The Underbelly

Let's talk about the underbelly for a spell.

The underbelly fascinates me. The underbelly of anything-- everything. We all have one, it’s straight up human nature.

Subcultures have them too. Underbellys are the places where people step into when the dark twisty takes over. Or when they want to take a walk through something that’s not necessarily socially acceptable, we step into these places that are hidden just beneath the shiny veneer of what is considered plausible or palatable.

Society has multiple underbellys. Our current political shit show is showing us all just how deep and damaged the underbelly really is. And when a demagogue taps into that hate-filled underbelly where anger and violence dwell-- he has the power to destroy.

Destroy social constructs. Destroy human decency. Destroy democracy-- if we ever really had it in the first place. Our underbellys are there for our understanding. We can learn so much from them if we open our eyes just a little and acknowledge that they exist.

But we have to first agree that the underbelly exists and expose it for examination. We then have to recognize our role in allowing the situations which feed the underbelly to exist in the first place. How long have we ignored the situations that caused the underbelly to swell and bloat?

Then we must reverse engineer the problem. Examine the structure as though it’s a virus and find the source. Begin to remove the source and slowly work your way out from there.

Let’s look at something like human trafficking. We all know that young girls are forced into slavery for the sex trade industry, but we often think this problem exists in countries without infrastructure or protections for its most vulnerable citizens.

But no, this problem is massive and it lives in our backyards. Every single one of us.

But what can we do? I don’t really know-- honestly. I’m new to this issue. But we can start by acknowledging the problem itself. Then we can begin to reverse engineer the sources of the problem. Targeting those who pay for the services of these young victims-- and those who sell these children like common, everyday objects to be used and discarded.

And gutting the market itself would be a lovely place to start. Then, we need to look at the core reasons why children end up as sex slaves in the first place. Poverty. Lack of education. Runaways. Kidnapping.

All problems with solutions--one family and one child at a time. But how often do we talk about these underbellys? Not very. In fact, almost never. We’ve become immune to the underbellys. We look away or we glaze over.

We’re uber desensitized. We’re tapped out. We’re at a loss for compassion-- we just don’t have enough to give. I get it. We live in a fucked up world and we’re constantly looking at mass scale violence and politicians who do nothing to stop it. Nothing.

Why? They’re bought and controlled by the very shadow forces that feed the underbelly. And even worse-- these forces use people’s emotional biases to manipulate the masses into supporting the demagogues and criminals.

It’s truly stunning when everyday people continually vote against their best interest because they blindly believe what the television or social media tells them. When people blindly walk through life gorging on the misinformation of the powerful-- we end up in a society held together by the underbelly.

And that, my friends, is a terrifying place to be.

I hold onto the hope there are those among us doing the hard work of exposing, acknowledging and removing these underbellys in our world. I know they exist-- I see them every day. They are the hackers, activists, social workers, documentarians, writers, healers and compassionate souls who open their eyes to the those trapped in the underbelly and say, “I’m here. I’ll help.”

And I’m proud to be one doing the work-- in whatever small or large ways that I am. I hope you’ll join us too.