The hurricane #Me too (PE nr 1090 – 2018/04)

Call it Irma, Maria, Katrina or Harvey, a hurricane can be devastating and I do not say that lightly.

Since the 18th October 2017, the different artistic, political, sporting, religious and other backgrounds, whether in our own country (Canada) or elsewhere, have felt the shockwaves of seismic proportions. It’s a shockwave that has crossed five continents. This is a debate that is going on right now and I do not think anyone can stop it, because EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT IT.

Is it a good thing that this debate should take place?

I like the expression “I was overtaken by this duty to truth” that the film director and ecologist Jean Lemire used in his book ‘L’Odyssée des Illusions’ when he is describing the state of our wounded planet and our mistreatment of it. As Pope Francis says, “We treat this planet like predators and not as protectors.”

Unfortunately, we can act in the same way when we deal with people. We can sometimes consider other people as objects whether they be a man, a woman or a child.  I exercise power over another person, I dominate them and I do what I like with them. The powerful person, with a lot of money, who has authority, who controls everything, we associate with success. This image is dangerous. A very talented person is not exempt from committing sexual violence. We should never forget the negative impact on the victims.

We are, sometimes, frightened by the scope of sexual criminality. The extent of the problem forces us to reflect. All five continents denounce sexual misconduct. Sexual violence is, perhaps, one of the greatest weaknesses in world society today. One has to make the effort to look.

Sexual aggression can really harm people and one remembers it many years later. One third of women, it is said, have been victims of it at least once in their lifetime. Men can also be victims and equally children, one has only to look at the problem of paedophilia.

This tempest has allowed many women to reveal the wounds and the scars that they have borne for a long time. It has been the same for many men who have disclosed the sexual violence they suffered when they were children.

When this problem arises, it is much easier to close one’s eyes and shut up rather than face reality. Nobody likes to be considered as a victim and that is understandable. There are surely laws in place to condemn sexual aggression as well as policies against violence. Social networks have done their best over the last few years to detonate the truth in this domain. Truth frees and that is a fact.

What follows from this hurricane of # MOI AUSSI or #ME TOO is not the condemnation of one or the other. It may be a time to step back, to try to understand, to look for ways to change the culture or find ways to get around the problem of what makes us act badly sometimes.

The current crisis caused by this tornado is not only a disaster; it also includes a chance for people not to trivialize sexual violence any more. There are behaviours that will no longer be tolerated, silences that will no longer be kept.

Whether we like it or not, the experience that we are encountering now constitutes a radical transformation. The revelation of our weaknesses may be able to bring us a new freedom and a desire ‘to see new things happen.’ It can also help us to get closer to our values and to our convictions. I like these words that I saw somewhere; “there are interpersonal skills that need developing in order to help good behaviour grow in a healthy way.”

Sr Gabrielle Lepage, msola

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