Judge Kavanaugh. Dr. Ford. Allegations. Denials.
It’s a smear campaign.
It’s a soap opera. It’s the Republican’s fault. The Democrats should be ashamed.
He’s a good man. No, he’s not!
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She’s a good woman. No, she’s not!
We are riveted to the news. We are repulsed by every new truth. Or we shout that there are no truths, but merely tall tales, witch hunts, character assassination.
One thing I already knew, but have sensed again as we rumble and tumble through this battleground of accusations and alleged events: We are all living in a whirlwind, a never-ending tornado fed by two of the deepest wounds in our society. I write these words before the vote (or lack of vote) on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. The wounds will remain and fester, regardless of the outcome.
The first wound is highlighted, but not limited to, the #metoo movement.
For the first time in my lifetime, we are talking seriously about how women have been profoundly, systematically victimized. I’m guilty of it. I have viewed women as objects. As a minister, I have also sat beside church members, recently raped or molested, who felt a million anguished feelings that she should never have to feel. We have too often said “boys will be boys.” We have silently or blatantly accused women of wearing the “bad” or “wrong” outfit and it’s their fault.
I’ve recently read several powerful essays by women who were raped and how it silently, privately, completely changed their world, even as they made their lives better and stronger and became wondrously beautiful people . . . but still wounded. Padma Lakshmi (who I enjoy so much on television’s “Top Chef”), wrote an op-ed in The New York Times about being raped at 16. She said, “Some say a man shouldn’t pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager. But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people who love her.”
My lovely wife has never had a terrible thing happen to her, but can tell stories of cruel and petty and inappropriate sexual things said to her over the years. Men don’t understand. We don’t. Not in this culture. Not with the history our culture has. We living in a magnificent country, but it wasn’t until a handful of years before my mother’s birth that women could vote. There still is, without a doubt, a glass ceiling.
These last weeks have exposed this wound. This is not a scam by the Democrats. This is not the Republicans getting what they deserved. This is us.
A second storm rages, another wound continues to bleed. We have become tribes. Adversaries. I’m saying nothing new. Others have done a better job in describing our tribalism. Our divisions sicken and sadden me. And I know I contribute to it. But, in truth, I can’t stand Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or a Fox & Friends or all those others who are well-paid people pedaling hate and fear. Except there are those who would say the same about others I admire. . . that a Rachel Maddow is a prattling fool or that mainstream media like the Washington Post is fake news. We glare and spew hate. We claim there are no facts if we don’t like the facts. We don’t question things, we don’t debate, we don’t dialog . . . we simply don’t listen anymore. We are individual castles with well-tended moats. I am guilty of deepening my moat. Isn’t it easier for me to raise my voice, or find a clever insult, rather than to listen to another with differing views and learn about their pains or fears or hopes or dreams?
The wounds tear us apart. The whirlwind expands.
Women are still being belittled. Ask your wife. Your girlfriend. Your sister. Men are victimized, too, but our terrible history of women as (at best) second-class citizens is blatantly obvious.
Once, many of the Supreme Court nominees were voted into their position by voice vote in the Senate. Now? One tribe or another intentionally choosing nominees based on political preference. Then there’s nonstop warfare. And everyone becomes a casualty.
I have no answers. Only anguish.
Larry Patten is a retired United Methodist pastor. A longtime Fresno resident, Patten currently works at a local hospice. He maintains the websites www.larrypatten.com and www.hospice-matters.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.