Thursday, January 24, 2013

Equality - Justice - Peace

I have been struggling to figure out what to write for a while now - since the end of December, in fact. Every time I sit down to sort out my feelings I end up furious and I slam my computer shut. If I'm alone, I cry, or yell, or kick my desk, or punch my pillow. Sometimes I meditate or pray; sometimes I just try to do something else until I calm down. I've been avoiding my own anger. Maybe it's time to stop.

Here's why I'm angry: Jyoti Singh Pandey.

Do you know her name? If you don't, you should. Maybe you know her as India's Daughter. Or maybe you know her as that girl who was gang raped on the bus in India, and who died of her injuries two weeks later. Or maybe you don't know who in the world she is, or why anyone would be angry about her.

I have a confession to make - I'm not just angry about Jyoti Singh Pandey. I am angry about Steubenville, Ohio. I am angry about Savannah Dietrich. I am angry about New Mexico's House Bill 206. I am angry about the Violence Against Women Act of 2012 which was stalled when Republicans balked at protecting Native American women, immigrants, and the LGBT community from violence.

I am angry for my friends who have been abused and harmed. I am angry for the women and men who are pressured by society not to come forward after they have been raped. I am angry for the soldiers who are shamed by their leaders and comrades after being raped or assaulted. I am angry for the children who suffer in silence because they are afraid to tell someone that they are being hurt by a family member or friend. I am angry for the LGBT people who have been viewed as prey and who are attacked simply because they have different expressions of gender or orientation. I am angry for myself, and angry at the people who decided it was fair and just for them to take what they wanted from me with no thought about the damage they did to my psyche and my soul.

For the past month, I've been trying to find a way to constructively deal with my anger. I have signed petitions, worked to raise awareness, and participated in two magazine interviews on the subject of sexual violence and the rape-friendly culture we live in. I have meditated, read books on healing, shame, and vulnerability. I have prayed endless prayers, asking God to change our world. Asking God why people are so cruel. Asking God how he can allow these things to happen. I have prayed that God would take away my anger.

I wanted peace. I wanted resolution. Instead, my rage grows. Maybe the answer is in the anger - maybe the rage itself is right. Shouldn't good people be angry when they see evil being committed? Shouldn't we be enraged when we hear about innocent women and men and children being abused? Shouldn't we be galled by inequality and injustice?

If everyone was angry, maybe things would change. If everyone felt this same anger that I feel, maybe instead of ignoring these issues or deeming them too controversial, we would all work together for justice. Maybe we would overturn a few tables in our cultural temples, and drive out those who are abusing the system for their own gain. Maybe. This is my hope - that each of us could be as incensed over injustice and inequality as every football fan is when the refs make a call in the other team's favor. That we could all spend as much time working for justice as we spend making up our fantasy football teams and talking about last night's game. This is about human rights, people! Wake up!

Equality. Justice. Peace. Aren't these things worth fighting for?

...let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. ~ Amos 5:24, NRSV