Daring to Rise Above the Crowd
It's no secret that I love social media. I love how it can bring people together. I love how I can have the most amazing friends all over, how we can keep in touch and be active parts of each others lives via social media. I love how I can be inspired by the artistry of others. How I someone can share the very words I need to hear through some meme and not even realize it. I love that I can so easily learn new things. There is much to love about social media. However, I've found myself rather disheartened by it lately. It's due to one primary factor: the mob mentality.
I'm sure you've noticed the way that these trends go on social media. Here is a compiled list of the top 10 instances of mob mentality. It isn't the only current instance, but this was all brought to mind by the Stanford Rape Case. If you aren't familiar with it then be my guest and google it. I'm sure you'll get a good idea of what I'm referring to. I agree that there is a conversation that needs to be had regarding our sexualized culture, the injustices in sentencing and revictimization of the rape victim in the legal system, and I'd even like to see more conversation about the role of pornography in all of this, like you can find here.
My concern about what I've seen displayed across the internet this last week is how we seem to see fit to dole out justice ourselves. Don't like the crime or punishment? Blast their photo all over with labels and vitriol. Modern day Scarlet Letter. I'm so glad that it isn't my job to determine justice and intent for individuals. I feel saddened because I cannot help thinking about the Atonement and how it applies to even the least of these. I feel sad because I relate so much to the victim, having experienced some victimization myself. I watch this Consent & Tea video, and I wonder if there are women out there who are just realizing that some of these scenarios have occurred in their marriages and wondering what that means for them. Or if their husbands are just realizing these things about themselves and piecing together what that means about them. Of course, this applies in other relationships as well. It's just that being a part of a community of women whose loved ones have betrayed them in some way, dealt with pornography or sex addiction, I've heard so very many stories. So many stories of heartbreak, and yet also so many of beautiful change and healing. I know that people change because I've seen it, experienced it, firsthand. This is why I feel that perhaps we can choose to do better and be better. Choose to rise above the mob mentality and to avoid public shaming. Choose not to contribute to vitriol. Choose to share and educate from a place of compassion and concern rather than hatred and desire to be right. I know that reading the news this week was extremely triggering for myself. I felt hit by a truck all over again. I believe that was a gift from God to be reminded of that severe traumatic pain that was once such a regular part of my life. My heart goes out to any others of you who may have felt that way as well, because I know you are out.
Today I am grateful that I can choose to leave justice to He who knows all and gives justice perfectly. I am grateful that there is hope for people to change and hope for people to heal. Each of us matters. Each of us has worth.
*Sidenote: I recently binge-watched all of the episodes of Felicity on Hulu. There is an excellent storyline that deals with a college student's rape and I feel like handles it very well. It's a different scenario than the Stanford one, but I think it's worth watching and gleaning from. Season 1, Episodes 7 & 8
Added later: Some final thoughts from a reading I just came across. C Terry Warner in "Why We Forgive":
"From almost the beginning of time we have had a counterfeit of this religion ['the religion of atonement']. It also claims to rectify injustice and compensate for pain, though unlike the religion of atonement, it cannot deliver on its promises. This counterfeit religion, like the religion of atonement, features scapegoating, but not the kind of scapegoating that points toward Christ's sacrifice. Often this other scapegoating has been played out in community religious rituals. In these rituals, the uncleanness of the community is projected onto a particular creature or creatures, sometimes an animal, sometimes a human being. The scapegoat, a surrogate or substitute for all offenders, is sacrificed, or driven out from the community. It serves as a kind of sponge to absorb the guilt and uncleanness of the whole community.
In the most commonly cited examples, this rite of purification takes place in a formal ceremony, such as the mock warfare enacted among the Dinka people that gradually becomes a united frenzy as the participants actually strike a cow or calf tied to a stake. In other cases, the community conducts this grim proceeding quite unaware of its ritualistic character, as in the Salem Witch trials. It might be said of all such cases that accusers despise in the animal or person accused- the scapegoat- the evil they sense in themselves and cannot deal with directly. On the surface, they punish the offenders; on a deeper level, they desperately try to purify themselves.
Many of us practice the religion of scapegoating daily, when we find fault, condemn someone (even if we say it only to ourselves), or try to dig the mote out of another's eye. We may say we are only trying to help the other person 'straighten up', or to teach that person an important lesson, or pay that person back for what he's done. But in the scapegoating pattern, the truth is that we want to make someone else pay for our miseries; we desire that because we do not feel clean ourselves, and without quite realizing why, we feel compelled to fixate on the sins or shortcomings of someone else. At least momentarily, finding another to blame relieves us, or at least distracts us, from the necessity of examining ourselves. We pin our hopes on establishing someone else's uncleanness so that we won't have to face up to it in ourselves."