Podcast

Episode 102 – Shannon Sedgewick Davis, What it Means to be Tough

Today we get to spend time with the brilliant and brave, Shannon Sedgewick Davis. Shannon’s journey is one that found her committed to ending mass genocide around the globe, fighting for justice, and searching for Joseph Kony. As Jessica and Shannon walk though her journey, we’ll experience not only her incredible actions, but what it means to be resilient and tough – even when it’s hard.

Shannon Sedgewick

TRANSCRIPT

Jessica: Hey there! You are listening to the Going Scared podcast, and this is your host Jessica Honegger, founder of the social impact fashion brand Noonday Collection. Well, today is our last episode in this series on resilience, and I just wanted to thank you so much for tuning in and for being a listener during this time. These conversations have, for sure, brought me courage on a weekly basis and that is what my hope is, that they have also done for you. My goal for all of the conversations on the Going Scared podcast is to inspire you towards action, whether it’s to take up a new practice that will help ground you right now or whether it’s to give you an “aha!” moment where you see yourself in your story as someone with agency and with choice.

We get to choose how we remember our stories and how we remember our stories shapes our future and how we live out our purpose in the world. And if you haven’t gotten to listen to all of the episodes in this series, I would encourage you to do so because each one of them truly will inspire you towards hope and towards courage. When we fall, we have a choice: Do we stay down, or do we stand back up? And when we do stand back up, do we do it with courage and hope and love or cynicism and hopelessness? Resilience is the process of standing back up again after the fall with courage and with hope. Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. A certain toughness.

Well, wrapping up our series today is definitely someone I would consider as tough. Shannon Sedgwick Davis invites us into her story today on how she collaborated and formed unlikely alliances with the aim to stop atrocities of warlord Joseph Kony. For 25 years, Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army had killed over a hundred thousand people and abducted tens of thousands of children, forcing them to become a child soldier in Northern Uganda. After Sedgwick Davis met with survivors and community leaders, aid workers and lawmakers, it was clear that the current international systems were failing to protect the most vulnerable. Today, Shannon tells us the story of the unprecedented collaboration she helped build with the aim of finally ending Joseph Kony’s war and unforgettable journey on an unexpected path to peace.

Many of you might have heard of the Lord’s Resistance Army from the documentary that went viral in the early 2000s called “Invisible Children.” I think what strikes me Shannon is many of us can be moved and maybe for a time give ourselves to a certain social issue – Shannon is unstoppable, and her singular vision to not give up and really to do what no one had done before, that no roadmap had built before, is absolutely going to inspire you today.

She is the CEO of the Bridgeway Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to stopping mass atrocities, and an award-winning advocate for social justice and international human rights. Previously, she was the vice president of Geneva Global and the director of public affairs at the International Justice Mission. She is now an advisory council member of The Elders, the group of global statesmen founded by Nelson Mandela, and a board member of several organizations including Community United and Charity Water. she lives with her family just down the road from where I grew up in San Antonio, Texas

 

Shannon Sedgwick Davis: What it Means to be Tough

Jessica: Tell me about your sort of moment or your path of awakening that you could be the solution to the injustices that you see.

Shannon: I think for almost everyone, you’ve got… We’re all sort of created, I think, to do certain things with our lives and we have bent towards things. And then I also think there’s quite a few things that as a shared humanity, we should all be very passionate about. And for me, it definitely was justice. You know, that just continued to be a theme that would come up in my day to day. You know, my mom jokes that I took in stray animals when I was really young, and then I started to bring home stray kids from high school who had gotten kicked out of their house.

Jessica: They require a little bit more than food and water.

Shannon: Exactly. No, but you know, this idea of justice, and much more in a positive light instead of a negative light. Not as much of an injustice, but this idea that we’re all shared humanity, and there’s something very just about that if that works right, and too often it doesn’t. And starting to just see those divides was pretty radical for me. I knew I wanted to go to law school but probably only because people just consistently were echoing that to me. Because I would try to always fight for the underdog or, you know, whatever sort of scenario at school would be the latest issue, I would become sort of a fighter for it. And so, you know, law school was somewhat of just I think a response to having heard that over and over.

“Not as much of an injustice, but this idea that we’re all shared humanity, and there’s something very just about that if that works right, and too often it doesn’t.” Shannon Sedgwick Davis

But then, I didn’t know for sure where that path of pursuing justice was going to take me. In fact, I would have guessed that it probably would have been domestic work and work that was more locally based. I did some internships around some housing injustices in Inner City Dallas and some other places. And then during law school, there was that earthquake, that awful earthquake that hit in Turkey and Adapazarı and Gölcük. And then I traveled spring break with the church community I was going and attending there in Waco, I was at Baylor Law School, and traveled with them to Turkey to do some relief work.

And what was interesting is that it wasn’t the relief work at all that sort of resonated deeply within my heart. It was super important, and I cared a lot about it, but actually every day I would have to take the ferry across the continents. You know, the Istanbul is on two continents. And as I did, there was a street child that I developed a relationship with there who was treated awfully. And that just is sort of that. I think that was a pivotal moment. And that, not only did I really care and know that my heart beat fast for issues of justice, but that I actually was quite interested and intrigued about justice issues on the globe rather than just at home.

Jessica: Do you think if you had known of other paths, even like later in high school or early college, that you would have gone on to law school?

Shannon: You know, I look back and I say… I still say yes, and I get asked this a lot too. This current generation that’s in college is so remarkable. Oh my gosh, they all actually really seem to care about issues like this. And, you know, back when I was applying to International Justice Mission, it was my first foray into this work. And back when I was applying to IJM, you know, I wasn’t competing against, you know, tens of thousands of other people for the same positions. And nowadays, what you’ll find is that this work is really lighting up this current generation.

And so, it’s highly competitive, which is just crazy to say. Because they’re signing up to go spend their lives on something else. They’re not real interested in making a ton of money. They obviously want to make enough money to live. But it’s pretty unique. And I do think that my law degree was a real differentiator. And so I don’t know that it had to be a law degree but I do think doing some sort of additional degree really did help differentiate me both in the sort of global landscape when I would be meeting with key leaders or heads of state in certain regions.

But also, I think it was a differentiator in terms of just being able to be present in some of these conversations. My law degree in particular. So, I hopped off to law school and I thought, "Oh, you know, everyone’s been telling me all along that I’m going to be this awesome lawyer because I’m such a great fighter or whatever for a cause." And I remember doing so awful in one of these classes and it was the class like this courtroom class. So, I was having to perform in a courtroom-like setting, which I actually left that class thinking, "Oh gosh, I just crushed that. I did a great job."

And my law professor was… I ended up getting a pretty bad grade. And so, I went and talked to him and I was like, "Ah, you know, I can’t understand this. I felt like I did a really good job." And he said, "You know what? You aren’t listening." He said, "You’re actually thinking about what your next argument’s going to be and you’re speaking very eloquently and you’re well-spoken. But you’re missing the win because you’re not actually hearing what the other side is saying in a way to either win based on that to actually exploit whatever some weakness in their argument might be or to find a place of congruence, which still would help us to a win."

That training, that was pivotal for me. I actually took some listening classes and that training was an absolute bedrock to the work that I’ve been able to do the last decade for sure. So, I’m grateful for that.

 

Fighting for Justice

Jessica: But what strikes me about your story, you know, I was so excited to talk to you today, is you were pretty myopic, on Joseph Kony, I mean. And there’s something I really value in that out of all of the genocides and the wars and the conflicts in the world, you had this conviction to take on this one and you stuck with it. And as someone who has definitely drank the Invisible Children Kool-Aid – I mean, I hosted a watching party at my house and just champion that cause. And Uganda is a country, that’s where our first Noonday Collection artisans are from, I traveled there frequently.

I am just so encouraged by your commitment to an area of the world, that to your point in the book, you know, how you had to just lay aside the continual anger and frustration that the actual entities that should have been doing something about this weren’t. So, I want to hear a little bit more about your “why.” Why Joseph Kony?

Shannon: For us, it actually really was a scenario where we had a mission statement and it was audacious and huge for the size of our foundation. It was to try and end genocide and mass atrocity on the globe. And we just weren’t doing that. We were doing a lot of funding into advocacy to try and stop some of the perilous things that were happening on the globe. And we were doing a ton of aftercare type funding. Building schools or looking for opportunities to help refugee populations that had been forced into their situation by a mass atrocity.

We weren’t doing our mission statement. And there was absolutely a moment where after the LRA committed a large-scale Christmas massacre over the holidays and hundreds were killed, it was awful. And children kidnapped. And we had been funding Invisible Children. We had been doing some of the advocacy funding on the LRA issue and then knowing that the LRA had been able to commit such a heinous crime. And it was almost like there was a disconnect between our advocacy funding and the idea that the LRA really would somehow cease to exist through that funding.

And we had to look ourselves in the mirror and just sort of say, "Are we going to change our mission statement? Are we going to do what we say?" That was the first question. And so, then if the answer is, "Let’s try and do what we say." The next question is, "Okay, where?" Because there was no way we were going to be able to sustain that level of engagement across all of the conflicts we were funding over and around the globe. I mean, we were funding into so many conflicts in different countries.

We took a look at it and the LRA kind of felt like low-hanging fruit, which is obviously such a joke now in hindsight. But it did feel like it had quite a few unique advantages in terms of us trying to do something really wonky and out of the box. It was a non-state actor that was perpetrating the crimes. You know, it wasn’t a head of state where the UN would have a substantial authority or where you would really get tangled with them. And then there was just sort of this global consensus about the bad guy. And Invisible Children are really the ones who built that global consensus. And that made things a lot simpler.

A lot of these atrocities across the globe, not the majority, but a lot of them. You know, there are people who would speak to both sides of the conflict. This was not one of those. And so that made this one really clear, also in terms of trying it. And the third thing that we had that was such a strategic advantage is there was already an actual partner on the ground that had sovereignty and permissions to be pursuing this group and trying to pursue a collapse to this group. There was a unique opportunity for us, as a private foundation, to sort of piggyback on that.

“A lot of these atrocities across the globe, not the majority, but a lot of them. You know, there are people who would speak to both sides of the conflict. This was not one of those.” Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Jessica: I want to pause really quickly for our listeners. And can you just give a quick synopsis for those that maybe were not part of the Invisible Children generation about the crisis in Northern Uganda?

Shannon: You know, it was awful. The LRA was Africa’s longest-running war, happening over multiple decades. And for a while, Joseph Kony, who was their main leader, would essentially kidnap these children for his army, usually at night but sometimes during the day. There was a lot of hype around that time around this idea of night commuting because parents would send their children off to these larger villages to sleep in the streets. Just hoping that there was safety in numbers in terms of whether or not their kids would be kidnapped.

And it was quite astonishing how quickly it grew and sort of the vast numbers that were being affected by this. And awful. Really evil. Really, really evil. You know, I think all conflicts, you know, have elements of that. This one felt just particularly evil. Kony had some pretty effective ways to try to put fear in those he’d kidnap. I write in my book about a man named David and his journey when he was kidnapped in his village of Pabo as a child. He was forced, while he was kidnapped, to say who he loves the most, his mother or his father. And maybe he’s sort of first was like, "You don’t answer that question. I love them both the same." And he was forced to answer that question. And upon answering it, that parent was killed.

And that David’s story was not unique in this conflict, unfortunately. It was a truly awful conflict. And the Invisible Children is a non-profit. This group, at the time they weren’t even called Invisible Children. It was a group of friends that went over to shoot a documentary in South Sudan about the crisis there. And due to lack of access, they ended up in Northern Uganda and they came across this crisis and decided to commit the better part of the next decade, last of their lives, to try and to tell the world about it.

 

The Path to Peace

Jessica: So, you write in your book this quote that I underlined, it says, "The listener has no right to hear without accepting responsibility for participating in the work of change." And your participation in that work – you went to law school, then you go and serve with International Justice Mission where you did fieldwork. But this is a whole ‘nother way of working on change. Suddenly you’re negotiating, you know, military contracts. Describe to us a little bit about your own internal process as you began to actually now understand, "We are going to end this genocide and we are going to stop Joseph Kony." And then kind of slowly as you’re traveling there and you’re having these meetings, realizing the implications of the route you were going to have to take.

Shannon: Yeah, no, it certainly was challenging. I do think that that statement in the book and obviously read as sort of a single sentence there, sounds really harsh but I think it’s real. I do believe that we are meant to share our humanity and we’re meant to exist alongside all of those who share this earth with us. And I do think that when we become aware of issues, that knowledge of those issues does command some sort of action. It’s interesting, you know, there’s really no such thing as inaction because inaction is an action. It is a choice not to do something.

“I do believe that we are meant to share our humanity and we’re meant to exist alongside all of those who share this earth with us. And I do think that when we become aware of issues, that knowledge of those issues does command some sort of action.” Shannon Sedgwick Davis

And so, we got into a situation there and we had gotten to know people on the ground, and we felt like we needed to do something. The exploration of that was very interesting and challenging. We were able to identify a couple of gaps on the ground based on deep listening of the community that was working there and the community that lived there, and really learned from them. And just kept coming back to these two gaps. One was a communications gap and the second was this idea that the Ugandan army, which was already in active pursuit of the LRA, just did not have training for the type of pursuit that was needed to stop the LRA.

The LRA was really exploiting the terrain in which they operated. And so, the communications part was pretty easy, you know. If you’ve heard of private foundations providing HF radios and helping to get communications to villages who need it. Gosh, even just the tiniest thought of getting engaged at any sort of military level, one of these conflicts was a real challenge. It was a challenge on a number of levels for me. I’m a pacifist at heart. My heart very much beats fast for justice because I do just crave a world where we are able to all live together in unity and peace.

And so, this idea of sort of doubling down on a potential military intervention against this army was definitely a challenge. It was one that I had to look at on a number of fronts, including the legal ones. So, the law degree was helpful in that regard in terms of how I thought about it. But also, in terms of the “do no harm” principle, it’s very difficult as philanthropists or even folks who want to volunteer and help. I would say that we don’t get that right very often. I would say at best, you know, 50/50 that we’re doing more good than harm a lot of times.

And a lot of it has to do again with just not… It’s just our response. Sometimes we have these responses to things that we see that are so different and we live so differently sometimes and much more comfortably than some of those that we might come across. And so, the natural instinct is to respond and give rather than to actually just be present and listen and learn and spend time building trust. And realizing sort of that wherever we might have a lot, in one sense, a lot of us actually have so little in other senses. So, we ended up getting so much from that and learning so much from that.

So that was the great challenge in considering whether or not we got engaged at that level. And it did, it took a lot of deep listening. I checked in with some pretty incredible mentors that I have been fortunate enough to have throughout my career. But at the end of the day, it was an enormous risk for us.

Jessica: Tell me a little bit about now with the current state of Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Shannon: So, the year before we got actively engaged in the conflict, there were almost 800 that were killed by the LRA that year. And the year that we withdrew the majority of our focus on this particular issue there were 13 killed by the LRA. And last year was an incredible low for the lifespan of the group. Eight were killed last year by the LRA. That’s still eight too many. But what we have seen is a real steady decline in terms of Joseph Kony and the LRA and their effectiveness. And they’ve really evolved and changed.

Kony, we believe, is probably still hiding out in a place that I talk about in the book that he was hiding out in during our operation and our work in the field. And then, you know, we’ve really just found that they’ve dialed back, fortunately, on the killings and the kidnappings. You’ll see the kidnapping spike at sometimes but a lot of times it’s short-term kidnappings, porters to carry their supplies, but it has radically changed.

Jessica: So, as you fall asleep at night you feel, “We are successful”?

Shannon: Successful, it depends on, you know, what we’re measuring against or what objective we’re measuring against. But we absolutely did what it was that we set out to do, it is, yeah. We set out to get engaged at a deeper level in this atrocious conflict and to try and show up for well or humanity. And doing that we were given this unique opportunity to meet some pretty extraordinary people that had incredible ideas about the issues that they were facing on a day to day basis and the issues that were in their backyard. And just getting to play even a small role in that was pretty remarkable.

I do look around in asymmetrical conflicts, that this is what one would consider or label an asymmetrical conflict. They’ve risen, they’ve not decreased in general on the globe. We have a lot of work to do. Humanity is going to need to get to a place where they just don’t accept this. There has to be some level of evil that we just say, "No, this is just too much." Like that just collectively as human beings and not country by country. Just collectively as fellow human beings that we just make a decision that that is a bridge too far. And that’s my great hope because otherwise, things tend to be and look like they’re getting worse, not better in a large sense.

That being said, traditional war and sort of country versus country war, which we saw, you know, throughout history and even recent history, that is definitely on the decline. So as one of the sort of new things that have risen in light of that are these asymmetrical conflicts. And so, we need to be paying as much attention to those and be just as serious about those.

 

A Call to Action

Jessica: Would you say one of your big why’s for putting your story in writing, is to call humanity forth to not tolerate the types of evil that you have actually borne witness to?

Shannon: No, absolutely. In fact, you know, that book writing process was awful, just on a number of fronts, it’s just hard in general. It took four years. It was a huge time commitment. Doing something that I never thought I’d do and that I never had any desire to do rather than doing what I love and what makes my heart beat fast. And so, I had to remind myself, you know, almost daily, that that’s what this was about. You know, that absolutely, if Bridgeway just moved on to the next conflict and did that the rest of my life, that we would not be able to sort of meaningfully dial back the level of these atrocities on the globe.

We have to invite others to participate in this work. We needed to get out there all the ways that we messed up so that hopefully someone will set out to do something in their own capacity and be able to learn from that, but also learn from some of the things that we got right. And that is all that matters to me in this. This story was almost too sacred for paper and it was because it was that sacred that we also had to share it. You know, there was just this stewardship responsibility that I didn’t sense. But then at the end, I found, yeah.

“This story was almost too sacred for paper and it was because it was that sacred that we also had to share it. You know, there was just this stewardship responsibility that I didn’t sense.” Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Jessica: Shannon, you are a mom of two. Two boys and you’re a wife. And I loved how you wove those roles throughout the book. Talk to me a little bit. I appreciated you have a non-traditional relationship with your husband and that you have been the primary breadwinner, the one to work. And I’m in the same situation just running Noonday Collection. It involves so much travel that a couple of years ago we decided to let Joe be more of the in-home parent. And we both grew up in the South. You and I both grew up in the South. Joe is from the Midwest. And that didn’t happen without a little bit of an internal dialogue for me. Tell me a little bit about your process.

Shannon: You know, it was absolutely challenging, and there’s no way that I could have done this, I could have been gone like this and traveled like this without Sam being willing to take a big step back professionally and be present. It was going to be too challenging with the amount of time that I was required to be away. Gosh, I’m so grateful to him for making that decision. It was very easy for him. It was harder for me. It was weirder for me. I am from South Texas and that was strange. We couldn’t find a lot of other examples for that in our community.

And for me, that was unique. At times, I felt like there was some serious eyeballs on me from other moms and maybe some of my older mom-friends as well. I had to respond to that in the truest sense of what my soul believed on that. And I was just convinced that, yes, I’m a mom. My greatest privilege. Oh, my goodness, my heart is no longer mine. It walks around in the chest of these two precious boys that I have. But also, that I was created to pursue justice, you know, and to pursue some of this work. And this idea that it actually in no way was opposed to each other, where those two things opposed.

Actually, that they were very much and sort of beautifully in symmetry. That if I did pursue the things that make my heart beat fast or the things that I believe I was built to do, that would be the greatest way to show up as their mom. And great hope with the aspiration that I’ve had since the moment they were born, that they will later with their lives do exactly what they’re meant to do in all the world. And this idea that I could model that for them was a pretty exciting one. And one that brought me deep joy, especially in the times where I felt a lot of judgment for those decisions and the times where it was just hard.

Jessica: Well, I love the story that you share that you were headed off to Africa and your son’s like, "Oh, mommy, are you going to go see the zebras?" And you paused and you thought that, "I want him to know, no, that’s not why I’m leaving you. It’s not to go on Safari." And you explained to him why you work on. So, tell us a little bit about that piece. You know, you obviously have a legacy going here with knowing about your mom and you and now how you’re forming your kids. You know, what were some of the things that you did to bring your kids along in the journey? How did you come home and kind of share? How did you bring them along on your own process? Because this went on for several years.

Shannon: It was a great challenge because they were… I mean, when, you know, the second Christmas massacres, first and second occurred, my kids were just so little and young. And so those early days where I was traveling, I mean, it was heartbreaking the day that Connor, my oldest looked at me and said, "Are you going back to Africa to see the zebras again?" You know, and I just realized that as he played with his little plastic Safari animals, that that was sort of his version of Africa in that young of a mind. And there was a careful balance. You know, we’ve always committed to each other, Sam and I, that we would never lie to these boys.

And so, there was a careful balance of, A, being honest, and B, being relevant to the age of, you know, that they were and in terms of being able to understand what it was that I was off doing. And so, it started with very small conversations around that. In a million years, I’d never leave that much to go see zebras and be away from that sweet boy. And we talked about that there were some kids that were in real trouble. And without trying to create fear in our children as well. But that there were some kids that were in real trouble and that there were these extraordinary people across the globe that were doing something about it and that we were hoping we could help them out a little bit.

And then that story just naturally evolved. And my children, you know, years later went through a big Star Wars phase. And so, when I would go to Africa, we laminated this huge map. I’d be in some forward base out in the middle of nowhere and they would want to know exactly where I was. So, we’d look at the coordinates and they’d always stick a little Jedi sticker where I was going to be. And they had gotten to know at that point, at least about Kony. And they always put the Darth Vader sticker where we thought Kony was. And they’d always ask me that.

And they asked me about my colleague, Laren, who you mentioned earlier. "Where will Mr. Laren be now?" They always had a sticker from Mr. Laren too. And that just, somehow, I think helped them realize and think about our proximity out there but also what it was we were doing. And you know, now with the book being out, and my boys are 10 and 14 now. My 14-year-old read the book. He’s been able to. My 10-year-old, at this point I’ve read him parts of the book and we’ve decided that, you know, it’s not the right time for him to read the entire book.

My boys are very close with David, who I feature through the book. Who I mentioned earlier, who was forced to make an awful… was forced to answer an awful question about which of his parents he loved the most and faced some pretty awful things. And so, Connor now knows David’s story but Brody, it just feels like Brody is still probably a little young to know that. And it also feels like perhaps when it’s time for Brody to know that part of David’s story, that that should be David’s decision. Perhaps David might want to share that with him.

So, we’re still dancing that line. All that to say, it still comes with just a lot of being thoughtful and realizing when you get it wrong and just trying to get it right a few more times.

 

Finding Power, Strength, and Courage to Change the World

Jessica: You’ve done it with so much intention, though. I wanted to talk a little bit about David. Because if there’s one thing that I just see in, you know, so many of my Ugandan friends, it is this resilience. And this, oftentimes, many of my Ugandan friends just turn their stories around, and then they want to do that for others. And David is such a powerful example of that. Can you tell us a little bit about the power of his story and why? You know, I’m sure there were many, many stories you could have used to anchor this book. Why David?

Shannon: David is an extraordinary friend. There are very few people I’ve met in life that seemed to transcend suffering the way that David has. His life is surely marked with incredible suffering and suffering that I certainly have never faced in my life. From the time that he was kidnapped at 16 to today because he chose, when he was able to run away and escape after being held in captivity by the LRA. And in doing so, a friend that escaped with him, I believe was killed in that escape. But David came back and he said, "It is important to me that I can actually do something about this problem and move forward in a way that’s powerful and try to make a change in this particular issue."

So, he went right back at the problem and basically said, "I’m going to do all that I can in my power." Sorry. That was my little guy. Oh. He just walked in. It’s like that show where the kids are behind there. And he brought me a note. It does say I love you at the end. It says, "Can I have a coke, please? I love you."

Jessica: Oh, my gosh.

Shannon: On notebook paper. I love it. David decided to go back into the trenches and try to make every difference than he could with regards to what was happening to his brothers and sisters in this particular issue area. And when he made that decision, he went all in. He started by doing peace clubs in the schools that he was attending. And then he ultimately started to do some incredible work with regards to, you know, helping reintegrate those who had been fighting in this awful war and those that were coming out of the bush.

He used his own experience to make those who were coming out feel comfortable. Ultimately, we supported his work. And when someone was rescued or someone defected, towards the end there it was a lot of defections and rescues as this was collapsing. He would be the first person to meet them and get them to safety. And then he would drive out to their villages. A lot of these kids might’ve been kidnapped at 15 and had been fighting for the LRA for two decades. You know, they’re now 35 and their families all think they’re dead.

And so, David would drive back to the villages and he would say, "You know, your son is out and he’s safe and he’s alive." And sometimes that would be met with just extraordinary joy and other times they would have already buried their child. And sometimes it was met with aggression because they thought David might be lying to them or giving them false hope. And David would drive away and then he’d drive back the next day and start again. And say, "What do you remember about your child?" And sometimes these kids were kidnapped very young and he would show them a picture and their families would have a tough time recognizing them but would notice a thing like little scars or something that would remind them of their child that had been gone for decades.

And so, David would just take the lead on those things over and over – a tremendous soul, a gift to us all. And someone I just want to be more and more like every day.

Jessica: Well, his story was so powerful, and I just encourage everyone to read this book. It is a powerful story of what it looks like when you commit and believe in what’s possible. And as much as, you know, I love your call for humanity to rise up and not tolerate evil and that there is a strong motivation to not tolerate evil. But I love how David’s story is such one of hope and shows the goodness. The goodness that is in humanity. And that when we can tap into that what we can do. What would you say to the person listening right now who wants to respond? And what can the average person do when they hear about genocide and about these atrocities?

Shannon: I think what’s most important is to really learn. I mean, read as much as you can, read from different sources. Really come to understand what people are facing, especially in issue areas that you have a unique interest in. And then I think it’s to figure out what role you’re meant to play in this. And that doesn’t mean sort of goes to 0 the warlord in 60 seconds. But it might just mean, you know, setting up a protest or writing someone in a position of power, or asking the right kind of questions, or having a book club.

“I think what’s most important is to really learn. I mean, read as much as you can, read from different sources. Really come to understand what people are facing, especially in issue areas that you have a unique interest in. And then I think it’s to figure out what role you’re meant to play in this.” Shannon Sedgwick Davis

And those are not throwaway things at all. Those are incredibly important things. Because if the collective soul of humanity is outraged by something and it’s focusing that outrage, then those who are experiencing this awfulness are having their voices heard just a little more. And I believe that sparks just as an overwhelming wave of hope and power. We are so much more powerful than we all know. Far more powerful than we know. And as we sort of lean into allowing ourselves to be present to something and to be present to the suffering of others, we can really, in that vulnerability, I think, oftentimes find our power, and our strength, and courage.

Jessica: I admire people with “stick-with-it-ness.” I admire tenacity. I admire that success is primarily the function of just not giving up. And I know that many of us right now are down. We have fallen. So many of us have been put in situations where our families lost some of the oxygen that we’re used to living off of. And some of us have lost jobs or our businesses have been severely impacted by the shutdown of the economy. And what Shannon’s story tells me today, and so many of the stories in this series, is that we just need to stand back up again with hope, with courage, with belief, and with gratitude. That is resilience.

Thank you so much for joining me today and on this series. I have something really fun in store for you next. We are going to do a tech series all about how to have digital health during the summertime, when I know all of my good tech habits tend to go out the window. I cannot wait. We have some incredible conversations, tips, and truly transformational ways to think about technology and our families and ourselves. So, tune in for our next series on digital health.

Today’s podcast is produced by Eddie Kaufholz. Our music today is by my friend Ellie Holcomb. And I’m your host, Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.