Red Pill or Blue Pill? | by Mike Johnson | livingagoodstory.com
Do you really want to know?
One of the questions that I get a lot from friends and family is what we are doing living in a developing country. I usually say that we are working with underprivileged children and orphanages here in the country. Often times people want to know more and I give them a little more detail. Sometimes I don’t want to give people too much information because I almost don’t want them to have to take the red pill. Allow me to explain what I mean.
Quite a few years ago I read a book that my wife encouraged me to read called “The Road to Lost Innocence.” It was a book about a woman that had been sold into sex slavery, her experiences as a sex slave, and her escape and work helping others that are prey to the same vile industry.
Before reading that book, I didn’t really know about sex trafficking. I guess I was pretty innocent and ignorant about the horrible topic. Even after finishing the book I ignorantly thought that sex trafficking was something that happened in Cambodia and maybe a few other parts of Asia. Marisa and I set up some donations to the organization that the author runs and although what I read in the book stayed with me, I didn’t really think about the topic much.
A few years later we started to hear about a group called Operation Underground Railroad that rescues sex slaves. We started donating to the group and learning more about their mission. They were doing rescues all over the world. The reality of the horror of these children that do not have a voice or a way to be rescued became more of a reality. I still don’t think I understood how prevalent sex trafficking is.
We continued to donate to Operation Underground Railroad and then Marisa met the director for Operation Underground Railroad Aftercare in Ecuador while she was on a humanitarian trip. Marisa told her how much we love her organization and asked her what we could do to help. The director told us that we could go live in a developing country for a year and help her with Aftercare. While the offer initially shocked us, we felt really good about it and decided to accept the offer to volunteer.
We started to get some training on what we would be doing. We were also asked to read some books, one of which is “God in a Brothel.” My eyes were opened a little more to the world of sex trafficking but I was soon to find that reading about something, and seeing it, were two different things.We visited the country to visit where we were going to work and see some of the Aftercare facilities with O.U.R. We had the opportunity to meet many of the people that we will work with while we are here. We started to see the reality of a new world that we really didn’t know existed, even though we had read some books and watched some movies.
We flew in on a Thursday night and stayed at a hotel. Marisa and I went to a restaurant on the beach, probably oblivious to the sex trade that was going on around us. We hadn’t taken the red pill yet. The next morning, I took a walk to get some food at a little grocery store about 3 blocks from our hotel. A 12 year old boy walked up to me and asked me if I wanted my shoes shined. He asked me where I was going and I told him. He decided to be my guide even though I told him I didn’t need one, and he walked with me to the grocery store. He waited outside of the store while I bought my food. I bought him a candy bar and I gave it too him as I left. As he started to walk me back to my hotel he asked me if I needed a massage or a woman. He told me that he knew where I could find both. I couldn’t believe it. I had been in the country less than a day and I was already being propositioned by someone, a 12 year old boy, to help me find sex. I went back to the hotel and told Marisa about my experience.
That same day we started driving around with a local lawyer who works with a lot of impoverished children that are considered high risk to be trafficked. As we drove along the streets he would show us hourly hotels where sex deals were happening all of the time. We went to a tourist city and we were told about the tourists that come in on sex vacations. We were in a tourist town and we took the wrong turn and as we pulled over to the side of the road to turn around, a girl that looked to be 12 or 13 came out of the shadows toward our car, thinking that we were there to pay her to be with us.We visited after care homes and met girls that had been rescued. They looked like regular teenage girls but I knew that they had been through things that were more horrible than I could ever imagine. They smiled and talked and acted like teenagers, but they weren’t the teenagers that I knew. They had been victims of the depravity of men and women who only care about themselves and their own needs. They had seen evil and had to face it daily.
The things I had read about became more of a reality. I was seeing the underage sex industry with my own eyes and truthfully I was troubled. I know that sounds weird to say since I had volunteered to help fight it but I guess I didn’t expect to see so much of it, in so many places, in a country that I thought I knew.
I started to lament my own innocence internally. The pain I felt for the girls I had met and the thousands more that I didn’t know started to overwhelm me. I started to feel down and disheartened and I questioned how I could help against such a prevalent, pervasive, societal disease. A part of me wished that I could have never known about this so I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain that I felt for the victims, and anger and hatred that I felt towards the perpetrators. A part of me wished I could go back home and pretend that none of this was happening again.
I told one of the Aftercare directors at O.U.R. how I was feeling and he understood. He likened it to the movie the Matrix. In that movie humans have been put into a virtual reality life while robots use their bodies as batteries. There is a group of human that knows the truth and they live underground in a world of pain and suffering knowing the truth, while most people live in a comfortable virtual reality not seeing the truth about their situation.
The main character is given the choice to take the red pill, which takes him out of his ignorance and puts him in a fallen reality, or to take the blue pill, and keep on living in ignorance. The character takes the red pill and ends up in a cold and dreary world, but he knows the truth. Once he knew the truth he could never go back.
Our director went on to tell me that I had taken the red pill and I couldn’t go back.
So now people ask me what I do here in this developing country and I tell them that I work with orphans and kids that live on the street. They ask for more details and I give some. I want everyone to know about sex trafficking so those that are willing can help fight against this battle. However, I want people to have the choice. I don’t want to force the red pill on them because then they can’t go back. I want to give them a choice. I want them to know that there is risk and pain and sorrow in knowing the truth.
There is also empowerment, and joy that comes with the knowledge. There is satisfaction in helping those that can’t help themselves, in giving a voice to those that don’t have their own. There is power in doing what’s right despite the risks. There are children all over the world that need Operation Underground Railroad and the other organizations that fight human trafficking.
So now that I have explained more about it, it’s up to you. Do you want to take the blue pill and pretend it’s not happening. I understand if you do. Ignorance can be bliss at times.
Or do you want to take the red pill. Do you want to see the darkness so you can shine your own light on it? Do you want to feel the pain of lost innocence so you can attempt to apply the healing salve to the wounds of others? Do you want to trade in blissful ignorance for work, and heartache, and sorrow?
I remember what it’s like to not know the truth about this societal cancer and even though at times I wish I didn’t know, I wouldn’t recommend ignorance. Too much is at stake and you can help. Take the red pill, take the hand of so many others that fight for this cause and be voice for those that don’t have one. It’s worth losing some of your innocence to help those that have lost theirs.