The Boys are Asking Questions

Hey, Guys … I have wanted to write this post for a while.  This is for men; this is for the sons who need good men to be in their life; this is for women who can encourage men as they feel led.  And just as importantly: this is for the young people in our generation, in our lives, who desperately need something, like support, like a “Hello”.   Years ago, I worked with at-risk kiddos: both boys and girls; mostly adolescents.  I remember in a group we were having at the group home, one boy was responding to my words that his participation in the group without screaming profanity was very important to everyone.  His words were:

“Who Cares?!!”

Here is what he meant:

 

 

No One Cares Depression Overcoming Depression Quotes

 

The question, “Who cares?!”, I learned is not meant as a question, but a statement.  After the boy asked that question, I answered him: “I care.”  He looked at me, rolled his eyes, and said  “It wasn’t a question.”  There are two other questions that were “asked” often:

“What difference does it make?”

“So WHAT?!  What are YOU … going to do?”

These two questions were like the first one: statements.

Okay, my point is this.  One of the dynamics that was going on, and maybe the kiddo did not even realize it, was this … in my own description:

A boy throws out a question that is really a sneer,  another version of

“F _ _ _ Y _ _”. 

The question / statement is also meant as a dare.  My paraphrase, instead of “Who Cares?”, what is meant is this:  I DARE YOU TO CARE!  Don’t tell me you care, because I’ve heard it all before by mean people, and didn’t care.  You say you care, but I am going to go run from this place, and … guess what?  You’ll never see me again!  Do you know how many stinking counselors I’ve had since I was ten, when Social Services took me away from my parents?  No, don’t tell me you care.  I know better.”

I’m going to add one statement to those three questions:

“I don’t care.”

The big picture, guys, is that this area of discussion is a big mess.  Our society has betrayed our kiddos.  If you were to invest into a kiddo, one of your hurdles would be to give that kiddo a reason to care.  Another hurdle: to show that you actually do care ( in response to the question).  And it will probably take a while.  Another hurdle: get a handle on how you are going to answer the other question, “What are you going to do?”  If you say you are going to do something, then do it.

Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. 

For their question about “difference” … that’s a tough one.  Our kiddos today need to see the difference, because talk … is … cheap.

And, my last encouragement, guys, is this.  As men (not kids / adolescents) we have our own “stuff”.  Maybe some of you are saying to yourselves right now,

“I … Don’t … Care.”

If you do not care, then forget about investing into the life of a kiddo.  Let me rephrase that:

PLEASE …

forget about investing into the life of a kiddo.

If its your son or you daughter, that is a different story but the importance of caring is no less important.  If you are doing the “I don’t care”, then you need to … somehow … get your butt from the stagnant pool of toxic emotions where you are sitting in, to some dry ground, where you will stand firm, and stand in the gap, and fight for your son and your daughter.  You are needed now.  Let’s do this.  This could be one of your finest hours.

 

 

Leave The Children Alone … Men, Be Good Men

Top secret

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/mar/14/obama-transparency-podesta-sunshine-week 

 My heart truly goes out to the countless goodhearted, wise, godly, Catholics  … angry and saddened … for fellow-Catholics who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests / nuns.  Another story in the news: victims of sexual abuse, perpetrated upon by Catholic priests, get a settlement (Seattle).

*”The Archdiocese of Seattle … to pay about $12.125 million to 30 men who alleged they were sexually abused as children and teens at two Seattle-area schools from the 1950s until 1984, their attorney said.” http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer

“The agreement comes weeks after Pope Francis said the Roman Catholic Church had to take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”   (Same article:  http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer

Those words from Pope Francis stir up many questions:

“(The Catholic Church should) … take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”

Pope Francis’ words came, according to the article, within the last several weeks. And sexual abuse has been happening since … the 1950’s (?) … but they have made a profound observation that there needs to be more action taken regarding the priests and nuns who are sex offenders.  Pope Francis’ words refer to the Catholic Church being “disgraced”.  Surely this does not suggest that the Catholic leadership is more concerned about how the Catholic Church is viewed, than the hearts / minds / souls of their victims of sexual abuse?  I wonder: if the sexual abuse was not exposed, would the Catholic Church still have been disgraced?

https://i0.wp.com/api.ning.com/files/O55D1Wr7*l9nXy8hPltdUzY5JITwIO-MlakVQAYMB8kbYXHpehDEoYtmDy1IM0Q9BN8LQ88-nmMjVA91LeFhHWWkuFb4bqw2/secrecy.jpg

http://wittenbergtrail.org/group/lutheransforliberty/forum/topics/liberty-quotes 

And if the Catholic Church had not been disgraced, then would their really be a problem in their eyes?  The words “Hush Money” have been used in articles / news referring to funds for victims of sexual abuse to be quiet about their abuse.  “Hush Money”, therefore, is for keeping the Catholic Church from disgrace.  Did the sexual abuse victims feel “disgraced” after they had been abused?  I think anyone would feel disgrace after being violated in a sexually abusive way.  Many victims kept silent for a long time.  Why?  Shame? Fear of reprisal?  Concern that no one would believe them? “Disgrace”?  And yet, the Catholic Church communicates their concern, more about the Catholic Church’s disgrace, than with the victims of the sexual abuse from Catholic priests.  For the cases that have been exposed, it was no longer “Hush Money” … but instead a pitiful rationalization, my paraphrase: “If we pay you this money, then its all settled.  You go your way, and we will continue to do what we do.”

The Church (globally) in America calls people to live with integrity, to be safe, to be honorable, to be virtuous.  At least, there is some good news: the “Hush Money” is exposed; the sex offender priests are being exposed; the numbers (settlements and victims) are being made known.  All of this as opposed to the secrets continuing.

  • Secrecy …
  • Is a predominant theme …
  • In the depravity / violence of …
  • Sex offenders …
  • And the fear / shame of …
  • Victims

When the secrets are told, the secrets lose power.

Here are some numbers, some of many, that are staggering.

*Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007, alone.
*$85 million in September of 2003 (just that month).
*$100 million in 2005, January.

“According to Donald Cozzens, ‘by the end of the mid 1990s, it was estimated that… more than half a billion dollars had been paid in jury awards, settlements and legal fees.’  This figure grew to about one billion dollars by 2002.”  http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Settlements_and_bankruptcies_in_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases

Between 1994 & 2009,there have been over 1,835 victims of sexual abuse.
Settlements / legal fees between 1994 & 2009?  $1.269 billion.

Here is the last piece in the story that brings about great disruption and immeasurable sadness from the link, http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer:

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in a statement on Tuesday (6/24/14), according to the Seattle Times newspaper,

“Our hope is that this settlement will bring them closure and allow them to continue the process of healing.”

REALITY CHECK, people.  Let’s not be so naive as to think that there is going to be significant healing with all of these men and women who have been victimized.  For some, yes.  For some, no … for some there will be no healing.  And its possible that some individuals are hearing Sartain say (my paraphrase) …

“Hey, here’s the money; and its a lot of money; so, since we are paying out a lot of money, then we expect for there to be a lot of healing, and then we won’t feel so bad.  And we don’t want to hear anymore about this.  Now, get out of here.”

Now, I know; I know, I know, I know … that those were not the words from the archbishop from Seattle … but if I was a victim of sexual abuse from the Catholic Church, I might just think that way about what Sartain is saying.

The money …
d o e s   n o t    c h a n g e …
what happened.
The money …
d o e s   n o t    g u a r a n t e e  …
full healing.

Last question, maybe irrelevant:
Is there any correlation between victims of sexual abuse and suicide?

Those are just a few links to go to if you are interested.  All links are unanimous in their research: yes, there is a correlation between childhood sexual abuse and suicide. So, healing?  No, not for everyone.

 

Forgiveness: It is NOT “Cut-&-Dry”

In the thick of a writing session, working on a dialog, I took (what I thought was) a wrong direction … For me, this is part of the writing life.  Sometimes its decent; sometimes its crap.

Two guys have a fairly well-established friendship of six to seven years.  Time rolls on, and they stay in touch: coffee; breakfast; good phone chats.  This (fictional) exchange is about the uncomfortable process of forgiveness that I am trying to work through.

“So, how are you doing with that co-worker situation?”
 
“Yeah, I forgave the guy.”
 
“Okay.”
 
“Yeah, that’s old  stuff. (pause)  Are you picking up on something?  What you are thinking?”
 
“I was just thinking that you can do forgiveness one day, and your guard is still up.  Forgiveness might not be a one-time thing.  You may have to keep going.  If someone gives you “the cold steel blade in your back”, you can forgive: over and over and over and over.  Does that mean that you forget that this is an unsafe person?  If he hurt you once, he can hurt you again.”
 
“I know I have forgiven the guy, but I cannot shake the idea that he could betray me again.  That is part of his wiring.  So, yeah,  I’ve got my guard up.  Do you think that is wrong?”
 
“No.  You keep your guard up, and forgive the guy.   Forgiveness is not ‘cut-&-dry; it’s not simple.  I’m walking with you on this one because of my own pain.  Here is a question for both of us: ‘How do I  find freedom and some peace of mind knowing that I’ve been hurt, treated wrong; and at the same time, stay out of bondage to unforgiveness and bitterness?’     
 

Man Hides … Who is Edward Snowden?

The question … on CNN (no, I’m not a CNN fan, but I am a news-junkie): Who is Edward Snowden?  He is a 30 year old (somewhat) young buck … who grew up in North Carolina, dropped out of high school but went back to grab a GED before (eventually) embarking on a spy career.  He had a decent salary for a high school dropout, $122,000.

Christopher Boyce‘s comments are insightful, about Snowden’s situation: “Snowden is doomed” …   http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/14/world/asia/hong-kong-boyce-snowden …    Is Boyce a bit dramatic, here?   Boyce’s 25 years of incarceration, that ended in 2003, might be part of his biased assumption that Snowden will experience the same consequences.  Boyce may be ticked if Snowden escapes prison, after Boyce’s 25 years in the SLAMMER.  Until recently a question on the table was … how to get the boy out of China, back to the States.  Now China is, apparently, off the table.  Russia is the place where Eddie is going, ” … I’m leaving, on a jet plane. ‘Don’t know when I’ll be back again …” (Peter, Paul, and Mary – lyrics for “Leaving On A Jet Plane”)

It’s not like anyone would sell Snowden out, in Russia.  By the way: as an eccentric, I notice the strangest things in life, like the similarity between the names “Snowden” and “Snowman“.  The latter was Boyce’s partner Daulton Lee in a “real life” spy scandal, later wrote about in a book using their code names: Boyce – “The Falcon” and Lee – “The Snowman”.    Well, plenty more to say … but time will tell about WHO … Edward Snowden really is, and what he will do.

Exiled Men

EXILE: what a bummer!  Removed from your country, because of political issues? Or, something you said?   You may have seen this quote before.

“No exile … at the South Pole or on the summit of Mont Blanc … separates us more effectively from others … than the practice of a hidden vice.”  Marcel Proust  http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/exile.html

People have been exiled for something they said, or attempting to gain power.  In America, people say bad things about others ALL the time; and power is a big deal for many folks.  So, where would everyone go, in exile?

Interesting that you would ask that question.  There were islands for exiles.  Patmos was one of the more famous ones.  commons.wikipedia.org / http://www.sportschaplain.org   John was at Patmos …He made a few enemies because of his connection with Jesus.  OOOPS ! 

Voltaire was an exiled fella.   He really knew how to get under the skin of certain folks in France, criticizing the church in France; talking smack about the royals.  “Oh, Wow … Was it something I said?”  Off to the Bastille: a fairly intense fortress in France.  Thus, Voltaire – Despair.

English: Marseille, Château d'If, as seen from...
English: Marseille, Château d’If, as seen from ferry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edmond Dante’s was another fella who ticked off the wrong people.  Dante’s was the mainFile:Edmond Dantès.JPG guy in The Count of Monte Christo, (some say the story was named after a sandwich).  Dante’s exiled at the Château d’If, a small island in the Bay of Marseille (southeastern France).

EXILED MEN … I think of men who live their lives in subtle, “flying-below-the-radar” isolation as men who are, figuratively, in exile.   It’s not a realm of clear-cut categories.  Men hide: both good and bad.  Men are targeted by others in the workplace, for quite a few reasons.  Betrayal cuts deep, and the scar still has pain beneath the surface. Some men never heal from it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Edmond_Dantès.JPG

I remember a quote from many years ago, and I liked it for a time.  But now I know that the quote is not true:  “The world cannot hide a good man.”   Good men do isolate; good men do hide; and good men do … exile themselves.  And to get away from unsafe people, one can become acclimated with exile.  It is a sad reality.  But it does not have to be that way.  Sometimes it takes courage for a man to surrender his exile, and “show up” with life.

Men Who Are Bullies … 3

In my journey of learning, and processing … working with folks, I like to flip things over to look at them from the other side.

With bullying … I mentioned in the last post that, in 2012, there were 1800 + books published on bullying. This means that there has been a whole lot of research going on, about bullying, and … a great deal energy spent on communicating ideas / concepts / data that is different from how others have communicated the data about bullying.

Instead of gravitating toward the micro/analytical/detailed psychological aspects of bullying, I’d like to consider some basics about bullying … in a categorical manner. It is so common in our day and time to get away from the basics. There is a kind of appetite Americans have for … the sophisticated … the over-analyzed … the “new”.

A man from the past by the name of Solomon wrote about wisdom … and he was considered my many at that time to be a wise man. Solomon, many believe, wrote that there is nothing really new … it’s all been said before.

In my experience of working with a vibrant cross section of folks over the last fifteen years, I have come to believe a few ideas about bullying: only a few items. I would be honored and privileged to receive feedback / input, whether you agree with me or not.

1) Insecurity … One of the goals of the bully is sabotage one’s “security”; or, one might say that a bully wants to wreak havoc on one’s safety. (Question – Where does a man find his security?)

2) Power … One theory of bullying is to take back power that the bully once lost, to someone else (who stole it from him) … What seems ironic (or is it paradoxical?) that the bully keeps trying to take his power back, over and over, and it is never enough … Thus, the bullying comes out of the bully’s loss of power at some time in their life. (Question: What is powerful … from a redemptive, honorable, perspective?)

3) Identity … A bully wants to make a name for himself, or herself … On some level, don’t most people? Some people do NOT want to make a name for themselves … They want to remain hidden … And that dynamic of “hiddeness” connects with the bullying category, in different ways. (Like my question with #1, where does a man find his identity? And in the realm of hiddeness, is one running from identity?)

Well, hey … those are three categories of the bullying paradigm. I’ll stop here, and come back at a later time. I want to wrap up on somewhat of a redemptive perspective.

Bullies pay, at some point. They really do. There is a tremendous opportunity for some folks to come out of the hellish desert of being bullied, to experience some victory, some healing. And yet, there are countless individuals who did not / will not experience such victory, such healing in this lifetime, on this planet. Innocent sojourners have died, and will die by suicide or homicide. In those cases, I’d like to think that in their death, they are no longer suffering. The bully cannot get to them anymore. If one believes in eternal life, this is an important concept / reality to ponder. If one knows their God, their Christ, before their transition from the “here” to the “there” … from the “now” to the “then” … then there is immense, unfathomable peace beyond the horizon. And, again, the bullying is over. In the words of a student to a bully: “In a short while, I will be at peace, and in a better place. But you … you will still be a bully, and your payback is coming.”

Peace in the storms. Keep your eyes on the prize.

T