Pass the Compassion, please…


(when your whole country is a trigger, it’s hard to dodge the bullets)

Well, happy Thanksgiving, all!

(DISCLAIMER!  By ‘you’ I don’t mean YOU -unless the ‘you’ fits. This is how I write-for me, “one this” or “one that” is cumbersome and too formal for most of my topics.)

I have a bit of advice for you as you prepare to sit down with family and friends and instead of speaking your gratitude, would rather expound on the ubiquitous, never-ending stream of sexual abuse/assault/harassment stories that abound in our nation right now:

Don’t, unless you’re going to speak with non-judgment and compassion.

Seriously, don’t. Unless you’re willing to open your mind and heart and listen? Willing to have the uncomfortable and honest discussion? Willing to stop victim-blaming? Willing to prioritize empathy over your need to dominate the conversation/be “right” in an argument, or, for some, validate your own previous behavior? Nah, today, especially, is not the day.

Why?

(DISCLAIMER again: I’m not espousing that the topic shouldn’t be discussed, ever. On the contrary-honest and fearless exchanges on this subject, had they not been avoided, could have saved countless {and I do meant countless, having seen all of the “me, too” hashtags} girls and boys from life-altering trauma. Talk about it. LISTEN about it. LEARN about it. Early and often, please.)

Because tensions are high. Because in some families, confrontation is the deal during family get-togethers. Because copious amounts of alcohol. People get really stupid when they drink, while still perceiving themselves and their behavior as perfectly rational, and of course, ‘right.’ Because one person’s victim conspiracy theory comment is another’s trigger. Yep. I said it. The “T” word. Because, to use another term at which some people  now scoff, family should be your “safe place.” Whether it be a thoughtless comment, or a relentless victim-blaming  tirade, you could really be stabbing somebody in the heart.

Because, if you’re in a large group situation, no matter what your political leanings (and I still don’t get how sexual abuse became a partisan topic), chances are very good that one or more of these are the case:

  • Someone at the table has experienced molestation, an assault, or harassment, and you just weren’t chosen to be in on the story, or that someone hasn’t chosen to speak yet.
  • If someone at the table has been molested, it’s very possible that the perp is at the table too, passing you the mashed potatoes.
  • The victim (who will be referred to as ‘survivor’ from this point) is already tied in knots at the notion of sitting at this table (whether perp is present or not) and trying to act normal.
  • The survivor has been emotionally shredded for weeks now, as there has been nothing else discussed on talk shows, in kitchens, or in the news-the topics of sexual assault and pedophilia are inescapable. While there is so much good in women and men coming forward and speaking their truth, the consequence for survivors is the daily or hourly re-living of events that slice and dice more keenly than whatever you’re using to julienne the veggies for your feast.
  • The survivor across the table is so tired, and just wants to enjoy a few hours of peace and fellowship with her family before the next news story about the latest accusation comes out and fuels the cycle of brain-fry/heartbreak.
  • Your aunt/sister/mother/cousin/brother has spent weeks/months/years/decades wondering: what her life could have been like without the disaster; what greatness she might have achieved without the anchor of (unearned) shame weighing her to the floor; what it might have felt like to enjoy her thin-ness when she was; why being pretty was a crime or being an ounce overweight was the ruination of a woman; how faithful he could have been had the church not been a place of horror; what self-esteem feels like; what good could have been done with the tens of thousands spent on therapy and meds; what ‘normal’ is; trying not to cry when his friends talk about ideal childhoods. Wondering why people say, ‘such a long time ago, just get over it!’ when apparently it’s only the survivor’s club who knows that getting over “it” doesn’t happen.  “It”  became part of what molded her into the person she is.  It’s one of many aspects, to be sure, but those who lived through it have permanent scars, and those scars are burning right now. You could douse the flames just a little if you choose:
  • When you bloviate about party plants, what the governor thinks, what Jane Curtin signed, the “He totally denies it!” proclamation, or the more local “what was she wearing?” “was she drunk?” analysis, the person who just passed the green bean casserole uses every ounce of self-control she had not to bean you with it. His mind is short-circuiting and he’s making the healthy promise to himself to never attend a family function ever again, for his own sanity’s sake.
  • If Drunk Uncle begins a rant, be the one to exclaim, “New Subject!” if that’s the best you can do. Better yet, first tell him he’s wrong, then change the subject. Your table mates will (silently, most likely) thank you. The survivor(s) at the table will take a breath and smile a little, knowing s/he has a champion in you.

Think:

  • Trying to function unscathed for the last few weeks-trying to avoid teeth-grinding, sudden tears, nightmares, or flashbacks? Nearly impossible. The survivors need major consideration and compassion right now. Just because you haven’t heard about it doesn’t mean that your sister, cousin, mother, aunt, or grandparent-isn’t holding it together by a thread.
  • As in the meme above, if you would prefer a probable pedophile to a Democrat in Alabama, might be a good idea to keep that gem of a notion to yourself, no matter whose company you’re enjoying. It also might be a good idea for some introspection, but I digress.
  • These overindulgence-fueled conversations can make a survivor, for a few moments, anyway, forget about how steel-strong he really is and how relentlessly courageous she is at her core.  It puts a survivor back to a place he or she has chosen to transcend; this place may fit your comfort zone because it’s the world you recognize, but for so many, there’s no comfort in that particular familiar.
  • As ever, as always, kindness matters. It matters more than political bent, more than your desire to score verbal points over your nephew, more than your ego or your biases.

Choose kindness today. So many people, survivors or not, will be Thankful for it.

Peace, friends,

Compassion, friends.

Courage, “club.”

*New comment below; it’s a must-read! Thanks, Lisa King.

Visit:

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Rainn.org

 

 

 

It’s my Party, and I’ll post if I want to!


“Well, I SAW it online, so…”

This post is borne of the “furious-typing-Kermit-the-Frog” moment I had last night, aimed at someone I love, and is also my reaction to a whole passel of re-posted and inaccurate posts that hit my newsfeed this morning that are drivel passed off as actual news.

Read first for context:   https://goo.gl/oUvJh5

Repeat after me, 3 times:

“These memes, unverified stories, and mislabeled/doctored photos are hurtful, incite anger, perpetuate prejudice and spread lies.

These memes, unverified stories, and mislabeled/doctored photos are hurtful, incite anger, perpetuate prejudice and spread lies.

These memes, unverified stories, and mislabeled/doctored photos are hurtful, incite anger, perpetuate prejudice and spread lies.”

I will admit to posting a few unverified stories over the years. Not many, but it has happened. When called out, I have apologized and deleted the post.

It doesn’t matter to me what party or agenda the BS meme or ‘story’ supports-if it’s inaccurate or unkind, it’s inaccurate or unkind.

A couple of hints: if the source (hint: the word “source:______” is located at the bottom of the post, or if you’re forwarding an article you can tell whether the article is from a verifiable news source/show or simply a blog/opinion show) is an email from Drunk Uncle with a million forward arrows and has multicolored flashing ALL CAPS, or if the post has any version of:

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Deafening Silence: White Silence and Alton Sterling


This. Break the silence.

(Excellent words, but not mine. Re-blogged from another writer)

 

Form Follows Function

I want to start by being very specific about who I am talking to; this post is meant for people who look like me, those of us with white skin.

Many of you woke up this morning and heard the news about Alton Sterling, the 37 year old man who was shot and killed by the police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The sickening feeling in your stomach probably hit you hard as you watched the cell phone footage of a police officer charging and tackling Sterling to the ground. You knew what was coming next. And, within seconds you saw it: the police officer mounts Sterling like a UFC fighter. There is no confrontation. No struggle. Sterling is subdued and then another officer yells “Gun. Gun.” The officer on top of Sterling pulls his gun and within seconds fires multiple rounds killing Alton Sterling.

This morning my Facebook feed…

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…what was that Statue of Liberty thing again?


The height of vanity, isn’t it, to reblog myself?
I was revamping my blog, going through posts and cleaning them up, when I got to this one that I wrote SIX years ago. It wasn’t terrorists that fueled the mean then, it was the fear of a drop in property value, which, wow. But it points to a different truth-do we just look for a reason to not welcome those in dire straits, because we might-gasp-have to sacrifice something in order to do so? I stand, during this Syrian refugee debate, in the same spot as I did with Haitian refugees six year ago.

also, this: Award-Winning Marine Just Tweeted A Perfect Response To The Syrian Refugee Crisis

"...but I'm not the only one..."

Give me….who?

“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?”

-Pablo Casals

Boggled. That is my mind right now–befuddled and boggled.

I read the comments section (I know, the last thing ANYONE sane should do is read the comments) that follows an online article about Haitian refugees being flown into the states, both adults to come stay with family members already here, and children and babies here to be taken in and adopted by Americans.

I’m not going to add any power to those comments by quoting them. You know the drill: a bunch of powerless ignorants who think if they spew enough garbage, someone will finally validate their existence. Hate and bigotry are their drugs of choice.  It blows my mind to read such drivel.

Basically, the sentiment is that we should NOT be taking in our  human brothers and…

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No, You’re Not Imagining It: 3 Ways Racial Microaggressions Sneak into Our Lives — Everyday Feminism


We are NOT Post-Racial. Hard to look at? I'll bet it's harder to be on the receiving end-ALL the time.
We are NOT Post-Racial. Hard to look at? I’ll bet it’s harder to be on the receiving end-ALL the time.

I posted this piece on my Facebook page as well. The truth and civility with which it was written are stunning.  I encourage you to read every word, even when it feels a little uncomfortable, even when you recognize that there might be things that need to change in your paradigm, the worldview you were raised to find acceptable, and/or your own behavior.

Thanks to Everyday Feminism and Anni Liu for the amazing essay.

Peace, friends.

Click the link below to read this eye-opening piece.

No, You’re Not Imagining It: 3 Ways Racial Microaggressions Sneak into Our Lives — Everyday Feminism.

Speak up, even when it's scary. Staying silent so as not to 'rock the boat?' Another Microagression.
Speak up, even when it’s scary. Staying silent so as not to ‘rock the boat?’ Another Microagression.

This happened only 40 years ago.


(I copied/pasted the following article because the comments in the article’s page on the web had sunk into the usual troll hell of who is MORE Christian, and had little to do with anything other than a bunch of people who had taken over the comment section to proclaim their holiness and wish brimstone upon anyone who disagreed.)

This happened during OUR lifetimes. I was 11 at the time. The Supreme Court of the United States is pondering some big decisions this week. I am posting today in honor of my LGBT friends who deserve equality and civil rights–overdue to the point of being ludicrous. I stand with you this week as you, as we, wait for what I pray is a triumphant shift in the heartbeat of our country.

WARNING: I posted both photos from the article, and one of them is a graphic sledgehammer to the gut. So for those of us who need a perspective check, THIS is what real persecution looks like.

“Remembering the UpStairs Lounge: The U.S.A.’s Largest LGBT Massacre Happened 40 Years Ago Today
June 24, 2013 By Terry Firma

The 24th of June in 1973 was a Sunday. For New Orleans’ gay community, it was the last day of national Pride Weekend, as well as the fourth anniversary of 1969′sStonewall uprising. You couldn’t really have an open celebration of those events — in ’73, anti-gay slurs, discrimination, and even violence were still as common as sin — but the revelers had few concerns. They had their own gathering spots in the sweltering city, places where people tended to leave them be, including a second-floor bar on the corner of Iberville and Chartres Street called the UpStairs Lounge.

That Sunday, dozens of members of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the nation’s first gay church, founded in Los Angeles in 1969, got together there for drinks and conversation. It seems to have been an amiable group. The atmosphere was welcoming enough that two gay brothers, Eddie and Jim Warren, even brought their mom, Inez, and proudly introduced her to the other patrons. Beer flowed. Laughter filled the room.

upstairs1

Just before 8:00 p.m., the doorbell rang insistently. To answer it, you had to unlock a steel door that opened onto a flight of stairs leading down to the ground floor. BartenderBuddy Rasmussen, expecting a taxi driver, asked his friend Luther Boggs to let the man in. Perhaps Boggs, after he pulled the door open, had just enough time to smell the Ronsonol lighter fluid that the attacker of the UpStairs Lounge had sprayed on the steps. In the next instant, he found himself in unimaginable pain as the fireball exploded, pushing upward and into the bar.

The ensuing 15 minutes were the most horrific that any of the 65 or so customers had ever endured — full of flames, smoke, panic, breaking glass, and screams.

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