The Trafficked


July 30, 2021– Ella Mae Begay has been missing nearly two months, with both law enforcement and family/community members looking for her, high and low, since her disappearance. She is a rug weaver, an artist whose traditional Navajo rugs have won her a lot of admiration. It is important to keep referring to her, in the present tense. An abducted or trafficked person should never be cast aside to the public’s opaque memory, as we learned when Elizabeth Smart was rescued, in March, 2003, nine months after her abduction. White women and girls, no less precious than anyone, nevertheless make up a far smaller percentage of the missing and exploited than do people of colour, especially Indigenous Americans.

The number of missing Native Americans is estimated at over 10,000-with 7,700 youth reported missing, as of 2018. Any such estimate is bound to be far lower than the actual number, with such factors as suspicion of outsiders among the families of the missing and family involvement in the disappearance, contributing to non-reporting. It is not just women who disappear, either. A young man, who I knew as a neighbour and student, in the 1990s, has been missing for over a year. His family continues to search and hold out hope-as they should. In the meantime, these families-especially the missing person’s children and spouses, live as if in a hollow shell.

Today is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, sponsored by the United Nations, whose own record in the matter has been spotty, in the past. That there is recognition of this issue, on a macrolevel, though, is huge progress. While the primary impetus for continued trafficking is easy money, the base for its widespread nature has been the sense that no one will really miss the abducted ones.

Everyone of conscience should miss them-and not give up searching, hounding the traffickers and demanding official action against “the Heads of the Snakes”, and finding as many of the victims as is humanly possible. A large organization, dedicated to this very achievement, is Shared Hope International. I urge those who are sincerely concerned about this issue to support Shared Hope, and any local organization which takes children off the street or otherwise points them towards a life away from exploitation.

What Now?


November 7, 2020-

The increased likelihood of a Democratic President, come January 20, happened on the day which, for Buddhists, commemorates Siddhartha Gautama’s return to Earth, after three months of teaching in the celestial realm. This, to the Buddhist faithful, is a day of great change and seeping portent.

To the rest of us, it has also been a day of great change and portent, whether one approves of the changes that will be taking place, or not. As with four years ago, I say “Give the next president a chance, and be ready to hold him to account, if large segments of the populace are ignored or left in limbo.”

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Capitalize on the reported friendship you have with Mitch McConnell. Maintain the law enforcement activity that is so close to former Judge McConnell’s heart: Fighting the trafficking of women and children. He was one of the forces behind the foundation of the very effective organization, Shared Hope International, one of the better programs advanced by conservative Republicans over the past several decades.
  2. Also, neither one of you wants to be seen as a deficit dove, so, given your self-comparison to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, dive into the summoning all Americans to help rebuild our infrastructure- get more done, with less Federal expenditure. Help counteract the sentiment that we ought stop asking what we can do for our country. Encourage market-led innovation and climate-enhancing changes. Continue to build on your predecessor’s one HUGE contribution: Looking after our military and veterans.
  3. Get out of Dodge- Washington or Wilmington more, at least for the first year or two. I recommend, starting in February-pick a city in each of the four regions: Northeast, South, Midwest and West, and hold a Town Hall in each one. Do this, monthly, until you have held such a gathering in each of the 50 states.
  4. Like your predecessors, be the Comforter-in-Chief. Aside from the Town Halls, be present for those communities which suffer natural or human-caused disasters.
  5. Be inclusive- Let’s return to the days when the President acknowledged not only Christian Holy Days, but those of other Faiths, as well. This was something at which Barack Obama excelled, but in which Donald Trump was less than interested. Be a cheerleader for the major sporting events, and yes, that includes NASCAR.
  6. Show that you trust Science- especially in facing down COVID-19. Be bold enough to also face down those who don’t see the COVID threat as real. The sooner more of us follow disease-fighting protocols willingly, the sooner the disease will no longer hold us in its vise-like grip.
  7. Finally, let the world know you see all of its parts as worthy of respect. Return us to partnerships which both help American prosperity and advance global co-operation. Attend crucial international gatherings, and encourage a two-way travel street- visiting some other countries each year and hosting their leaders here. There is plenty of anticipation, as there always is, when leadership looks set to change. Use the wealth of talent at your disposal, to build a dynamic, forward-looking, yet grounded, team. Godspeed, Mr.President-elect.