What are you willing to do to be the change we need in the world?

Putting words to action.

In the last year several organizations have spoken out against craigslist. Craigslist has become a major source of prostitution, especially in the solicitation of minors. Both domestically and abroad, craigslist is being used to purchase sex.

One organization asked its members to send letters to craigslist and to boycott the site until it changed its policies and took steps against those who would use it to exploit women and children.

Sending a letter is easy; following through with action is another matter.

What do people use craigslist for? Everything. You can do anything on the site – find a roommate, find things to furnish your new apartment with your new roommate, find a job to pay for the new apartment… It’s not until one attempts to stop using the site that one realizes how accessible and convenient it is.

But that’s where the challenge comes in.

In any campaign requiring action, the struggle is living it out. The follow through is what separates the enthusiast from those willing to be inconvenienced for something.

The facts are simple: craigslist is being used for trafficking purposes in the US and abroad. Minors are being sold on craigslist and currently there is very little policing of the site.

In order for a boycott to have any influence other aspects of the site need to be affected. It goes back to supply and demand – if people are either a) not finding what they’re looking for because people are not listing their rooms or items on the site or b) the sellers are not getting any offers for their listings because buyers don’t go to craigslist to find what they need – both sets of people will go elsewhere. Overtime, this will decrease the profits of craigslist and that, along with a committed and intentional letter campaign, could result in craigslist changing its policies to ensure women and children are not being sold through the site.

In a world of easy answers and one step solutions, long hauled and prolonged change doesn’t fit our mindset. It would be nice if we all could send one email and *poof* craigslist would change. But it takes more than that. And even sending 100 emails isn’t effective unless it is accompanied by boycotting the site and telling others about it.

This time, the boycott helped. The management of craigslist said they would do more to stop their site from being used as a platform for the commercial sex industry. While some could (and do) question what “more” entails, for now, at least, they have admitted there is something happening on their site. In the coming weeks organizations will monitor if the number of ads on craigslist goes down, or (one can hope) disappears.

I boycotted craigslist for five months. I boycotted for little girls in Southeast Asia and Independence, MO who are being trafficked and sold like used couches. I admit, it was hard. But when one wants to impart change there is one question that must be answered: How much are you willing to be inconvenienced to impact the life of someone else?

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