varying degrees pretty much every day these days, flipping back and forth between




I wonder ...

What would it take to actually bring an end to these atrocities?

To bring freedom and safety to the 20 to 30 million slaves in the world today.

To bring an end to the pandemic affecting the lives of millions?

And it's not just stopping one perpetrator, it´s affecting

systemic and structural injustice.

It feels like too much.

And yet today,

Somewhere in the world, there is

A child who needs protection

A teenager who needs to be rescued

A young woman who needs support for restoration

A man forced to work in desperation

There are children, fathers, and mothers, sons and daughters

I can only think of the story of the boy walking along the beach with his father.

After a storm, the tide has gone out and has left hundreds and hundreds of starfish to bake in the scorching sun without protection, helpless to help themselves.

The son runs to and fro, picking up starfish one by one and flinging them back into the water ....

The father looks at his son and says, "My boy, look at all the starfish. So many. From here to the horizon. There are so many. There´s no way you can make any difference."

The child pauses for a moment, looks at the starfish in his hand, looks up at his Dad, looks back at the starfish, flings it into the safety of the sea

and innocently says,

"I made a difference to that one."

That is the picture I must keep before me as I am confronted by the sheer massiveness of modern slavery.

If I help protect, recover or restore just one human being, it is worth it.

And then I wonder ... what if we could change the story itself?

What if we could turn the tide?

What if the sea-level started to rise and began covering dozens, hundreds, thousands of starfish with the protection and nourishment they need, continuing to rise inch by inch, foot by foot, meter by meter, until every one of the millions of precious lives of enslaved today become the survivors.

Not helpless, but in need of help.

Could it be both/and?

What if we could Protect/Prevent, Rescue & Restore people by the ones and dozens,

and at the same time

Turn the tide for hundreds, thousands, and millions of people.

What would it take?

I think it would take you...

And me...

And another...

And another...

And another...

Doing what we can, with what we have, and who we are, where we spend our time.

The actions of everyday people banding together and doing what we can with what we have or can get our hands on, where we are or can get to, utilizing whatever resources, relational networks and influence we have on behalf of people being oppressed.

A little bit. Every day.

Maybe this isn't fair, but my gut says no one is neutral. I am either helping or hurting.



Today, as I sit and read and write somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, I am ...



Determined to help one starfish back in the ocean


To band together to turn the tide itself.



[Photo Credit: low tide in nungwi by Yoni Lerner]