The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs faster than death.Socrates
Basic with little extra, postings are at an all-time low due to eye problems. I can't focus a screen for more then a few minutes at a time for now. Fingers crossed, these eye issues should be solved in the next 10-14 days.
Socrates's alleged last words are riddled with ambiguity. Did he really say the words? Are they Plato's spinnings? Or are they the internet claiming in vain? Regardless, I find it fitting for today's post.
The unrighteousness that child sexual abuse is surely runs faster then death. It symbolises death before actual death.
We know up to 90% of present day child sexual abuse happens in the family sphere. While our attention and energy goes to combatting the other 10% (such as online child sexual abuse material, the church, sportsclubs, schools, etc) our attention gets deflected away from the pressing need to do something about the 90%.
Is attention to the past likewise contributing to shadow much needed attention to present day situations?
attention to the church
I've discussed the historical interest the church is generating.
Since, I find myself falling off my chair regularly. I never thought in my lifetime I would hear in the context of child sexual abuse things like:
“Jesus has had to clean up the temple before he could proceed.” “If the church would really mean to mend, they would actively search for victims.”
While very correct, the church is not alone. I would in a universal way say:
“Society has to clean up its mess before it can proceed.” “If society would really mean to mend, people would actively search for victims, and impose for justice to swiftly act on each and every claim.”
The church is asking for recognition for its claimed efforts. It is not alone in its claims. The justice system is asking for recognising its claimed advances. Victim supporting organisations and authorities are screaming for recognition claiming they do everything they can.
I can confirm one thing from personal experience: in all three above mentioned positions all do everything they can to keep blemish away from the authority of their position.
the family sphere
Hailed for its literary quality, it has been named for, and obtained, various prizes. It fuels attention back to the subject of child sexual abuse in the family sphere. And that is a good thing.
We owe it to people like Neige and the recent documentary by Emmanuelle Béart called “Un silence si bruyant“ (a silence so loud) to step forward in the public sphere to keep denouncing the heinousness of child sexual abuse.
They raise awareness child sexual abuse has no name, no gender, no … and it happened everywhere.
But all these stories speak of the past, by adults recasting their memories of their child hardship. They get attention because they are adults speaking from past childhood personal experience, not because they are children currently enduring it.
It is less hurtful to the masses. It is less hurtful to look in the eye a now adult victim who we see as having triumphed, than look in the eye a child victim still undergoing the abuse. When you see Laetitia and Sabine come out of the cellar (I'm not sharing a link, plenty online), or see Sabine present her book many years later, it does not generate the same level of revolt.
And I think this acknowledgement, in addition to having to relive their childhood and lifelong hardship, may be part of the reason they refuse to participate in the once more telling of their stories.
In listening to these by adults to adults told stories, aren't we shying away attention from present-day children who currently undergo child sexual abuse? Have you ever heard a child speak of child sexual abuse?
art as the heinousness softener
Art is used to soften society's harshest angles, to render it discussable, for others.
Neige wholeheartedly admits:
I wanted to believe it, I wanted to dream that the kingdom of literature would welcome me like any of the orphans who find refuge there, but even through art, you can't emerge victorious from abjection. Literature didn't save me. I am not saved. (J’ai voulu y croire, j’ai voulu rêver que le royaume de la littérature m’accueillerait comme n’importe lequel des orphelins qui y trouvent refuge, mais même à travers l’art, on ne peut pas sortir vainqueur de l’abjection. La littérature ne m’a pas sauvée. Je ne suis pas sauvée.)
While it is seldomly expressly outspoken in public, it is outspoken by most victims of child sexual abuse. Nothing ever takes it away. It is like a parent facing the death of a child, only the child here is one's childhood, one's livelihood building blocks.
In softening for the masses, art is a two way cutting sword, of which the pendulum movement slings back and forth.
Think of Gabriel Matzneff who stood up for his literary works and pedophelia from the predator's perspective, and the art community standing with him arguing his acts are not vile crimes bur works or art.
Jean-Marc Sauvé rightly describes child sexual abuse as acts of death, and while true the twisted may find in death artistic qualities, I do not share this artistic streak of madness.
Matzneff went free, how on earth can society allow for such to be possible? I've only used him as a scapegoat figure. There are many artists who fall in the same wrongdoer in the name of art category.
the harsh reality
These examples make me think of how hard it is to deal with villainy perpetrated by esteemed heroes in their field through acceptability syndromes. Beliefs, being it art, the church, the law, … used to render acceptable what fundamentally is not.
There are so many forms, all related to belief, credibility, systems.
While Shannon Alder rightly says:
Accomplishments don’t erase shame, hatred, cruelty, silence, ignorance, discrimination, low self-esteem or immorality. It covers it up, with a creative version of pride and ego. Only restitution, forgiving yourself and others, compassion, repentance and living with dignity will ever erase the past.”
Nothing will ever turn back time. What happened, happened. No apology will ever repair, no money will ever alleviate. It is done. And I disagree with Shannon, the being subjected as a child to sexual violence never erases in fact, only in mental capacity.
A Cambodian killing fields survivor said:
Reconciliation is not about talking to each other, it is about the responsibility and obligation of each of the victims to put all the pieces back together.
I find reconciliation in the face of child sexual abuse wrongdoers is a concept which maintains, justifies, our societies' to look the other way faced with child sexual abuse. (I do not limit wrongdoing to perpetrators but extend it to all those in the knowledge who look the other way)
It confirms the grim, but real, picture. As victims, in the end, we still stand alone.
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. This blog gets the proverbial pants on!
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