Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Parking lots this time of year can be, well, trying, at best. They're overcrowded, and filled with people wanting to shop for all their loved ones. Me? I park as far away as possible from the doors. There's usually fewer people vying for these less desirable spots. However, this is not a 'where-to-park' blog, so let me get to my topic. This time of the year can be one of the most dangerous for one particular group: Single moms. Why? In a phrase, "Human Trafficking." This is the time when those looking to 'score' a kid or young lady have the entire country going to the mall. Single moms, not always able to find babysitting by grandma or a friend, are walking through busy parking lots with one or more kids in tow. When they're leaving the mall, not only do they have their kids, but now their hands and strollers are packed full of gifts for whichever holiday they celebrate: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the list grows yearly it seems - I can't keep up. When the mothers are distracted, their precious cargo becomes the target of the most vile group of people that ever existed: Human Traffickers.
Human traffickers are the very lowest of the dregs of society. Truly, they are the ones preying on our weakest and most vulnerable. Most often these victims - those who have fallen prey to the traffickers - find themselves in some type of sexual exploitation. To find out more about human trafficking and what can be done, please check out ZOE International. They not only raise education about this horrible atrocity, but they work with those seeking to destroy human trafficking. There are many other groups for sure, but since I have personal relationships with many of the people working here, this one is especially precious to me.
If you've read my previous blog on sheepdogs, you'll know I take this role very seriously. There are many of us, highly schooled in the Art of War and the violence inherent in that Art, who have no problem standing at the ready to protect those whom we swore to protect many years ago. We don't feel we have ever been relieved of our oath to defend those that cannot defend, or choose not to defend, themselves. We pledged that we are prepared to give our lives in their defense. Please don't get me wrong, our law enforcement community is amazing. They come to our aid every day, many times with their own lives on the line. I wish there were more to fill in the gaps, but due to city and state budgets, and a new disdain by certain segments of our society for their very presence, their numbers and effectiveness have been injured. This is a topic for another day, though.
There is a new meme - more like a quote - circulating on Facebook. It's calling for men to watch over the holidays and be on the look-out for that mother walking alone through the parking lot with her children. I totally agree with this sentiment. However, the meme labels the movement with the title #operationoverwatch. Why do I say 'However?' Operation Overwatch is an amazing organization that trains service dogs for our returning vets. One of the most important purposes of their training is to detect when a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) episode is beginning to strike the veteran. The dog is trained to assist the veteran to calm down and 'regroup' (my term, not theirs). Read about them here. By using this hashtag, we run the risk of pulling attention away from their very important and needed cause.
But what do we call it; that was such a good hashtag title? I suggest #OperationChristmasOverwatch. It's not taken and it definitely represents what we want to get across: Human Traffickers, we are watching. We will see you. We will stop you. We will use all the experiences we have at the Art of War to ensure you are both unsuccessful at your goal, and physically unable to carry out your plans.