Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Need for Stuff Is Real…But At What Cost?

Written by: on November 9, 2019

The Four is a raw book about the four tech giants that play a major role in today’s society. I found it interesting that the author related these four companies to the Four Horseman in the Bible. I also thought it fascinating that the author noted that these giants exist because of consumer demand. The need for stuff is real – and Amazon Prime holds 52% of the market share. Yet, it is because of our consumerism that this giant (and others like it) exists.[1]

I related Galloway’s book to my studies of human trafficking in many ways. Human trafficking is a market-driven industry that is based on the concept of supply and demand, similar to “the four” in the aspect of supply and demand fueling the fire. Many factors make children and adults vulnerable to human trafficking. However, human trafficking does not exist solely because many people are vulnerable to exploitation. Instead, it also exists because of market demand.[2]

Human traffickers are those who employ force, fraud, or coercion to victimize others in their desire to profit from the existing demand. To ultimately solve the problem of human trafficking, it is essential to address these demand-driven factors, as well as to alter the overall market incentives of high-profit and low-risk that traffickers currently exploit. I found the correlation between human trafficking and “the four” quite intriguing.

There are three parts that drive demand with regards to human trafficking. They include the men who purchase the sexual favors, the traffickers who provide the victims, and the culture that allows sexual exploitation to happen. Other elements that open the door to human trafficking include: gender inequalities, easy access for pornography, enhanced globalization, lack of accountability for suppliers and buyers, and lack of services for victims once they are rescued.[3]

Gender roles play a part in the issue of sex trafficking in the United States. It cannot be ignored that more buyers are men – and the majority of victims are female. Cultural dynamics of how men are perceived by women (as well as by other men) play a role in why we, as a nation, continue to fuel a culture of rape, violence, and the notion that sex should be violent – and that violence is somehow sexy.

Galloway asked us to reflect on what’s good for Amazon may be bad for society.[4] Yet, how do we get out from under the heaviness of consumerism? Just as the author shared about how “the four” have become masters of enticement (learning more about our inner desires than we would like to admit), the same is true in the world of human trafficking. Victims are hand-selected and groomed by their trafficker. The trafficker knows the signs of vulnerability and then promises of a better life are extended to the victim. They tell victims that they can fill their needs by providing housing, food, and even attention and affection. They also tell victims that they will always be there for them, as others don’t understand them. According to the trafficker, it is only they (the trafficker) who can provide what they are looking for.

I find it interesting that “the four” tout themselves as the answer to filling our needs and providing what we are looking for. It is also intriguing that we are coaxed into believing that “the four” will always be there for us and that others don’t really understand our needs. Hmmm, I am thinking there may be a correlation…what do you think?

[1] Scott Galloway, The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2017), 27.

[2] Amy Joy, Human Trafficking 101 (Chicago: Joy Publishing, 2018), 43

[3] Joy, Human Trafficking 101, 88

[4] Galloway, The Four, 40

About the Author

Nancy VanderRoest

Nancy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and fulfills God's calling on her life by serving as a Chaplain & Counselor with Hospice. In her spare time, Nancy works with the anti-human trafficking coalition in her local community.

10 responses to “The Need for Stuff Is Real…But At What Cost?”

  1. Nancy, I love the way you have correlated human trafficking with Galloway’s narative of the four horsemen and the exploitation of the human consumerism behavior.You have helped me to understand human trafficking in a more clearer way. I constantly witness the exploitation of the poor in my context because of their vulnerability, and its so true that they easily fall for the cheap promises that are made to “relief their pain” and I abhor it! How can we mobilize the church to pay more attention to this modern day slavery, social injustice and economic exploitation? Is it a government failure to put and enforce the necessary laws or is it the general result of the systemic moral breakdown of our society?

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks so much for your comments, Wallace. That’s my dilemma…figuring out how to mobilize the church to support in the fight against human trafficking. I am working on a tool kit to help churches begin to embrace the fight and help with this crisis in our world today.

  2. Mary Mims says:

    Nancy, I agree with your correlation between consumerism and human trafficking. It is still fulfilling a lust, a lust of the flesh. Obviously, all these lust grow together. As stated in I John 2:16, For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world; this is the world we are living in now.

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Thanks for your response, Mary. I agree – this world is filled with so much evil. I am just so overjoyed to know that God still sits on the Throne – and we will always be under His protection and surrounded by His love!

  3. Karen Rouggly says:

    Nancy, great job relating this to your work. I think it’s an interesting correlation and one to be explored for sure. You’re right in that so much of what we consume is by market culture and grooming – be it sex or chocolate. I can’t wait to read more of what you’re writing!

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Karen, thanks so much for your response – and for mentioning my writing on the zoom call. I appreciate it…and YOU! Blessings to you, special lady!

  4. Digby Wilkinson says:

    It is interesting that Galloway writes about how the Four justify their almost illegal behaviour on the basis that it benefits society, but perhaps more importantly how they change the language to describe their actions as morally justified. Ironically, most organisations do it to some extent when they are caught in the spotlight of truth. I’m currently part of the Royal Commission on Child Abuse in Social Care (This includes church schools, orphanages and government social services) and I am staggered at the the way denial is navigated. Mostly it is done by changing the language in such a way that the victims are acknowledged, but then reminded that given their original circumstances things could have been so much worse, so weren’t they fortunate! Have you seen that behaviour among traffickers?

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      Hi Digby. Yes, I’m seen this same philosophy in the world of trafficking. Traffickers are actually “caught of guard” when they are arrested, because they often don’t see themselves as being in the wrong; they tell themselves they are just providing a service. It’s the “twist” in thought and words that help them live with themselves – even as they are destroying the lives of their victims. Perspective and perceptions can certainly become twisted, eh?

  5. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Nancy the way you tie this in to your research is both impressive and haunting. The power dynamic you describe is disgusting but all too common. Thank you for your truth telling!

    • Nancy VanderRoest says:

      You are so sweet, Jacob. I appreciate your feedback. It was an easy correlation between The Four and human trafficking. It’s all about market demand…as sad as that is. Let me know when you make it to Michigan. I’d love to catch up with you. And congrats on your new opportunities in DC.

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