These have been weeks that have been deeply disturbing for those of us who work for a world where intimidation and bullying does not prevail. These have been days in which we have had to see the worst side of human nature revealed in a conversation about the highest court of the land, an avenue which dispossessed people in our nation have relied on even when our popular opinion and lawmakers have not been ready to grant rights or erase inequities. Amid the many disturbing occurrences and conversations our nation has watched, especially in these last few days, the insistence of putting a woman who names herself as the victim of sexual abuse on the stand has been particularly painful. For many of us, this has been a disturbing spectacle, cast as it had been against a backdrop of white men who seem to exude impatience and disbelief. For those of us who have experienced abuse ourselves, it has been a debilitating week, pulling spirits and souls back into the despair and powerlessness experienced within personal histories.
This week we have learned some things that perhaps we did not want to learn again. That we must be ever vigilant against the powers that would resurrect old hierarchies and oppressions. That the effects of bullying and disrespect and disregard that have tapped our electoral politics have also crept into our judicial selection processes. And that we must continue to work for the safety of all and that we should be gentle with one another for we do not know who watches this week’s proceedings through the agonized lens of a victim. Those who are socialized as males in our society often face an additional burden of shame and pain if they have been the victims of abuse.
If this is your experience, please take extra care of yourself and do not feel you must hold your despair and pain alone. If you love someone who is struggling this week, be present and honor their experience and also take care of yourself. Do not give into messages of your unworthiness or the shaming and blaming of victims you have seen. If you need extra care, take it. And if you need to call in a legislator for their bullying tactics, claim your voice in your own name or in the name of someone you love. Most of all, treat your good selves with kindness.
May we bear witness together,
Rev. Leslie Takahashi