The mantras out of Hollywood these days seems to be, “We all knew…” and “Me too…” The intent is to demonize anyone who is accused of sexual misconduct by giving accusers support for their claims years…even decades…after an alleged event. Some accusations are very real and the aggressors need to be called out and held accountable.
I maintain that there are others who are accountable, although it’s not politically correct to call them out as well. I expect my opinion will enrage some, yet I am convinced we must honestly look at our ethical responsibilities in regard to knowing…and doing nothing.
Am I the only one who finds it amazing that there are those who have achieved status on the film industry star list who are just now claiming to have been abused as they made their way to the top? These are women who claim abuse when they were young and unknown, but chose to keep it quiet until recent events made it a popular choice to speak up about their experiences and rage under the hashtag of “me too”.
Today a newsfeed told the story of male actor who claims abuse in the LGBTQ community…an abuse that occurred over 3 decades ago. The accused has no recollection of the situation, yet chose to apologize for the pain his accuser has carried for so many years. Outspoken members of this community have cried out in support of this young man with the claim, “We all knew.”
Really??? “We all knew!” The next logical statement is, “and we did nothing”.
This is how depravity continues. How can we justify experiencing something and saying nothing to preserve a career? How do we know of the abuse of a teen…a child…and say nothing? Personally, I can’t get over the inherent arrogance and self-righteousness of someone who purports indignation after an atrocity, or alleged atrocity, is made public. Where is the honor in that?
Let me explain further. I understand that we keep some situations hidden in our hearts because they are too painful to share. I also get that as we progress through the years following our horror that we choose not to open the wound by talking about it. Yet, even though we long for our experience to remain private, we have an overwhelming responsibility to those who come behind us to protect them from what we have experienced.
Who among us would allow a daughter or son to spend one-on-one time with a relative who abused us? Or with a teacher, coach or priest who tore away our innocence? We would move mountains to protect our own from the pain we carry day in and day out.
What keeps a well known actor or actress from speaking up? As we give to the future, are we not also responsible for the protection of those who come behind us? It’s more than adopting orphans from impoverished nations, speaking out on gun control or paying lip service to equal rights for women, minorities, and marriage rights. When push comes to shove, we must also find our voices when “we all knew” something wasn’t right or when we cry out “me too” after hearing about a shared experience of sexual exploitation at the hands of someone in a powerful position.
Is it easy to speak up? Absolutely not! But, no one promised us living life as an ethical, compassionate, loving human being would be easy. God calls us to step into history. We think of Isaiah and Samuel with their hesitant, but definite, “Here I am…” Where is our response to those in need? Will it only come when it’s comfortable to say “Me too”? Or will we step boldly into history, leading the cry that resonates in and through our culture to change those things that are wrong? Will we be the one that steps out in faith…and fear…to challenge the powerful?
Or will we remain quiet to evil and wrong while untold numbers of others face our fate simply because to speak up might change the course of our own, personal history?
We are not called to save ourselves. We are called to love God and love our neighbor. We also know that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another. That doesn’t always mean we need to die for another. Sometimes it simply means that we step out of our own life dreams long enough to deliver another or others from a devastating situation. It only makes sense that if we know something or someone is abusive, we must speak out so that our story never becomes someone else’s story…even if it means not getting that next big movie or television contract.
So, my message to the indignant Hollywood types who are busy hashtagging and saying, “We all knew…”, well, you knew and did nothing. Where is the honor in that?
For the rest of us, we need to consciously see where we are called to change a distorted historical trajectory by responding, “Here I am…” to God’s plea of “Whom shall I send?”