Inspiration Information — Benjamin Skinner

by aaron on August 15, 2010

A hero is no braver than the ordinary man, but he is braver 5 minutes longer.”   –Ralph Waldo Emmerson

skinner_rescue_01192

The first story comes to me via Superforester Kaylynn, a student at (the surprisingly fitting) Hope College.   Who wrote these inspiring words:

I’ve heard it said that bad things come in three’s, but lately it seems like they’ve been coming in fives and sixes.  In the midst of tragedy in Haiti, it never seems enough to send only my prayers and monetary donations, and yet I feel helpless to offer more.  While my whole heart aches for those suffering and I desire to offer whatever of myself I can, I find myself trapped at college amongst our own recent tragic loss of two students.  It’s at times like this, when I am reading the news updates online, tears welling in my eyes, that I am reminded not to give up hope, because it is out of tragedy that heroes are born.  Numerous stories of hope and heroism have caught my eye in the past week, but this one stood out…

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1953379_1953494_1954743,00.html

Heroes helping heroes.  Share the love and remind your readers not to give up hope.

With gratitude for all you do,

Kaylynn

I read the time article, which I strongly encourage you all to do, and was immediately struck by the courage of these men.  But what surprised me even more, was that I recognized the author (and hero) of the article, as one of the most inspirational men I have personally met to date.  A little backstory…

A year ago,  I was sitting in the lavish lobby of Ron Howard’s Beverly Hills production company (Imagine Entertainment), trying not to look every inch the naive, nervous screenwriter I so clearly was.  Across the plush leather couch from me, sat a handsome man in a suit– also waiting.  Perhaps because of where we were, or his calm exterior, or his palpable charisma and David Beckham good looks… I automatically assumed he was an actor.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Over the next 15 minutes, Benjamin Skinner, a professor at Harvard Keck and veteran journalist proceeded to elucidate me about his 4 years work uncovering the startling scope of modern slave trafficking.  Mr. Skinner has traveled all over the world, to the worst poverty-stricken nations, infiltrating and tracking the movement and growth of slavery in current global society.

A few shocking facts pulled from his groundbreaking book, “A Crime So Monstrous“:

1.  There are more slaves now than at any point in human history (including during the colonial Transatlantic Slave Trade).  Estimates reach as high as 27 million worldwide.

2. The value of slaves has decreased —  1850 in the American South, the cost equivalent of a slave equaled approximately $40,000. Today the average cost of a slave is around $90 or less.

3.  Slavery still exists in the US — According to the CIA, over 1 million people are enslaved as prostitutes, domestic servants and farm workers.

4.  Human trafficking generates $7 billion a year — according to UN estimates, it is perhaps “the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world”  A claim made  by former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright.

I sat in this Beverly Hills lobby, with its pristine japanese water-wall and frosted coffee tables, in a state of stunned silence — blown away by this man’s passion and sacrifice and commitment.  Here I was, what I considered a rather informed citizen of the world, and I had never heard this basic facts.  I had no idea the scale of modern slavery.  The massive affect it has on such a huge swath of humanity.

I felt humbled.  In a profound way, SHAMED, by my ignorance.  But more, I felt inspired by Ben Skinner, by his personal mission to spread the word and make a difference.  By his unshakeable attitude of hope.

For whatever reason, for that brief window of time, we both shared the synergistic space of that lobby.   And more than the events that lead up to that moment, or my “important meeting” which followed, those 15 minutes with Ben left a deep and paradigm shifting impression on me.  I got the sense that he has that same positive ripple-effect on a lot of people he touches.

And now, less than a year later, in the wake of this devastating crisis, Benjamin Skinner appears on the radar again.  Saving the life of a man who had saved his in the past.  Offering more hope and inspiration in a place so desperate for it.

And I can’t help put smile at the strange intricacy of life.  How kindness radiates out like so many tiny waves, until we as humans find ourselves moving in concentric circles.  Spreading out in ever expanding ripples of positivity and compassion.  Connected somehow, orbiting each other, threaded together by an unbreakable humanity.

Ben’s heroism reminds me that human life is infinitely valuable.  That there is no sliding scale.  That the only real thing that separates us as individuals is the length we will each go to extend a hand and help someone in need.  You don’t need to be a doctor.  You need not be rich.  All you really need is outstretched fingers and an open heart.

One comment

[…] of emergency relief workers diving headfirst to lend support in Haiti.  People like Todd Shea, Ben Skinner and Tad Agoglia.  Not to mention the United Nations raising a record $10 billion in reconstruction […]

by Inspiration Information — Year in Review |Twin Ink on January 3, 2011 at 2:28 am. Reply #

Leave your comment

Required.

Required. Not published.

If you have one.