Monday, November 20, 2017

Sad, Afraid, Speechless, Stunned, and Hopeful

Those words present the wide-range of feelings and reactions I continue to have over the news stories that never end. Tonight it was Charlie Rose. Last weekend it was Al Franken. Add that to Roy Moore, seemingly countless entertainment celebrities, legislators on all sides, even an NPR news executive. The biggest name continues to be Donald Trump, but he is not alone.

I admit to sadness, but no surprise at the Franken disclosure. Just when many of us liberals and progressives were beginning to get out of our Trump Funk (It only took a year!), we get knocked back by the awareness that this is not a liberal or conservative issue. We have tried to do that in the past, especially since many of the conservatives being accused have been "paragons of family values." (Liberals- being liberal- have always been accused of these kinds of immoral values.) But when it comes right down to today's news, it makes no difference.

Everyone seems to have clay feet! Which should not surprise anyone who is a person of faith or spirit. If we are honest, we would be the first to admit the awareness of what Paul says in Romans 7:

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (NIV)
Unfortunately too often the religious right seems to forget that this applies to them as much as anyone else. They try to hide their human failings behind the righteous life they claim to live. That does not excuse it, however. The actions are still wrong. Period! End of discussion.

But this post isn't about that side of the issue. What has struck me most powerfully over these past few weeks since the Weinstein revelations became top news is the pace at which this has happened. Think about it. Before Weinstein things were normal. White male privilege was firmly entrenched from Hollywood to the White House to Alabama. Sexual harassment was the order of the day.

And then suddenly it wasn't.

A couple years ago we were amazed at how quickly opinion about, and acceptance of, same-gender marriage changed. It was almost like whiplash. One day it was wrong. And then suddenly it wasn't.

The same thing has just been happening from a different direction. This time it's women who are taking their power and running with it. They are not backing down. They are calling sexual abuse wrong! They are standing up to power, white male privileged power, and saying, "Enough!" They are advocating for change in some very basic issues in our society.

We are even hearing more about Bill Clinton and a little about the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. These were earlier skirmishes in what has become this major move forward. In other words, these are not just things that are happening now. FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy were guilty of a number of things that we know about- and many that we don't. People are saying "No!"

The powers that be don't like it. Those who benefit by the system the way it is will fight back. They will build walls, figurative, metaphorical, and real, to keep others out. Some of the fights will be symbolic; others will be for real progress for real people. The fight over health care and the tax bill are examples of fights that will occur on many different fronts.

Perhaps this is a natural outcome of the Trump election. The dark underbelly of American culture and politics took the spotlight. Trump flaunted it, reveled in it, put it into 140 characters or less every day on Twitter. We could no longer pretend that it wasn't there. We began to realize that the system can perhaps best be described by the WW 2 acronym: SNAFU. Systems Normal, All Fucked Up. (Usually credited to the Marines. Not a surprise there.)

But it doesn't have to remain that way.

Resist. Move ahead. Become an ally. Speak up. Stand with the victims.

In spite of the stunned and fearful reactions of some, I actually find hope in the breaking down of this patriarchal system of abuse and worse. Maybe we will be able to make significant and world-changing movements.

I pray that it is so.

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