I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.
–Edward Everett Hale
What makes a father of two young children want to run 30 marathons with handcuffs on?
Garrett Jonsson says simply:
“I love my wife, I love my kids, I love my community and I love you. I believe that LOVE is worth fighting for. I believe that if I’m not actively fighting against pornography, then I’m aiding its growth.”
Breaking the silence
Garrett was sick of letting the porn industry destroy individuals and families. So the year of his 30th birthday (2016), he decided to do something that would get people to stop and take notice. He committed to run 26.2 miles everyday for 3O days in handcuffs. It was his way to break the silence and start a public conversation about pornography. A conversation to bring awareness to the fact that pornography does not discriminate between race, gender or age. A conversation that acknowledges that everyone is vulnerable and everyone is worth fighting for. Watch the following video to learn more:
If 30 marathons in 30 days isn’t inspiring enough, when he finished his last race Garrett turned to his wife and said, “I need to do more. What would you think if I cycled from coast to coast?”
Her response … “You HAVE to!”
A month later he began a journey across nine states, dragging seven heavy chains behind him. The chains represent the addictive nature of porn and the heavy burden it places upon individuals and our society.
For Garrett the burden of pornography started at the tender age of nine. It was at a sleepover party that he was introduced to it for the first time. He had no idea then that this brief encounter with illicit materials would be the start of a life battle to overcome pornography.
Today he cherishes moments of bliss — times when he knows his mind is exactly in line with his heart. But he holds no punches by saying that each one of those moments has been hard won. In his online cycling journal Garrett wrote:
“There were times I didn’t want to press forward. There were times when it felt like TOO much. This same feeling happens during the road of addiction and recovery; but the key is to put one foot in front of the other. PRESS FORWARD, even if you have to crawl. After 3,800 miles, 56 days, 9 states, 7 chains and 1 fight… I FINISHED. I completed this task in the best way possible, with my wife.”
Talents to change the world
Garrett is an incredible individual with an amazing story. But his story is not as unique as you might think. People all over the world are using their talents to inspire a cultural change against pornography. This is what I learned at UCAP (Utah Coalition Against Pornography) this past weekend.
UCAP is an annual conference that has been held in Salt Lake City for the past 15 years. Speakers and organizers from all over gather for one day, united in the single cause to overcome pornography. Parents, educators, counselors and ecclesiastical leaders participate by the thousands in various workshops to learn how to lift this burden from our society.
It was at the insistence of my good friends at Protect Young Minds that I made my way to the conference for the first time. It was such a thrill for me to meet so many of my heroes in the fight against pornography. To my delight, I discovered several new ones too. I learned that each one of them has a unique story and a reason to fight. Furthermore each one uses their individual talents to fill a special niche in the work.
After sharing stories of half a dozen regular individuals making a difference in their community Clay Olsen, founder of Fight the New Drug urged everyone in attendance to become a part of this movement. He said to find an organization that speaks to what you want to accomplish. And if you can’t find it where you live, start it.
Here are just some of the heroes I met this week. Perhaps you’ll find something in these organizations that speaks to you. There are other fighters too —just too many to mention here.
Matt Fradd — Integrity Restored
Key conference message: The fundamental reason porn is wrong is that it reduces people to things to be used instead of treating them with intrinsic dignity and unalienable rights.
Clay Olson — Fight the New Drug
Key conference message: Despite the heartache and struggle our society faces around the issue of pornography there is hope in the rising generation’s fight for love.
Kristen Jenson — Protect Young Minds
Key conference message: When kids know what pornography is, how it can hurt them, and what to do when they see it, even young children can develop their own internal filter.
Dina Alexander — Educate Empower Kids
Key conference message: In our device-saturated culture we encourage connection, education, open communication and positive, deliberate parenting.
Sam Black — Covenant Eyes
Key conference message: We can teach children to exercise and train their heart and minds to be skillful, daring, and brave. You are your kids most valuable asset when you are engaged in all aspects of their lives.
Lacy Bentley — Women United Recovery Coalition
Key conference message: To empower women to stand up and be counted in the war on sexual exploitation, not just as victims, but as individuals who have experienced the negative impact of their own pornography addictions and sexually exploitative behaviours.
My story and yours
Like Garrett and my other conference heroes, I too was sick of doing nothing while the porn industry continued its work to destroy individuals and families. I was sick of mainstream media sending the message that porn was cool, fun and acceptable. I was sick of the misunderstandings and judgment cast towards those who find themselves caught in a cycle of porn use. I was sick of my own ignorance about how far reaching porn addiction is. I was sick of not knowing where to go to ask questions. I was sick of the silence.
When I couldn’t find an organization in my community to join, I started Parents Aware. I don’t run marathons, or cycle across the country, or write books. I simply ask parents to join the conversation, to get educated and talk to their kids about pornography. And then I ask these parents, like YOU, to share with us your own amazing stories —including your fears, your stumbles, and your beautiful successes.
As we continue to build this community together, it’s our goal to support one another as we all work towards the same objective. Please keep the conversation going.
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