As expected, I had some negative responses from my last blog
Even this response only scratches the surface of the issue. I hope that at least I'm inspiring thought and a challenge to actually live our ideals.
Some people challenged me (rightly so) on my idealism, lack of practical application, not understanding love and promoting "wishy washy lets just love and everything will be ok" philosophy. So understanding love is rather important!
Everyone thinks they know basically what love is all about. I used to have it nicely defined, especially from my christian background, but now I see it as something foundational to the nature of all that "is", far bigger and more impacting than we ever imagined. It's not just an option, but utterly essential to the survival and future growth of humanity.
Many people have some point at which they say something is unforgivable, particularly with abuse and rape. This is a very valid position to hold when we consider the long term implications that many have suffered - the devastation on so many lives and families. Exercising any form of love beyond immediate self care is often inconceivable.
But here's the bigger picture.
Do we want humanity to grow? Do we want to see people with that need to abuse even becoming an issue in the first place? Do we want to the world to be a "nicer" place? Rhetorical questions I'm sure! But how do we do that? By making the gigantic, emotionally taxing, intellectually challenging step of understanding the nature of love and actually living it.
Punishment does not work - ever - for anything. Thousands of years of history show this. Yes it will stop people out of fear, but it never changes the heart. You catch someone who abuses, lock them up as punishment, declare them evil scum, and hope they throw away the key. It solves the immediate problem of getting that person out of society so they can't re-offend, but does nothing for the victim or the abuser.
The victim may get a certain sense of justice, but it's not the thing that brings healing. It certainly doesn't heal the abuser, after all, abuse is about power and control, and locking them up only frustrates and represses that need, potentially making them even worse. Again, this works on one level because they are out of the way in prison, but if they get out, they re-offend, just as needy for power and control as ever.
Working with the abuser in love, with love, for love, means setting strong boundaries and creating a safe environment for others and themselves. It means confronting them with the consequences of the actions. It means working with them through their own need for control, their lack of self respect/self love, their insecurities that drive them to abuse. It means looking at everything that drives them to become abusive.
Punishment is the most negative and damaging things humans can do to each other. But think carefully about that before you react. When you have been punished for something what did you learn? You learnt fear. You stopped what you were doing, but it didn't make you a better person. It brought a redirection of behaviour through fear and more often than not repressed the cause of the behaviour you were punished for. For many it just means they put more effort into not being caught! This is at the core of punitive justice in every form at every level of our lives.
So, you do something wrong, and instead of being punished, you are shown the effects and consequences of what you did. You are made aware of the ongoing implications and damage to others etc. You are embraced and not shamed for your actions but gently and firmly held responsible for them. You are shown respect and dignity for your humanity. You are loved, without conditions, drawn into a level of empathy that heals.
Yes, for many that will be a long hard and frustrating journey, and it may seem inconceivable that we should take that much effort for many abusers. The justice system, the prison system, the mental health system and social work system simply isn't set up to do this. They aren't trained or resourced to even consider this. They have to work within the parameters that are dictated by society/government etc. So yeah, I'm talking about an ideal in the current social systems we have.
What do we do? The only thing we can - we change ourselves!
We look at our own hearts, we look at how much we love ourselves, our own sense of self worth, and begin there. We dig deep with compassion and empathy towards ourselves until we find peace within us that needs no outside support.
Then we do the same for those around us. We begin to "live loved". We can't change the world by tomorrow, but we CAN change ourselves, starting now.
So back to the original post...
Do you want change or "justice"?
Do you want freedom or revenge?
Do you want to to see the world grow in love and life?
or continue in judgement, bitterness and cynicism?
No one ever "deserves" fear and hate.
And for the victims? Asking them to work through the process of forgiveness is a very big
ask indeed, and yet, it's the only thing that will bring them life
again. My heart aches every time I hear of the suffering of abuse victims, and I will do all I can to love and support anyone, but deep down we know that real life can only comes from that place when love is allowed to bring forgiveness.
But like I said, this hardly scratches the surface. We must stand together, in love, for love, to change this world!!