Election Results, Rape, and Other Stuff
Tuesday night I sat in my family room, herbal tea in hand, in my pajamas and wrapped in a blanket awaiting election results. With my cell phone on the coffee table in front of me ready to text friends, I imagined it would be a long night and I possibly wouldn’t know election results until the morning. And then it happened fast.
I watched MSNBC for results out of my respect for Rev. Al Sharpton. In 2008 I attended a friend’s Baptist church in downtown Los Angeles to hear the Reverend speak. I sat in the front row, the only white person in the holy house, and I rested upon every word he said. His sermon was the best I’d heard up at that point in my life, which was impressive as I had listened to thousands of talks. Since that moment, I seek him out to hear how he puts language together, uses metaphor, tells stories, inspires, and speaks raw truth as he knows it. However, there was little need for him to speak much last night as the results happened so quickly.
I was moved by Governor Romney’s concession speech and captivated by the president’s passion for creating a more perfect union with the implication it is an evolving living process which involves us all. About forty percent of my friends are Democrats and another forty Republicans. The remaining twenty percent vote for the best candidate, from their viewpoint. I was aware as I was celebrating the win of Obama, many dear friends with big hearts and love for the same country were sitting with disappointment. I sat with my experience of the win and sadness for my friends simultaneously without a compulsion to shift either. I am grateful for my Buddhist practice which allows me to do this without having a need to fix, shift, or suppress the emotions of the moment. I let them co-exist.
I celebrated the many women who made it into the senate. As a woman, mother to a daughter and grand mother to a grand daughter, the rise of women in politics is meaningful to me. It tells me there can be a more holistic conversation about issues. Washington State passed a law to legalize recreational marijuana. I contacted several of my friends who aren’t users, and each one of them had voted YES for its legalization. When I probed further, I learned they held a vision of keeping non-violent citizens out of prisons and ending the role of the drug dealer in our society. I celebrated marriage equality with other Americans, satisfied to live in a time in history where a conscious choice for inclusion was made. And, now I look forward to attending many more weddings.
During the campaign season there was much conversation about a woman’s right to choose which led to the conversation of rape. Every time either side addressed a child conceived by rape controversy, there was a desire within me to jump through the television or computer screen, take the microphone out of the hands of the speaker and begin a different conversation. Discussed was if a woman should be forced by law to keep a child conceived by rape. What wasn’t being discussed, which is where I would have liked the conversation to go, was the ending of rape as a necessary evil in our country. No candidate mentioned decreasing or eliminating rape. I wanted to hear a proposal to create a bi-partisan vision followed by a strategy to change the climate or acceptability of rape in our country. Just as the tolerance for drinking and driving dramatically changed within my lifetime, I would like the same effort and energy toward rape to be created.
When a man or woman is raped, their life is never the same. It ruptures the individual’s self identity, messes with their ability to trust, and disregulates their emotional self. This can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, self hatred, illness, inability to hold down jobs and make a meaningful contribution to our society. Healing and repair can take place, yet it often takes decades to do so, lots of resources, and a crazy amount of tenacity. I believe the rapists tend to harbor much unhealed stuff too. I figure if law enforcement, politicians, faith based groups, women’s groups, rape victims and a few transformed rapists got together, they could create a strategy which would include education, laws, therapy, restitution programs, and avenues to heal victims and perpetrators while cracking down on the crime. I don’t know the answer, I just know there can be one.
I sign off today with a heart filled with hope,