Sunday, October 7, 2018

Ave Maria

"What are mere mortals that you should be mindful of them, human beings that you should care for them? "  (Psalm 8)

"Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them."  (Exodus 3)

"Dave, I am so full of fury I do not know what to do."

This person is not alone.  Our nation has just come through a bitter fight over the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.  Allegations of a sexual assault during his youth were raised during the confirmation hearings.  A cursory investigation followed,  yet even before the results were in, the vote to confirm was scheduled.  For some there is a satisfaction that justice prevailed.  And for others, rage at the indifference to the victimization of women by men, and the sense that their experience and suffering has been dismissed.

I don't know what actually happened with Brett Kavanaugh.  I can speak with no authority on the veracity of the allegations against him.  As a liberal democrat, I realize that even if his nomination had been revoked, another judge with conservative leanings would have been nominated.

But what I do know is that for many there is a overwhelming sense that an alleged crime against women was dismissed as of no consequence, and that in doing so we have devalued the experience of women.  And so many across this country, especially those who have their own stories of abuse, find themselves full of fury and rage at the injustice of it all.  Doesn't it at least merit a full investigation?  In the end, it was determined that the nomination would proceed without a full investigation and the outcome was basically a foregone conclusion.

When faced with suffering and injustice in this country, it matters who you are.  And if you are accused, the presumption of innocence is dependent on your status.  It mattered that Donald Trump was a rich celebrity running for president.  "And when you are a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything."  "I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn't lose any voters, ok?  It's like, incredible."  I don't believe a lot of what Trump says, but I'm starting to believe this.

The situation would be much different if the person involved was an 18 year old black man.

And the suffering of women, or victims in general, is widely dismissed.  Boys will be boys, and boys love their toys.  Unfortunately, for too many boys women are but toys and the pursuit of them a mere game, without regard to the consequences.  "Women like to be taken by force."  Well, I've heard of no woman who would agree with this.  Yet in the pursuit to score, it remains a male conviction.  No doesn't always mean no.  It's supposed to, but it doesn't.  "No" too often is interpreted as 'try harder'.  And women become victims.  "She'll object at first, but then she'll be turned on and it will drive her crazy!"  (This is an actual quote from the man that abused me as a child as he was teaching me about sexual relations.")

The result is a feeling of being devalued.  A crisis of self worth.  And an outrageous fury at being a 'non-person'.  This is not new.  Patriarchy is firmly entrenched throughout history.  Women were not allowed to be witnesses.  Their word of testimony meant nothing.

Her accusations were viewed as a vicious attack on his character, he was viewed as the victim, and the presumption of his innocence, and her guilt, was so great that a full investigation was deemed not necessary.  Welcome to the Supreme Court.

"Dave, I am so full of fury I do not know what to do."

My first response is a prayer.  I pray that I have not hurt any woman, any person, and I pray for forgiveness if I have.  I am ashamed to admit that during my drinking days I did things that I now deeply regret.  Yesterday, during a wedding sermon in which I spoke about the need to forgive, I turned to the bride and said "If you need help learning how to forgive, perhaps you should speak to my wife as she has forgiven me often."

"What are mere mortals that you should be mindful of them, human beings that you should care for them? "  (Psalm 8)

"Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them."  (Exodus 3)

What can I say to a woman who has been a victim, and for whom justice have never been done?  

God is mindful of them.

God cares for them.

God has heard their sufferings, and has come down to deliver them.

In my own fury, I'm tempted to add "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."

I'm struggling.  I'd like to do something to address the issue of injustice toward victims in this world.  Actually, this is one cause I championed to no avail during one of my manic phases.  And yet there is a patronizing aspect to my desire to save women from this injustice.  Patriarchy is hard to shed.

Though its foreign to our Church, I find myself wondering if those who have been victimized as women need to turn to the Virgin Mary for help.  Perhaps it will take a healing word from a woman to redeem this brokenness.  And perhaps, this holy maiden may bear Christ for the healing of victims everywhere.  

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