Finding Empathy In Hard Situations...
The other day I wrote a post sharing my experience with Trevor Milton and Nikola motors.
After the post went out, a lot of people couldn’t understand how I could find empathy for Trevor or have anything positive to say.
I feel sad for these people. It’s so easy to paint with a broad brush and make someone out to be a villain and enemy.
Maybe I could only humanize my former close friend because I had so much time to process it.
Maybe it’s because I was there in his moments of weakness and could see the pain he was in.
None of his shitty behavior is justified, and none of it is ok, but I do think it is essential to see why maybe somebody would act in a certain way.
I learned this a few years ago...
I had a confusing experience that took me some time to process. It ended up being one of the most human moments of my entire life.
I was in Latin America undercover doing a sting operation.
It was my first one where I was both parts of the setup and the takedown.
We had spent two weeks becoming friends with these traffickers, earning their trust, which is necessary to get them to trust us and bring the girls they were trafficking to meet up with us.
We had beers, hung out on the beach, and had multiple dinners.
We laughed, told inappropriate jokes, and acted with them like any random guy at a bar I was trying to become friends with.
All the while doing everything I could to stay in character and not want to destroy them.
I quickly realized I wasn’t the best undercover because I could barely stay at the table when these guys started talking about all the things they could and had done with these young girls.
On the day of the sting operation, we decorated the house to look like a party.
We spread Red Bulls and beer around the house and put tortilla chips with salsa on the table... It felt like a real fiesta.
I was always nervous before a takedown because it was just a crazy, nerve-wracking experience.
The vehicles pulled up and in walked the girls one by one… Most of them were 14 or 15 years old, clearly terrified.
After all of them came in, the traffickers also began to walk in.
I was in the back of the room watching as each girl gave a cheek-to-cheek beso to all the guys and then I watched as the main trafficker we had been hanging out with walked in.
He was loud, he was fun, and he was full of energy.
He immediately started hugging each guy and laughing about something.
This was when I had this confusing moment...
As I sat in the back of the room, I had the weirdest feeling of love and empathy for this man. This terrible, horrible, awful man was trafficking young girls... I got a little choked up.
I knew that in 20 minutes, this guy, no older than 27-28 years old, would be locked up as a child sex trafficker.
I thought to myself, “why did you do this, kid? You could have chosen anything!” “Who hurt you? Who made you this way?”
The moment lasted about 45 seconds...
Just long enough for him to come over to me...
He immediately broke into talking about these young girls in a terrible, vulgar way. Obviously, this guy needed to be arrested and hopefully never let out to hurt anyone again.
The moment of empathy had passed. The takedown was perfect.
The leader is in prison, where he belongs. I am glad he’s there because he can’t hurt young kids anymore.
If we are being honest, there’s probably no rehabilitating someone like that. There’s one place for them.
And... I know I can feel love and compassion even for the worst of humanity.
I am so grateful I was able to have that moment.
It meant nothing about him but everything about me.
I am grateful That I don’t have to focus 100% on the evil around me, even when it is right in my face.
So maybe I am too easy to forgive Trevor.
But I don’t think so.
I’m grateful for the entire experience, the lessons learned, the good, the bad and the rest.
I’m glad he will have to pay for his mistakes, as that man in Mexico is also... And I am also glad I loved them, even at their worst.