11.21.2013

I found the 'i' in team.

Everybody's heard that saying, right? “There is no 'i' in team”

Well, it's true. It's literally spelled t-e-a-m. ….Soooo... there's no 'i'. Obviously.

But the heart of that expression is that a team must work together and the success of the team isn't dependent on the work of any one individual. When a team wins or loses it counts for or against every team member, no matter how well they played. There's no “i” in team.

Nobody knows that better than I do. It just so happens, I am the worst soccer player ever to strap on cleats and shin guards (to pick daisies and make shadow puppets on a field in the middle of a game).

I played soccer from, like, Kindergarten through 6th grade, and I sucked that whole time. They usually put me in as a forward, where I could cause the least amount of damage, and in all those years playing offense I only scored one goal. One. Someone kicked the ball and it bounced off me and wobbled into the net. Total accident. But it counts. I'm counting it. I scored a goal, dammit.

Every year, that stupid pizza party would come around (the one where all the kids on every team get a trophy no matter how shitty they played) and the coach would say something nice about each kid. It was mortifying to have to stand on a chair next to the coach, who'd been carefully choreographing 14 other players around my disaster all season, while he searched his brain for a kind word to say about me. “Jamie... was... usually on time”, he'd say, “glad to have her on the team.” And then they'd push a trophy with a golden girl kicking a ball, ponytail flying, into my hand and everyone would clap and breath a sigh of relief. Thank God that's over. Somebody please tell her parents about chess club.

The truth is, nobody was glad to have me on their team. Not even me. I hated being the worst player out there. Fortunately, the nice thing about a team is it's pretty hard for one player to make it or break it. “I” could never have been solely responsible for the bad outcome of a game because there's no 'i' in team, right?

Unless, of course, that team is on the Internet. Get it? Internet starts with an “i”? Huh? Huh? Yeah?

...Ok, that was so dumb. I should have my blogging license revoked. Forgive me. And hear me out...

A few months ago, I became the team captain of sorts for a group of people who wanted to make a difference. Along with The Exodus Road, I issued an invitation for people to join a team, pool our resources, band together in an effort to fight sex-trafficking and slavery by focusing our light in one city in South East Asia. And people showed up! A team grew up out of nothing and when we realized what we could do when we all worked together, it was mind blowing. It's true, some people on our team pull more weight than others. Some have more to contribute. Some are doing the work on the ground. Some are praying. Some are sharing the story. And, yes, as corny as I made it sound, the Internet is the 'i' in our team; it's our meeting place, it's our sideline, our dugout, our locker room. It's our space to rally and encourage. It's a safe place to get pissed. It's our place to show gratitude to the guys in the field who are taking risks, doing the hard stuff. We have become a team in every sense of the word.

We are DELTA team: 200 vocal supporters and 3 faceless investigators ~ versus ~ the Violation of Human Rights.

Game on.

. ….. ….

This must be how spies feel
when they're just hanging out. 
So. A few weeks ago, in Canada, I crossed real-life paths with another member of DELTA team! I was so excited when she told me that she was a DELTA teamer, I almost hugged her (but I didn't because I'm bad at hugging, so I high-fived her – which, it turns out, I'm also not very good at). But what's funny is that by the looks we exchanged, you'd have thought we had some shared knowledge of the entrance to the Bat Cave, or something. We were practically giddy about our connection. I guess that's just how it feels to know that you're part of something amazing. It was fun to stand next to her knowing that we're on the same team, fighting for the same cause. It felt like.... I dunno... Church?


Look. I've got 7 trophies for chasing butterflies during soccer games that led me to believe I wasn't fit for team activities. I was happy to never join a team again. I didn't know, back when I was 8, that even a little bit of effort from every player makes a difference. Maybe I would have tried harder... or, y'know, at all.

I just can't help but wonder what we could do if we treated the people around us like teammates. What could a small group do if they rallied around one campaign? What could a group of co-workers do if they chose one cause to support? What could you do with your friends, your classmates, your family, if you pooled your resources together to support something deeply?

There's power in numbers. This is a fact. One person can't end slavery, but one body of people can.

As a result of DELTA team's effort and dedication, we've seen pedophiles arrested. We've seen young boys taken from the grip of sexual predators. We've seen traffickers on the run. We've seen slaves freed. We've seen young women rescued from bondage. We've seen governments engage in the fight.

I believe we may actually be making a difference. 

Granted, these issues are bigger than a blogpost. There are complex layers and endless nuance to slavery and trafficking that I haven't even begun to understand. I'm learning. And my team is learning with me. There's no pretending we've got it figured out. But our team keeps us engaged and passionate, our team keeps us pushing forward. We've got Spirit, yes we do…

I don't know how to wrap this up. Hate that. 

Ummm.

Bye? 

….        …..        …..

Are you a team player? Or a butterfly chaser?