U.S. CULTURE TODAY, ANY OTHER CULTURE TOMORROW
Thomas – Hill. Kavanaugh – Ford. Republicans – Democrats. Men – Women.
And more …
This isn’t just a Supreme Court nomination. Most people realize that.
This isn’t just a political conflict. Many people realize that.
This isn’t just the fight of many women and some men to end misogyny and bring about healthy, respectful, human, heartful treatment of women by men. Many more people are realizing that.
And this isn’t just the insistence that women who were sexually abused be heard, believed and not blamed. Some are coming to that.
More are coming to that.
If you open your eyes more …
if you open your ears more …
if you open your mind more …
if you open your heart more …
you will know …
this is a window to the soul of our culture.
A window that has been closed and locked.
A window that has been boarded up –
as if to keep a storm in the outer world from blowing it in.
But truly, it has been boarded up to keep what is inside
hidden on the inside, kept secret, and buried deep within.
This window is now being blown from the inside out.
This is a window to the soul of our culture.
Where we have been hiding the trauma that lives deep within our culture.
Where we have built on top of that trauma layers and layers of defenses.
Where we have been hiding the trauma that lives –
not only in our government and government processes;
not only in our businesses and their day-to-day transactions;
not only in our religious organizations and houses of worship;
not only in our institutions of learning and their daily activities;
but also where we have been hiding the trauma that lives in our everyday families in our everyday homes –
where our children are born, live, and develop in trauma.
To an eye and a heart of someone who works with men and women who have been abused, neglected, and sexually abused as children, this whole process of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and hearings, is a clear out-picturing of what goes on in a family in our country where one or more of the children have been sexually abused by an ”authority” in the family, and where even one of those children tries to tell the truth.
Tell the truth about having been sexually abused? Almost never as a child. Too scary. Too dangerous. But even as an adult … the family authority and very often the whole family – even extended family – circles the wagons to protect the abuser. That occurs in many ways. Two of the strongest are to enlist everyone to not believe the one who has been abused and to blame the abused one for what has happened. The child – now adult – victim of the sexual abuse is attacked, scapegoated, eliminated from the family. Or there may be a fight within the family, with some supporting and some attacking the person who was hurt. Often in either case the truth-teller is accused of having “ruined the family.”
To the eye and heart of someone who has for decades worked with the early trauma of men and women, I can see how that trauma is out-pictured in their own lives. And I can see how that trauma is out-pictured in the life of our country and our world. In the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, I could see the early trauma of many of those who spoke. Some might not have seen angry outbursts and defenses as signs of early trauma. They might cover the real explanations and understandings with justifications and normalizations. But I know what I saw. And I saw the trauma beneath the boarded-up windows and doors.
The steps that have been taken to listen with respect to Dr. Ford and others who have been sexually abused … are, indeed, important steps. But they are not enough. They are not nearly enough.
We need to see the trauma that is showing itself in this process …
the trauma to Dr. Ford and any others sexually abused by the nominee.
the trauma to others who have come forth and may come forth about the sexual assaults they have experienced.
the traumas to children in our country who experience sexual assault –
and other assaults – every day in their homes.
And the trauma to the others in the picture.
The trauma to those who witness the assaults.
The trauma to those who react to the assaults.
The trauma to the family in which the assaults originally happen.
The trauma to those who commit the assaults.
For although some of us may wish to blame the abuser …
that person also has been traumatized in his/her life at some point
in development …
or the assaults would not have been committed by that person.
If we do not look at the trauma that is out-picturing itself in this process…
if we do not see the trauma that is out-picturing itself in this process …
if we do not hear the trauma that is out-picturing itself in this process …
if we do not feel the trauma palpable in this out-picturing that is occurring in the
context of our government …
we ourselves will help to continue such out-picturings,
while believing they are something else.
And we ourselves will help to continue such out-picturings,
while being unaware of our complicity.
This article describes just the tip of the iceberg of the depth exploration revealed In my recent book – How Did We Get Here?* – on the heart of where we are in the life of our nation and our world, and what is here for us to see and heal in our country … and in countries all over the world. The relationship between trauma and accountability is woven throughout the book.
© Judith Barr, 2018.
*Barr, Judith. How Did We Get Here? (Brookfield, CT: Mysteries of Life, 2018). Available through Amazon or JudithBarr.com.