Being almost ‘that time of year’ I have tried to create something festive, or at least appropriate, to write down to mark the season. So far …. nothing
So instead I thought I might share something that was sent to me this week by my understated hero, Graham. It has not that much to do with Christmas as such – but one must remember that Graham has thoughts of Peace, Joy and Goodwill for thirteen months every year.
So much heartache and confusion comes because we listen with our ears instead of our eyes. Predatory people have a way of using language, not to communicate but to paralyse. When I was a chaplain at Parramatta prison, I was struck by how often I heard the phrase, “Now see what you made me do!” I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve met kids and adults who were carrying crippling burdens of guilt for dreadful acts that they never committed. Predatory behaviour usually comes with its own propaganda and if you hear it often enough, it can restrict the ability to see. Last night a young fellow told me how his life had collapsed into a dark hole from which there seemed to be no escape. Several times he mentioned that he’d come from good circumstances and that his recent behaviour was unintelligible even to himself. I was interested to hear of the “good circumstances” from which he came and to my surprise the young man began describing a life of unspeakable abuse. It became clearer that his abuse always came with the kind of lectures that said, “Nobody cares for you except me” or “everyone is out to destroy you and all you have is me”.
An abuser can disguise themselves in many ways but one of the most effective ways is as a “crusader”. If you know history you’ll know that term was used to cover murder and robbery on a grand scale, all in the name of God. If I had my way I’d wire up every home, every church and every workplace so that a siren sounded whenever “crusader speech” began. There would be some homes, churches and workplaces where my siren would render people into blessed deafness. I’m sure many abusers believe their own propaganda. There was a time when the church controlled people by threatening fear of hell and while most today don’t buy it, they’re happy for politicians to remind them of the dangers – from which only they can offer protection. My sirens would drown out most political speeches. I’ve met so many who speak for the “downtrodden” who are just building reputations and in some cases, fortunes, while caring nothing about the downtrodden. Beware of crusaders everywhere. When my daughter was young and wondering which boys she could trust, I would say to her, “Turn off the volume switch. Don’t tell me what he says, tell me what he does.” The young man I spent time with last night has a long and rough road ahead, but for the first time, he’s seeing rather than hearing.