My new friend Eleanor found my blog because of her studies of the Wounded Healer motif. She has come and commented here and was surprised by the reaction of one of my regulars, an old friend, Jane.
Since I value the wisdom of both women, the natural thing for me to do is to reevaluate my own position and make sense of what each is saying. Because both make sense even though they appear to contradict at face value.
Eleanor has written a review on Amazon for a book she likes by Andrew Harvey. You can read it here:
When you click onto the main page of this book the first review there is by a Brad Laughlin. The third paragraph into the review tells a story of a elderly black woman from South Africa. During Apartheid she witnessed the brutal murder of her husband and son by a white police officer. When this officer was being brought to justice, She hugged him as she was being led across the courtroom. The man fainted.
This is used as an example of sacred activism. It is a touching and powerful story, but I am compelled to point out something about it.
The reason this woman's act of forgiveness is so powerful and profound is because it took place when she was in the position of Strength and Safety. In that courtroom there was no chance that the former police officer could hurt her without serious repercussions. The man was caught, imprisoned, and being brought to justice. He could no longer control her, oppress her, or intimidate her in anyway. Granted, she suffered great loss, trauma, and grief. But this man could, in no way, continue his evil against her.
He was in the weak position. And she was in the strong position.
Yet she didn't use her strong position against him.
It is a very different circumstance from a situation where a victim is still being victimized and she kisses the feet of her oppressor because that is the only way to survive.
There is no power in that. None. Just more oppression and destroying of her spirit, soul, and body.
Now I understand that people like author Andrew Harvey and reviewer Brad Laughlin assume that these powerful actions of forgiveness come from a place of strength and safety. But to those still in the place of oppression and abuse, their words sound like further abuse. To those who have never had a position of strength and safety all it sounds like is letting the oppressor free to continue to oppress at will.
So how do those still in positions of oppression and abuse get out? Some are able to flee on their own to places of safety. But many of those that are able to flee don't know that they are able because of the mind control and indoctrination. And many who are trapped have no way of escape on their own at all. Those being trafficked come to mind. And my friend Jane has a heart for those.
So what do we expect of those still trapped?
Do we expect them to embrace their abusers who are still abusing them?
Absolutely not. That is just plain sick and smells like Stockholm Syndrome.
If people are trapped, how can we expect them to do anything except to survive until they are rescued?
But the real question is, what obligation do we have to the trapped, oppressed, and abused?
We are obligated to sound the alarm and to speak up for those who have no voice. We are to look for ways to rescue the downtrodden and find ways to stop the oppressor from oppressing and bring him to justice. Because only when he is brought to justice and to a place of weakness where he is no longer in control, only then will the forgiveness of those he oppressed have a chance to mean anything.
Remember the priest who was beaten by the man molested by him as a boy. That priest was never brought to justice. So there was never a real chance for him to face his sin and be forgiven. The Catholic Church protected him. And in so doing, robbed him of his chance for any redemption of any value.