Julia Ormond – Supply Chain Slavery

I want to talk about why this is hidden in plain sight. I’ve gone around the world, and met perfect people, who have shared their stories. And it is really sad, and full of pain.

But this is not happening because some people on earth are evil and we need to fight them. This is happening because we are all human. And within us, we have both good and evil.

Trafficking and enslavement is a systemic response to something going wrong on our planet. And the byproduct is so evil, it feels so evil, that we’re looking for evil, in order to punish evil. Rather than looking for the positive.

We’re the first generation to leave the world a worse place for their children. We’re leaving the world to them to innovate out of our problems.

The problem is that we’re all in utter denial. We cannot see our own culture.

Imagine how stressful poverty is. It shifts us into fight or flight, and that’s what I think we’re seeing, massive flight of people. A massive migration.

I want you to really imagine that a doctor tells you that your child needs a heart transplant in the next week or their going to die. And then someone tells you that you can buy a child out of pverty for $300, it’s called trafficking in organs.

Are you sure that you would be strong, and do the right thing?

I went to go see child slavery, to look for examples. I’m told its hidden. But it’s as simple as getting on a plane and going to a village and talking to the elders and then going to the lake. And its right there.

And in my head, I keep thinking in my head, ‘don’t expect to see any chains’. As we know, it’s all psychological. And when I ge there, my response is still, ‘where are the chains?’ And I say to the NGO I’m with, what am I looking at? Because it doesn’t look that bad. And part of me expects them to be emaciated, but he looks healthy. And they say to me, he’s 12 years old, but he’s built like a man, That means he’s been doing 5 years of hard labor. That’s what they’re looking for, but it’s not what we expect to see.

Lake Volta is the second largest lake in the world. It was created to give people a place to fish, but they forgot to clear the trees. So the net gets caught, and they need someone to clear them. And thus, child slavery was born.

Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.

Our brain is fantastically selective. We don’t notice incremental change. We don’t experience truth. And this feeds into our culture.

If our brain is the result of our experiences, then that’s how we perceive the world. We come to everything with our perspective, but we don’t realize it’s just a perspective, we think that’s all it is.

We presume we’re sophisticated, but we’re only hearing fragments of the truth. When we presume to translate, we begin to miss more. I’ve heard that when Kruschev said ‘we will bury you’, it was mistranslated. What he meant was, ‘our political ideology will outlive you’. But the result was an escalation of existential fear and terror in the US.

As someone who is a vaguely guilty white, Western European Brit, the rationalization is this: it was necessary for us to be strong. And how did we do that? We oppressed your people, we took your resources. But in retrospect, we realize we might not have done it quite right. But now we disapprove of you doing the same. And because of our slight guilt, we can’t apologize. I once asked Mary Robinson, why don’t we apologize? Why is that not a diplomatic tool? And she responded, ‘well, you can’t apologize for what you’re still doing.’

Today we’re a society that wants to connect. And trade is the thing that binds us, more than anything. And so if one practice is wrong anywhere, then it is wrong in my country as well. Al Gore once told an African proverb: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ And as individual countries, we’ve chosen fast over far, and we’re crashing as a result.

Our mission is to spread good work through global supply chains. And at some point, we came across William Dunning. And he was a strategist in World War II. And when we were overwhelmed, his philosophy was: make weapons, make them better. And so what we do, is we look in the global supply chain, and we find the places to make it better.

All we need to do is show other people that we can change. If we can feel it, we can change it.

The Transparency in Supply Chains Law regulates companies that trade over $100 million registered in California. If you’re serious about eradicating slavery, then you need to be certain that all the way along your supply chain, you’re offering decent work. This allows companies to go from black market, to gray market, to just ‘to market’.