“Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”*

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) knows something her mostly male counterparts don’t – when a woman steps forward and gives voice to her sexual assault/rape, usually more women will follow.

Not because they are engaged in some vast “left wing conspiracy.”

But because truth begets truth.  And courage, once displayed by one woman willing to talk about the darkness that haunts her, is contagious.

That is precisely why the #MeToo movement has not been a faddish flash in the pan.  More than half the population of this country is made up of women.  They either have been assaulted, or likely know someone who has been.

The statistic I have read in my news feed is 1 in 4 women experience a sexual assault of some sort. That is a spectrum that runs from a grope in passing by someone with a sexual fetish to gang rape or worse.

In a country of more than 329 million people, more than 50% (about 167 million) are female. That means more than 41,750,000 women have been sexually victimized somehow, someway.

Again, if you round that up, 42 MILLION FEMALES have been sexually misused.

And that doesn’t begin to take into the account the nasty things men say they WANT to do to our bodies.

Yet eleven white men on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Majority Leader and the President don’t seem to believe these women are credible in their allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

I am sorry Chuck Grassley(R-LA);  Orrin Hatch (R-UT); Lindsey Graham (R-SC); John Cornyn (R-TX); Mike Lee (R-UT); Ted Cruz (R-TX); Ben Sasse (R-NE); Jeff Flake ( R-AZ); Mike Crapo (R-ID); Thom Tillis ( R-NC); John Kennedy (R-LA); Mitch McConnell ( R-TN) and Donald J. Trump (R-NY):  the statistics aren’t with you.

Neither are the reams of anecdotal evidence that could be produced on the subject.

And the truth? Who knows since you won’t let the FBI investigate or other witnesses testify?

Meanwhile Hatch, Graham, McConnell and Trump in particular have done everything they can to discredit Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the first accuser, to portray her as some confused woman to an out-right liar for political purposes.

The accounts of who SHE has been throughout HER life don’t tally with those characterizations.

But Kavanaugh’s life seems to be the only one these 11 white men of the Judiciary, the Senate Majority Leader, and the POTUS, are concerned with.  Not because they genuinely care about Kavanaugh as a person – but because the political stakes on this nomination to the Supreme Court are the highest they have ever been.

And because they are governed by their own political machinations, they ascribe their motives to these women when neither statistics nor case study nor possibly even an investigation would bear this out.

To not slow down, to not investigate, to not interview contemporaries is as devastating for Kavanaugh, if not more so, than for Dr. Blasey Ford.  She will go back home to her family, her job, her surfing and eventually have a normal life.  Kavanaugh will have a permanent asterisk next to his name.

As for the 167 million of us who are FEMALE, who have been or could become victims of sexual assault, we don’t seem to count to these men at all.

Hopefully that will one day be their political doom.

photo of four girls wearing school uniform doing hand signs
Photo by 周 康 on Pexels.com

Statistically, one of these four girls will be sexually assaulted at some point in her life.  What if one of them was yours?

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*Quote attributed to Mark Twain

 

 

“God Bless Texas”

For the past couple of days, I have written about the looming issue of teen rape allegations that have been leveled against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Basley Ford.

It has roiled emotions in me that as a 65-year-old woman you wouldn’t think would still be so tender.

But I have always been a deeply reflective person, admittedly with a bit of the drama queen thrown in.  Hopefully it makes what I write a little more worth reading than it might otherwise be.

I just read a “Washington Post” article by a writer named Elizabeth Bruenig that I wish I could lay claim to – except she deserves every accolade she receives for having written it so beautifully.

It is the story of a teen rape that occurred in her high school and how justice was never obtained by the victim, even though she reported it in a timely manner.

But mostly it is about the cruelties of high school and small, insular communities and how people come angrily together in their denial to harm a victim even more.

And it is how the gentlest, most vulnerable among us are easy prey for hunters who can kill us with harmful acts and deadly lies as easily as if they shot us.

This story took me back to my own teen years and school experiences. As it takes place in Texas, it also makes me wonder about what one of my nieces may have experienced that has led her to a life outcome I desperately didn’t want for her.

Some things I know.  But a great deal I am sure I – or maybe anyone – know nothing about.

She doesn’t know how much I still love her and ache for her to turn her life around.  She doesn’t know this because we don’t speak any more.

That is on me.  Because there comes a point when you have held out your hand to help someone, and they continually slap it away, you just stop.  There comes a time when they do something that – while you can forgive it – you can’t stand by and quietly observe it any more.

Because maybe what they did hits a little too close to a raw childhood nerve that never heals. Even when you are 65-years-old.

Ours is a family dominated by a matriarch who was never my mother, not in a daily sense, as she didn’t raise me.

But her imprint was stamped on me at birth and repeatedly pointed out to me by the parents who did raise me, my grandfather and his second wife. Down to a “sneer” I didn’t know I possessed and a physical resemblance I am constantly told of by my sisters.

As I came to know her as an adult, we searched out the similarities in each other, from the exact same outfits hanging in our closets to our shared love of reading and doing crosswords.

Although I don’t think she graduated high school, as she was 16 when I was born, she was a smart cookie, my mother.

I am a smart cookie too. Except we both had terrible taste in men. In fact, except for my youngest sister, none of us has had much luck on that score.

It’s generational, it seems, touching my niece’s life in very dramatic ways.

Which is a round about way of getting back to the main issue. How, in a society supposedly as advanced as is our own, are women still prey and men the hunters?

What are the biological and psychological imperatives that drive that dynamic so that it cannot be educated out of us? Even at the “highest “ levels of our society?

If we are, indeed, created in God’s image, what does that make God? Why ever would the angels envy us, as my Catholic religion teaches, we creatures with one foot in the material and the other in the spiritual world?

No, I am not blaming God for our fallen choices.  Just for knowing in advance that we would make them. And knowing that his dying on the Cross to expiate their sin wouldn’t make living any less painful for us all.

I have always questioned what purgatory really means, if it really exists.  Perhaps this is it: knowing some of us are prey, and others hunters.

And screaming #MeToo doesn’t seem to change it very much at all.

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Déjà Vu

I have seen this movie before.

In fact, I have seen at least one of the cast of characters before – Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). He wasn’t very good in the role in 1991.  He was no better in it today.

His comments were tone-deaf and anti-female then. They were the same today, when he dared to postulate of a woman who claims Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her in high school that she was “mixed up.”

Because after all, Kavanaugh had grown to be such a man of sterling character and integrity today. Surely that mattered more than the nearly 30 years of memory she has harbored about the incident. At least, in Hatch’s opinion, Kavanaugh MUST be believed because, well, Hatch knows him so well.

But this woman – whom Hatch has NEVER met – she cannot be telling the truth.

Does Senator Hatch sincerely think a woman can be mixed up about nearly being raped. Sincerely?

Can he not imagine a drunk, 17-year-old boy trying to clumsily force himself upon a teenage girl at a bedroom at a party?  Can he not imagine a man being considered for a Supreme Court vacancy might want to vociferously deny it happened? Is it possible Kavanaugh seriously doesn’t remember himself and is the one who is “mixed up?”

I remember the excruciating detail of what Anita Hill had to say about Clarence Thomas in hours of televised hearings. I watched it all unfold. And because of my own professional experiences, I believed her.

I knew how I had been treated in the workplace by men just as professional as Thomas. I know what they said to me. I know what they said in lies about me.   I know what was said was not true.

That is why I believed Anita Hill. That is why I am sympathetic to Dr. Ford’s assertions about her experience with Brett Kavanaugh.

It is why I think Orrin Hatch is “mixed up.” It is why I think Kavanaugh is scared and not telling the truth.

Or he possibly was so drunk himself, he doesn’t remember that night.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if once, just once, the man said you’re right. I was drunk.  I was being a jerk.  I am so sorry I did that to you.  It is not who I am today.

He would be a judge worth voting for.

Brett Kavanaugh has already shown he is not that man.

art awareness campaign concrete
Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

90 Day Challenge: Third Interruption, Day 3

Senator John McCain’s funeral is one of those public, universal events of history I will always remember.

Just as, when I was a child, I remember watching JFK’s.  The way I remember the moment I learned of the deaths of MLK and RFK. Of Reagan being shot. The Challenger exploding.  The Twin Towers crumbling before my eyes.

All are historical, cultural and emotional touch points we commonly share.  All have shaped us someway in how we feel about either our country, ourselves, or both.

McCain’s funeral made me yearn for the functioning of the U.S. government in a way I don’t know we ever will again.

Not that we haven’t always been a country with great divides. But the bigger ideals on which we agreed managed to transcend them, even following a brutal, bloody civil war.

As a country, we were all finally able to agree that slavery of other human beings was morally bankrupt; that women were people with agency and the right to enfranchisement; that when the entire economy crashes, we can develop public programs that return us to prosperity.

We were able to band together to fight an evil that exterminated six million people because they were Jewish and overcome an imperialism that wanted to bomb us into pieces. In that unison, we went forward to continue fighting for civil freedoms for all citizens, an end to segregation, the grant of equal voting rights, a race to the moon and more.

We have reached for the stars and seen farther into space than we ever dreamed. We have traced our DNA ladder in microscopic manner to come up with ingenious treatments for once fatal disease.

But we have also seen greed, far-flung war in places where perhaps we should not have been, recession, failed housing markets and retirement outcomes poorer than we expected.  We still have homeless sleeping in our streets, and people trapped into paying for medical insurance that doesn’t begin to cover all of their need, especially in times of great ill-health.

Recently we have seen our country ban people based on their country of origin and separate asylum seeking families, confining children to cages as if they were animals in a zoo.

We have heard rhetoric from politicians more denigrating, mean-spirited and belittling  than it has ever been.  We have been failed by those holding the highest offices of government.

We have been cyber attacked by another sovereign country that would – in its deeply cynical governance – be pleased to see our own fail so that it can be more influential and significant in the world.

We have started being unkind to each other based on our political identification. With multiple social platforms, we have found increasingly vitriolic ways to do so.

Like McCain himself, our own country is both grand and flawed.

So it is up to each of us as citizens to acknowledge those flaws, work to overcome them, and help our country be grander still.

Because Meghan McCain was right today when she said America has always been great. Not perfect. But great.

And we have always been greatest when we work together to overcome our flaws.

white and red flag
Photo by Aaron Schwartz on Pexels.com

90 Day Challege: Interrupted, Day 2

Today was interrupted because I am a. still not feeling well because I am waiting on the delivery of the special antibiotic ordered by my dr Friday and b. because I needed to read a book on works of mercy for a class I was supposed to lead tonight.

The book offered little insight, as my parish is already very active in carrying out Matthew 25: 35-40 :  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’37Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’40i And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Laudate-New American RE Bible).

Only one person showed up for this last class: just as well, as I am not certain what I would have said about charitable works we are already engaged with.

I am sure I would have gone off on one of my jags about the concept of purgatory  again.  A convert for the past ten years, it is one of the few Traditions I have difficulty reconciling with my view of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.

If he suffered such agony to atone for my sins, why do I have to wait to be purified in some Middle Kingdom when I die to be made more perfect to meet God face to face?

Jesus’ sacrifice was already made perfect on my behalf.  It makes no sense to me that I should have to then shed my last vestiges of sin; did not his Crucifixion already do that? One death for all sin, for all time.

Otherwise, what was the point?

I have still not had a priest explain this satisfactorily to me.  Sometimes I get close to finding an answer I think I can live with, only to have to crumple it up and toss it in the wastebasket like a poem that starts out sounding beautiful but ultimately makes no sense.

I spent the rest of the day in a commiserating phone call with my next oldest sister (the joys and pains of home ownership); a phone call with another friend about plans to get together next weekend; and a couple of decades old movies I had seen only once before but still remembered “who did it” and “why.”

While doing the latter, I multi-tasked playing a board game puzzle where my score is now over a million points.  And I fed the cat. Many, many times.

Poor thing, it is not her fault.  Old age and kidney issues have made her appetite fickle.  Since she had “kitty dialysis” yesterday, her appetite was up today.  And she must have had her fill, for tonight she is abed and content on my lap, something she doesn’t do as much any more.

I no more want to think about her continuing decline than I want to think of purgatory.  And it isn’t just all dogs that go to heaven – cats, horses and other pets make it too, I am sure.  I don’t care what the Catechism says on the subject.  I subscribe to St. Francis of Assisi on such matters.

Oh yeah, I passed along Turnip 2020’s tweets to Donald Trump and other GOP leaders who have blocked the little red beet.  I am not sure why – Turnip 2020 seems clever and cute and not at all disrespectful.

My tweets have yet to be honored by Trump censorship.  Maybe I am using words that are too big.

As for Rudy Giuliani’s assertion to Chuck Todd today that “truth isn’t truth,” I refer him to Aldous Huxley:

”Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

Oh, and one more caution for him and his client from “Straight Up and Dirty” author Stephanie Klein: “Tell the truth, or someone will tell it for you.”

And a final thought all mine:

Omarosa. Has. Tapes.

Peace out and goodnight, moon,

light landscape sky sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.comGod

 

 

90 Day Challenge: Day 11-Counsel

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

As I have matured in my Catholic faith these past ten years, the Bible and the Catechism have opened themselves up to me in new ways, giving good counsel to my soul.

And then there is always that moment of “gut hunch,” where you don’t know how you know something is true, you just do.

This is also known as conviction of the Spirit.

So with all this good counsel and spiritual reassurance, why do I still sometimes choose to do and say the stupidest things? Trust people who do not care a whit about my well-being?

It’s not that I am dumb.  I did make MENSA. Barely. Though I am no longer a dues paying member.

See, I didn’t have to tell you that, did I?

But I have always been a person of full disclosure, for good or ill.  The ill generally tends to fall on me.

I know that “keeping one’s own counsel” is generally thought to be a good thing.  And wherein self-interest is of prime concern, it is likely a truism.

But keeping one’s spiritual beliefs to oneself is not something Jesus called on us to do. In fact, he commissioned the Apostles – and by extension us as disciples – to spread the Good News throughout the ends of the earth.

It is called evangelization.  And it is counsel we should be willing to provide to any who will listen, a willingness to share the fullness of our faith so that others may have hope and believe.

Most Catholics I have met say “I could never do that.”

Perhaps because with over 2,000 years of history, tradition (little t), Tradition (big T), doctrine and dogma, Catholicism is not easy to distill.

I spent nearly a year of study and had to be deemed to have adequate discernment of the faith before I was confirmed in the Church.  Before I could fully participate in the Mass by partaking of the Eucharist. Before I could say “I am Catholic.”

It has taken nearly another nine to feel fully so, and still I learn something new daily about the Church and my faith.

But that shouldn’t keep me from speaking to all who will listen about it, especially in this moment of history St. Pope John Paul II called a time of unprecedented mercy that God wishes to bestow upon us.

Our opportunity to do so may be limited.

Don’t know what to say? Don’t worry.  The Bible has good counsel for that, too:

“You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10:19-20)

 

90 Day Challenge: Day 9 – Wisdom

“Dost thou hold wisdom to be anything other than truth, wherein we behold and embrace the supreme good?” -St. Augustine

If wisdom is indeed analogous to truth, then this morning I had a big dose of it.  It did not come from the regimen of  prayer, Biblical or devotional reading to which I have committed for these three months.

Rather it was from a podcast in the Laudate app called “Heart of Mary.” The topics are not always overtly Marian, but the sign-off is always the same: “To Jesus, through Mary.”

For my non-Catholic friends a brief explanation: this particular phrase explains Catholic devotion to Mary.  It is not that our relationship to Jesus isn’t personal and direct – it is.

Rather, by modeling ourselves after Mary’s virtues and seeking a relationship with him that approaches her ways, our hearts can become that much more united to his.

She is the example of the perfect Christian, the Mother of God made man and – as brothers and sisters in Christ – she is therefore our spiritual Mother as well.

Back to the podcast.  I was catching up the past few days and it was yesterday’s that sparked a recognition of truth about myself.

The subject was the Ten  Commandments, most particularly  the First Commandment regarding idolatry:

“I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3)

It suddenly hit me that of all the things in my life that I sometimes let take precedence over my relationship with God, romantic love is my greatest idol.

Since my teen years, I have been obsessed with the idea of finding that one person with whom I will perfectly fit so that I am somehow made “whole.”

Except because we live in a broken world, that idol can be worshiped, but it is idling away time to do so.  While Eve was created to “fit” Adam perfectly, that perfection was broken when Original Sin entered the scene.

So many of us pine to find that special “someone” whose presence will be our surety against the buffets of life’s storms.

Yet I know from my first broken marriage, no human person can ever fulfill that worshipful fantasy.

Recently I had come to the conclusion that because I had a new understanding of the sacramental meaning of marriage and its reflection of Trinitarian love, I was developing a relationship with someone who better fulfilled a Catholic definition for the coming together of two lives.

But truth can’t be built on a false predicate.  And I will never enjoy a sacramental marriage as long as I put finding a partner before continuing to seek God in all things.

I am an idolator in this and perhaps other ways I have not yet recognized.  We all have idols of one sort or another. We just need to be truthful and confess them to ourselves and to God.

But with God’s grace, I pray someday to always seek his kingdom first.

To Jesus through Mary.