I read the letter today, tears streaming down my face.
The letter written by the sexual assault victim of Brock Turner.
There have been some wonderful articles written recently about this case, much more articulate and moving than I could hope to write, so I will defer to them on the specifics. I can only say that this victim’s statement catapulted me back to my stint as the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Coordinator at the The Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties, where I had to face not only some of the most abhorrent things that humans do to one another but the aftermath of victim shaming and blaming that can cause even more damage than the original assault.
After processing all the emotion that I must have stored in a mental box somewhere, I am convicted of the importance of surrounding ourselves with kinder, more compassionate people, ones who are more committed to loving responses than harsh judgments of their fellow man. Committed more to uplifting and being uplifted than wallowing in the darkness of negativity and their own suffering.
In the past month, with no actual strategy in mind, I have found myself taking people off my Facebook feed who show themselves to be intolerant or cruel, thoughtless or negative. I wholeheartedly believe in their right to post their opinions, experience and beliefs, but I remembered that I have the power to decide what helps me to grow and flourish in a world that can only change if we are determined to change it.
Sometimes the steps are small.
Refuse to engage.
Watch our own language.
Temper our fear with courage and stand for others.
Foster joy, kindness and compassion in those around us.
I am not encouraging anyone to live in a vacuum. We need to have a sense of the tragedy and harm around us to know how to direct our energies inward and outward toward society as a whole. However, we do not have to be inundated with all the suffering around us to make better choices for ourselves.
Ultimately, I choose to surround myself with people, whether in person or virtually, who raise me up. Enable me to be better, stronger and more willing to tackle all the challenges I face personally and that we face as fellow inhabitants of this world. I hope each person who reads this will choose the same.
Author: Lisa Foreman
Editor: Caitlin Oriel; Catherine Monkman