I’m back. I’ve avoided blogging for a more than a month. It wasn’t exactly a case of “writer’s block” as it was simply that my recent subject matter, violence against women and equality issues began to feel so heavy. I felt that every time I opened a news source I was confronted by media sources that indicate that the feat of fighting this war is insurmountable. Elie Weisel is quoted as saying, “I write to understand as much as to be understood.” I have learned that sometimes understanding is an excruciating process.
Typically, I choose a few articles a week that I read with my English language learners. I usually choose at least one article that is rather controversial because it tends to spur strong opinions and because in all honesty, I learn a great deal from the opinions shared. One of the articles that I chose recently regarded the attempted implementation of Laws in Afghanistan to protect women. The article discussed the challenges of implementing these laws because of the varying interpretations of Sharia Law. One of the laws discussed was the age at which girls may marry which naturally incited conversations about child brides. This subject baffles and enrages me on such vast levels that I can barely organize my thoughts. Maybe the single most difficult thing for me to understand is the idea that a man could desire a young girl sexually and that it could be considered acceptable in any culture or by any religion. This single issue leads me to question how we can ever hope to eradicate this practice when the act itself is devoid of all of the laws of nature. If the marriage of female children can be justified how can we ever hope to combat the epidemic of rape? How can we protect women from violence in a world that is so illogical?
In this month in which I have not written, Oscar Pistorius the South-African amputee fondly called “Blade Runner” was accused of murdering his beautiful, blond girlfriend, Reeva Steinkamp. This tragic news and gruesome details made international headlines. Meanwhile, nameless, faceless women throughout the world die at the hands of their husbands and boyfriends daily. Statistics indicate that as many as 70% of women murdered each year die at the hands of a domestic partner.
Included in my list of overwhelming factors were the whispers in the media surrounding the news of a resigning Pope.The rumors focus on the scandals concerning the sexual exploitation of children, young priest in training sexually abused by senior priests and even the rape of nuns committed by priests. I didn’t question the validity of the claims, I questioned the existence of a God. I wanted to be numb.
Perhaps part of my inability to write came from the incredulous fact that though these tragedies exists the resilience of human nature prevails and life trudges on. Reality television defines the culture around me. Snooki is on the tips of tongues, The Kardashian’s maintain their ratings and a new American Idol will still be chosen. Most of us would rather have our children absorbed into a television screen than even begin to talk with them about inequality and abuse.
I began to feel to feel that the world had gone crazy. The word crazy seems so inadequate. It sometimes describes something comical and cute. Perhaps I want to say that I felt that the world had gone mad. I mean the sort of insanity that penetrates into the evil that is usually kept at bay, thinly encapsulated by self-control or at least a vague sense of what is right and wrong. I felt that the madness was a sort of bacteria that had infected a part of the population and spread to even the most holy of places while the rest of the population went on with life seemingly unknowing while the real victims suffer silently and hope that a cure will be found.
Fortunately for me, two strange things occurred for me. The first is difficult to explain. It was simply a photo. I was numbly scanning through photos posted by a Facebook friend when I saw an image captured in a black and white. It was a misty photo of a street tram traveling by what I later learned was an abandoned asylum. At the time I didn’t know it was an asylum but the photo somehow captured sorrow in an indescribable way. The image in some way stirred something inside me and awakened my desire to write.
The second occurrence was something even harder to explain. But strangely a part of my faith system became more defined. I am not speaking of a faith system represented by the ultimate pyramid scheme, amassing a financial fortune while its leaders shrug off abuse allegations. I am talking about my faith in a powerful and divine life-force that connects all of us equally in our journey through life. I realized that I have to believe that this madness that touches so many lives presents me with a choice. I can acknowledge my connection to the perpetrators and their victims and choose to continue to learn and offer help in the only way I know how, through my words, or I can let the knowledge numb me and do nothing.