Is this how we treat women in our culture?

A presidential candidate of a major US political party has commented that he has sexually assaulted women; there are women who will corroborate his claim. This is not about the language he used; this is about what he said, and that he has acted on what he said multiple times.

Some of you are already knee-jerk reacting to this. You are not letting this sink in. In our political process, this is the person who has risen to the top of the heap.

We, as a nation are seriously broken. In earlier times no one would question that this person’s political career was over. Yet we are busy trying to justify it, to find reasons for why it is OK.

Most of us know women who have been sexually assaulted. If the women felt they could trust the culture more, I suspect that more would admit to it.

This has a horrible and lasting effect on women. Yes, many have risen above it — and many still battle what was done. It is especially hard on those women who were betrayed by someone they trust. I know of one who daily battles thoughts of suicide over being raped when she was a teenager. The damage it does is immense.

We owe it to all women to take this seriously. Healing is much easier when women are validated and believed. Minimizing and victim blaming serve only to re-offend the abuse at the hands of those who should be helping.

On the Suicide of a Gifted Artist

Robin Williams killed himself.

I have resisted writing about Robin Williams’ suicide.

But what I have heard from so many has spurred me to say these few words.

Robin Williams’ suicide reminds us of how fragile we are. While it is tragic that such a gifted man took himself away from us, he has left us this gift, if we will but accept it.

I have heard the many opinions about how suicide is a choice and how it was drug abuse and blah, blah, blah. People are angry at Robin for what he did. That is a normal part of grief, and if expressed healthily it can be a good thing. What is NOT healthy is to question Robin’s motivations: we can’t know that. What is also NOT healthy is to blame: choices, drugs, lifestyle, mental health. We also cannot know that. We don’t know what level of physical, emotional, spiritual pain he lived with. We don’t get to judge that. It is not our place. Some can point out rightly that Robin’s suicide is a symptom of a larger social problem, but a symptom of what? Sensitive souls feel things that most of us deny. What deadly substance in the fabric of our society did Robin die as a canary to tell us?

Behind the anger and the blaming is fear. Robin made us aware that the facade we live day-to-day is fragile, that our illusions of being OK are fragile. Robin’s tragic last act has pierced the illusion. Rather than face our fear, we use our anger to push it down, blaming one thing or another. We are afraid to feel empathy, for empathy would require us to acknowledge and own our own disordered thoughts.

WE ARE INSANE, by some definition or another. Our insanity will lead to some sort of death. We can only recover our health by admitting both our individual and corporate insanity. Robin has very rudely thrust that in our face. We can begin to look at our individual and corporate insanity and begin to heal; or we can push it back down under our denial and continue to race towards our own group suicide — or we can take this moment to stop, look, feel, put down our digital devices and connect with each other.

One of my favourite quotes from Robin is, “I used to think the worst thing was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” We move about in a world where that is the norm. Please people, let us be human with each other. Let’s use our many gadgets to make life easier, not to replace life with an illusion. Let us embrace our own fragility, and the fragility of our neighbours, parents, children — even our enemies. Let us share the discomfort of that fragility together.

If any of you who are reading this are wrestling with thoughts of suicide, please click on this link

On the Suicide of a Notorious Criminal

Shall I desire at all the death of the sinner? saith the Lord, but rather I desire that he should turn from his evil way and live. (Ezekiel 18:23) As I live, I desire not the death of the ungodly, but that the ungodly should turn from his way and live. Turn ye with turning from your way; why will you die? (Ezekiel 33:11)

Ariel Castro committed suicide yesterday. There are outpourings of joy that the world is rid of this truly warped man. There are also cries of anger. Much of that anger is justified. For a man created in God’s Image, Mr. Castro did decidedly wicked and twisted things with that Image, warping it almost beyond recognition with no “Likeness” of the God in Whose Image he was created. I understand the anger. I cannot take joy in this man’s departure at his own hand. He died as he lived, trying to control everything for his convenience, without consideration for others. Yet in death, his horrible twistedness cannot be healed. Therefore I cannot rejoice. A man has chosen to die as he lived, in destructiveness. He has chosen this over healing. It is a horrible thing, not something to be delighted in. Our lack of mercy towards even the most twisted among us creates a wound in us that also needs healing. God can heal; it is not upon any of us to rejoice in one who has taken himself away from healing. Such a desire is against God and wounds our soul.

May the Lord grant me time for repentance and healing.