What experience and history teach is this – that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

I find Hegel's quote to epitomise this week's repetition of history in its ugliest form.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher in the 19th century whose work tried to resolve the duality between mind and body, arguing reason and freedom are not givens but achievements.

In “Lectures on the Philosophy of World History” (Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Weltgeschichte) Hegel said:

Was die Erfahrung aber und die Geschichte lehren, ist dieses, daß Völker und Regierungen niemals etwas aus der Geschichte gelernt und nach Lehren, die aus derselben zu ziehen gewesen wären, gehandelt haben.

Translation by
Deepl But what experience and history teach us is that peoples and governments have never learned anything from history and acted on the lessons that could have been learned from it.
typically used What experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.
Hugh Barr Nisbet, 1975 What experience and history teach is this – that nations and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted upon any lessons they might have drawn from it.

a public scapegoat for authorities and carers to obtain public support for what they want

On August 24th the ball started rolling when Sven Pichal, a famous and publicly engaged Belgian radio presenter, was arrested on alleged child sexual abuse material possession.

The public went form denial to being profoundly hurt. A trusted public figure, household brand who sits in our daily lives, applauded foster parent of twin boys for the last 8 years ... allegedly involved in the most heinous of crimes.

Is this possible?

Out come those who claim they've always known, those who claim they are not the slightest surprised, those who need a culprit for their blindness ... Would anyone take responsibility for their part in society's denial of the widespread problem of child sexual abuse?

No one talks about the foster children now that everyone deals with their betrayed public adoration. A whirlwind of collateral mushrooming ensues instead:

Sven being a public figure, he morphs into an excellent marketing toolkit for the justice and victim support systems. Feasting to profile themselves on how good they do their job and how serious they take child sexual abuse.

No one dares to talk about the thousands of cases which are never looked into because the public prosecutor decides (s)he doesn't care. No one dares to talk about the fact one in 4 people you know has been a victim during their childhood.

It is a dreamt of scapegoat the public can identify their disgust with. An isolated, unique, dissociated from reality case, lauding the idea of authorities performing splendid work, and society satisfyingly hip-hip-hurraying the unicorn child sexual abuser is off the streets.

The children? The silenced and never investigated cases? Don't speak!

While the finger pokes around in the wound of child sexual abuse having no gender nor status, in our vain attempt to remove the bullet, it happens all over again, from a different angle.

child sexual abuse in the church

Remember the white march?

I've mentioned in a few previous posts the 1996 public outcry demanding Belgian politicians, lawmakers and the justice system never again make mistakes in child kidnapping and child sexual abuse.

Belgium was devastated for the second time on June 24th 2010 when through Operatie Kelk (operation chalice) the Belgian justice system violated child sexual abuse testimony's in the ongoing investigation of the church.

On September 5th 2023 a documentary Godvergeten (translated as godforsaken, it is a flemish play of words on god and forgetting) on national television painfully highlights 13 years filled with thousands of pages and interventions, and nothing happened.

the wheel doesn't turn, it churns

27 years after the white march demanded authorities to “never again”, victims remain outcasted, under an artillery of excuses carefully crafted in the name of “justice”.

The main excuse used is statute of limitations. And the public, shoulder shrugging and head nodding, silences.

No one talks about the universal right to truth, the right of non recurrence and remediation. Top Belgian lawyers interviewed: all throw up their hands to the sky, much like a priest would do at mass celebration. They don't see how given the state of the law they could prosecute the church or church perpetrators.

The public vomiting of victims testimony's once again sheds light on how we are as societies. A temporary outcry, remembering these victims do exist, followed swiftly by our collective denial and unwillingness to tackle child sexual abuse.

Hegel to the rescue

As Hegel wrote in Phenomenology of Spirit, must we really risk our life to obtain freedom?

“It is solely by risking life that freedom is obtained”

What macabre line when put in light of child sexual abuse, don't you think? Yet he also wrote in the History of Philosophy

The courage of Truth, the belief in the power of the spirit, is the first condition of philosophical study.

The courage of truth and the belief in the power of the spirit are not only the first condition of philosophical study, but of the essence and survival of factual life.

Borrowing from Hegel one can draw a perpetually recurring circle of child sexual abuse.

Then and now, unless victims are deemed useful soldiers for public authorities image profiling, or soothe our need to get on with life the next morning, we're left to our own demises.

the wind of change is no change

When the children of tomorrow dream away, in the wind of change; Wind of Change by the Scorpions. Notice the door locking at the end ...

The perpetuation of miscarriages of justice in child sexual abuse cases makes for dreaming away for a wind of change. A dream to cherish, for history proves nothing will ever change. The stakes are so intolerably high our societies can not look the phenomenon in the eye as and for what it truly is. Nor deal appropriately with it.

nothing strengthens authority so much as silence, Leonardo da Vinci

To the lucky few who find it within themselves to dare break silence, it rests on us, dismissed victims, to take it upon our damaged and fragile self to shed light on the darkest and unwanted side of society. Outcasted, and alone.

I wish each and everyone of us victims in our own right finds the strength to climb up the painstaking north face. Keep poking our omerta fuelled world, so one day humankind acknowledges the most heinous act that child sexual abuse is, and truly enacts its non repetition.

As for Sven, just like the church, I bet these eyes in the storm will come to good marketing use for authorities, victim support organisations and lawyers in more ways then tolerable to unspoken victims.

Remember, whilst we busy ourselves talking about the church, VIP offenders, and the fabulousness of a profoundly broken down system, ... every minute of every day a child somewhere is sexually abused.

Find an edited version of this post also on HAVOCA's blog, Help Adult Victims Of Child Abuse

Tags: #fesip

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