Celebrating every step

Written by: Ben Cooley, CEO of Hope for Justice

Written by: Ben Cooley, CEO of Hope for Justice

Celebrating every step towards a world free from slavery, and never losing hope

Those of us in the abolitionist movement know the scale of the problem can seem overwhelming. Here at Hope for Justice, talking about the issue of modern slavery every day, and the millions of people caught up in slavery and affected by this crime, it would be very easy to become paralysed by the statistics or to lose hope. 

That’s why we are determined to celebrate every win. That’s one of the things that’s kept us going. We celebrate every step on the journey towards a world free from slavery – every step, every person, every life we’ve been able to change. Celebration is at the core of who we are and what we do.

A joyful culture

We choose to have a culture of fun. I know that sounds slightly irreverent – having fun while there is such darkness and oppression in our world. But one thing I’ve found from leading Hope for Justice is that negativity can affect you to the point where your organisation’s culture becomes negative. And negative cultures are NOT the incubator for effective sustainable change. 

I’ve found that joy is intrinsically linked to strength. We need to be strong in the face of oppression. So we have built a culture where we laugh in the face of oppression and smile in the face of danger. Because what we won’t do is allow hatred and darkness and oppression to infect our culture – we will be the exact opposite of that. I love the words of Martin Luther King Jr: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Your responsibility

At Hope for Justice, I am surrounded by people equally committed to our vision and to our mission – to bring an end to modern slavery by rescuing victims, restoring lives, and reforming society. Their encouragement is important. Everyone is a by-product of their environment, so choose the best environment to be in that you can! We are all heavily influenced by it.

But you need to be strong in your own right – you can’t always just lean on others. Obviously you need to be with others and I’m not advocating for an independent spirt. But what I am advocating for is to strengthen yourself. You need to have your thinking right, your attitude right, your response right. You are responsible for your own attitudes. There’s a phrase in the Bible, on how the early church was started, that says “they devoted themselves” (Acts 2:42). That’s what we all need to do.

Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare

Living in a world free from slavery, that’s our vision and it’s our destination. So therefore, that’s how we’re gearing up, making our investments to turn that into reality. 

I have just written a book about the story behind Hope for Justice and this amazing movement we’re part of, and I decided to call it Impossible is a Dare. That’s because along the way, I’ve had many people come up to me to tell me that our vision is impossible. But as Muhammad Ali said:

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small-minded men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare.”

Seeing the impossible made possible means being relentless in pursuit of your vision. I hope you believe what we believe, and choose to stand with us in pursuit of a world free from slavery.

Ben’s book, Impossible is a Dare, is out now: www.impossibleisadare.com 

For Freedom