01 January 2017

"No, We Don’t Have to 'Get Over' Anything"

"You want me to get over my loss? Actually, it'd make a lot more sense for you to get over your need for me to get over my loss." --Timothy Lawrence



two from Mr Pavlovitz in late y2016 ... ...

Our Sons Deserve Better Than Donald Trump’s Example of “Manhood”

My son is 11 years old; bright and beautiful and fitted with a heart far larger than it has a right to be. He’s that kind of brilliantly alive that only an 11-year old boy can be.

And this year, we let him down.
Donald Trump did.
The GOP did.

The Evangelical Right did.
Much of America did.

I did. 

This year, while so many people openly (and rightly) lamented the devastating effect Donald Trump’s disgusting treatment of women (and the inexplicable defending of said treatment) will have upon young girls looking on, we all forgot something: our sons were watching and listening too.
I’m not sure we’ve stopped to think about what kind of young men we’re creating right now.
I don’t know if we’ve considered the collateral damage this is doing within the boys in our collective care. 

I don’t think we can fathom what our sons in a Donald Trump America are likely to grow into:

Men with a dangerous sense of entitlement when it comes to the bodies of women.
Men for whom violent, hateful, objectifying words about women are viewed as normal.
Men who believe that money and power and their penises give them license to do whatever they want with a woman regardless of what she wants.
Men for whom the very idea of consent is unimportant.
Men who believe they will get rewarded for their misogyny and sexism and filth, because they’ve watched it happen.

This week my son asked me what Donald Trump said about women, and I did the best I could to relay it all without using the actual words, because to use the actual words Trump used, would have meant subjecting my son to the kind of explicit, angry vulgarity that isn’t normal and shouldn’t be normal for 11-year old boys—or boys of integrity of any age.

The words about women from a man who would be President, unfit to be repeated by a father to his son. Let that sink in for a minute. 

Trying to find any scenario in which any man talking about grabbing a woman by the genitalia and forcing himself on her physically is at all normal or acceptable, underscores the tragic absurdity of it all. It also illustrates the depths to which we’ve fallen and the sickness which is so pervasive; that our politics now so easily trumps our humanity.

The fact that a man with such a well-documented pattern of misogyny is the GOP representative for the highest office in the country (let alone garnering the support of millions of people who claim faith in Jesus) should be an embarrassment to any self-respecting parent and Christian. We should be sick to our stomachs right now, realizing how poisonous this all is to the hearts and minds of our boys. We should be openly condemning it all, if we had any regard for them and any interest in who they are becoming.

That so many fathers (and mothers) are not doing so, means that maybe Donald Trump is exactly the person to best represent us in the world. Maybe that is how low the bar we’ve set for our young men really is. Maybe the support for Trump is a true measure of the hatred so many men have toward women and the self-loathing too many of those women are afflicted with.

I have better dreams for my son than this.
I want him to know that girls and women are worthy of respect and decency and gentleness.
I want him to know that dehumanizing a woman is never normal; not in a locker room or a frat party or a board room or a bedroom.
I want him to know that another woman’s body is not his jurisdiction.
I want him to know that a woman’s outward no is louder than his internal yes.

I want him to know that there is a huge difference between being a man—and being a gentleman.

I believe my son deserves better than this week. All our sons do.

They deserve far better than a Donald Trump presidency. They deserve a higher definition of what it means to be a man, than an insulting, groping, bragging predator who treats women with complete disregard. 

They deserve a Christianity that isn’t as pliable as the Conservative Right and so many professed believers have made it in order to accommodate their candidate.

They also deserve better than to see adults making excuses for the words Trump has said and the things he’s done. They deserve parents, mentors, and role models who won’t sell their souls to align with a party or retain power.

One day my son will be a man, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to ever worry that he’s not a man who recognizes women as valuable and equal and worthy of respect, and I’m going to shout down all the voices that would speak something different into his ears, even if those voices are of family members, friends, pastors, and Presidential candidates.

Rationalizing sexual assault and violence toward women as just “boys will be boys”, is the best way to ensure that our boys grow-up to become abusive men who have contempt for women and believe that to be what all men do. I refuse to participate in that.

At this point, opposing this kind of language and behavior shouldn’t be seen as a political move—but a human decency move. There shouldn’t be an alternative side to choose here; not if we love our sons and daughters.

Right now my son and millions of other bright and beautiful boys with big hearts and bigger questions are watching and listening to Donald Trump, and to us.

He is failing them.

We can’t afford to.            

I’m not okay with this.
I’m not getting over it.
I’m not going to accept it.
I’m not going to move on.

I’m not going to shut up.

I’m not going to make nice or give the benefit of the doubt or hold my tongue or fake unity or pretend that my eyes don’t see what they see. They see clearly, and that of course is the source of my burden. I don’t want to see this, but I do.

And so it really doesn’t matter how condescending the bullies become or the insults they hurl or how loudly they attempt to shout me down or the violence they generate against me. I am fully secure in my pissed-offness and they will have to contend with it for as long as it is required—for four years if necessary.

That is how valuable the really beautiful things of this country and its people really are. This is the fitting price tag for preserving the brilliant diversity that has always made America great. It is the fair cost of nurturing a Liberty that is available to everyone. The sleeplessness, the wounds, the things and the people that we will lose are all worth it.

There are times when outrage is the most precious virtue the human heart can house, and this is such a time. This anger is a sacred alarm in the center of our chests telling us to respond. These are not days to shrink back or to cling to decorum or to look away and hope that it will all be okay.

Yes, it will all be okay—because we will make it okay. 

We will do the messy, painful, exhausting work of waking up and pushing back the daily Cancer that seeks to metastasize around us. We will find other like-hearted people and we will craft an opposing reply to all that is unloving or ignorant or fearful. We will be the steady, strong resistance to that which we cannot get over.

This is what humanity does when it is at its best; it protects its most vulnerable, it stands firmly in the face of the bullies, it raises a defiant middle finger to tyrannical power and declares that Love is the far greater weapon.

The tactic of the bully is to try and make you feel ashamed for your decency, to become apologetic for the goodness in you. The bully depends upon your silence. He tries to isolate you and make you believe that you are alone and that no one feels the way you feel.

To Hell with that. We know better.

We know that numbers don’t bear it out. We know that we are not in the minority. In fact the bullies know that too. That’s why they’re so loud and so persistent and so desperately flailing now—because despite “winning” and despite seeming advantage they are still so afraid, so worried that it all will come tumbling down—which of course is true. Any victory of darkness is only temporary. Love always has the last word.

And so no, getting over anything isn’t necessary or even advisable in these days. Getting over this would be consenting to it, agreeing with it, making peace with it—and that would be defeat; acquiescing to the darkness.

So embrace every bit of sickness in your stomach, every ounce of heaviness in your heart, every tear that clouds your vision, and allow them all to move you toward other good people who are equally burdened and begin fighting. 

Light does its best work in the darkest places and so this is exactly where we need to be. 

Brothers and sisters, we shall not get over—we shall overcome.

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