The options before usWE CAN DO THIS ONE PERSON ATA TIME, OR ALL OF US AT ONCE
We can do this one person at a time — undertaking humanity’s huge course correction by pointing singularly to every allegedly offending individual we can find, bringing that person down with career-ending and life-ruining accusations — or we can do it en masse by just admitting that our species has been divided into the Oppressors and the Oppressed for thousands of years. We can confess that we have been getting it all wrong all along.
We have a problem on this planet that transcends the current outrage over sexual assault, harassment, and misbehavior — as legitimate and important a development as that is. (And it is.) Yet we should not allow our outrage and our social course correction to stop there.
We can continue by acknowledging that it is not just women who deserve to be placed on the Finally Being Believed List. People of color, citizens with special needs, persons who identify as gay, members of particular religions, people who are poor, those who are homeless, and more than one or two other subgroups within our society have also been begging to be heard and crying out for justice for a very long time.
The problem here is systemic. The problem is cultural. The problem is massive and widespread in areas sexual, social, racial, political, economical, and spiritual, and it will not be solved by asking those few who actually get caught (or who are alleged to have gotten caught) to alone pay the price for the ongoing, centuries-long dysfunctions of an entire species called humankind. And before that statement is mis-characterized, this is not a call to excuse any specific behaviors – sexual misconduct or others – but just the opposite. We must all pay the price, because humankind has NOT been kind, but has been behaving like barbarians. We must pay the price beginning now, by increasing the cost, at once and all across human society, to people and groups who would oppress other people and groups ever again. And I believe we would do well to see if we can find a way to forgive those who have offended, to look within our hearts to see if there is a place of compassion and mercy sufficient to allow us not to overlook their offenses, but to overcome them, even as we have allowed many of the very worst among us to be pardoned, and to attempt to reclaim their lives and make things right with their Soul and their God (if they believe in either).
The truth is, members of our entire species have never stopped oppressing each other. We’ve never allowed ourselves as a species to experience “power with” – only “power over.” THIS has been the blind spot of humanity. This has been the weakness of our civilization. This has been the core issue from the beginning. And until we resolve this issue, there will always be the Oppressors and the Oppressed.