First, Do No Harm!

I had a friend suggest I do a blog post on the #MeToo movement. That’s a hard one, because I’m a coward. Oops! Another dirty little secret exposed in a public forum. I tend to stay as far away as possible from “political” issues unless I’m in the privacy of my own home. It’s much easier to keep my mouth shut than be harassed because I’m too liberal or too conservative. Bearing in mind the fact I’m a coward, if you have an idea for a post, let me know and I’ll take a stab at it.

Without going into the politics of it all, I will say this about the movement. Under what circumstances do we automatically believe someone when they tell us what happened thirty years ago and they’re just bringing it up now? Shouldn’t there be some presumption of innocence on the offender’s part? I have a brand-new great grandson and he’s adorable. (Seriously adorable, but I might be prejudiced.) What’s scary is the world he’ll grow up in.

In today’s environment, all someone must do is make the accusation, and it’s immediately accepted as fact. That’s not the world I grew up in. Back in the day, (yes, when I had to walk two miles to school in the snow,) (except we lived in Arizona, so it wasn’t snow, it was 200-degree temperatures,) innocent until proven guilty was the norm. Not so much anymore. Nowadays, the trend is more towards guilty until proven innocent. I follow that theory myself sometimes, but it’s normally involving the actions of one of our cats or Ed, and not my fellow human beings. Again, in the confines of my own home.

I think a large portion of the blame falls squarely on the media. If it fits their narrative, they run with the story, and don’t bother doing some simple fact checking before proceeding. The media appears to be too afraid of public outrage to do their due diligence before plunging ahead. I suppose that’s all well and good, but shouldn’t they also be concerned about the lives they’re ruining in the process? A #MeToo movement turns into a witch hunt, and truth flies out the window, along with any presumption of innocence.

Since I spend most of my TV time on the Investigation Discovery network, (unless I’m on the Game Show Network,) I think the #MeToo movement has merit. Violence against women is horrible. Years ago, sexual abuse was a dirty little secret that never saw the light of day. I don’t know if it’s worse than it’s ever been, but thanks to the ability to immediately get news stories out to the public, it certainly seems so. And, in case you’re wondering, yes. I qualify to be a card-carrying member of the movement, so I know how these women feel.

I do have a hard time with two things. 1) Taking claims of abuse at face value, just “assuming” the accuser is telling the truth and convicting the offender in the media and not the courtroom. 2) Holding the accuser totally blameless in all this. Okay, I know the second one just got your hackles up, and I’m sorry. No, I am NOT blaming the victim. That’s the last thing I would ever do.

The thing that bothers me is when some well-known actress says they knew how the offender was but didn’t raise the red flag. Why not? To further their career? They aren’t responsible for what happened to them, but shouldn’t they have some measure of accountability for what happened to the women after them? We (all women) need to have the courage to stand up and protect those who might fall victim to the same thing that happened to us. If we don’t, we are as culpable as the person who commits the actual crime.

This week’s Grey’s Anatomy had an exceptional episode highlighting sexual abuse. If you didn’t watch it, but can get it on demand when it’s available, look for the episode “Silent All These Years.” Without ruining the show for you, one of the central themes was the victim’s hesitance in reporting the crime, because of what she would go through if she did. Times have changed, and it’s “easier” to report than it was forty years ago, but it’s still hard, and we (society) need to work on believing victims. But believing doesn’t mean automatically accepting something as fact, it means doing your due diligence to find out if it’s true, then holding the responsible party accountable. But what if it’s not true?

That’s where the rest of us have a responsibility. We need to hold people’s feet to the fire who “bear false witness” and we need to withhold judgment before we jump on some bandwagon without knowing all the facts. Every single time a news story is proven untrue, it takes a little bit away from believability of the next accusation. That seed of doubt is sown, and we wonder if what we’re hearing is true, or if this is another made-up story so someone can have their fifteen minutes of fame.

Why do they do it? I believe part of it is hate. Hate seems to be rampant in our world right now, and some people spend a lot of time stirring the pot. In some ways, tolerance has become a thing of the past, and if everyone doesn’t believe like you do, civil discussion ends and vitriol begins. The easiest way to foment hate? Made up or enhanced stories designed specifically to put down anyone who doesn’t believe like you do.

The Bible is filled with references to bearing false witness, and it even made the top ten. The 9th commandment clearly tells us not to bear false witness. In today’s world, you see a lot of commandments being broken, (too many!) and I’m guilty myself. Normally it’s coveting a house atop a hill, somewhere out in the country, but I think God forgives me for that one. But I’ve never broken most of them, unless killing scorpions, ants and flies fall under the “thou shalt not kill” commandment. If it does, I am in a world of hurt.

Just because bearing false witness falls in the number nine position doesn’t make it any less important. In some ways, it’s more important than any other. Why? Because lying about the actions of others has a snowball effect. It not only confuses the current issue, but it casts doubt on any similar accusations that follow. It stirs up more hate in an already hate-filled world. Our children have been killed or killed themselves because of untruths spread like wildfire on the internet. Innocent people are forever damaged by a single lie repeated over and over again, until their life is in ruins and they’re left wondering what happened. I could go on, but you get the point.

There’s an easy solution to the problem. Yes, tell the truth. Duh! The other solution is just as simple and would take care of all of today’s problems. If your heart is filled with God, there’s no room left for hate to reside. That really should be our goal, shouldn’t it?

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