Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wise words from my parents

As a child my parents would often say to me that the most important thing to remember in life is, "Never trust anyone in authority and always think for yourself." It took a long time for the real truth and meaning of those words to become apparent.

It has been a bad week for authority in these islands. In the United Kingdom the authority of parliament is in tatters after revelation upon revelation of duplicity, secrecy and attempts at covering up multiple expense scandals. There are so many Terry Pratchett books I cannot remember in which one a character says, "We always put our politicians in prison the day they are elected, don't you?" Then Terry goes on to explain, "It saves time later!" Perhaps it also speaks volumes that there is a greater outcry over our politicians use of money than there ever was of them lying to us and taking us into an immoral, illegal war. The police have serious issues with acting in a political way at demonstrations, violence and causing the deaths of innocent people.

In Ireland the full horror of children's lives destroyed by sexual, physical and emotional abuse over decades has been revealed in an official five-volume report. This whole matter made even worse by the fact that it's publication was delayed by years as the Christian Brothers sought legal action to withhold the names of those responsible. To quote Ruth Gledhill, "Torture, rape and beatings. That's the unforgivable story of Roman Catholic Ireland in the 20th century. Still the perpetrators have not been named, and may never be brought to justice. It would be no exaggeration to call this a holocaust of abuse."

It is particularly telling that although boys suffered the most sexual abuse, "Female witnesses described, at times, being told they were responsible for the sexual abuse they experienced, both by their abuser and those to whom they disclosed abuse." How the story of Eve ripples down the years!

And this, "P**** W*** was two years old when he was taken to court with his two brothers aged three and four and a sister of six months. The crime: their mother was in an unhappy marriage and had left her husband. She was viewed as the guilty party by Church and State. We were put in the dock, charged and sentenced for, 'having a parent who does not exercise proper guardianship.'" His memories of the next 14 years are of physical and sexual assualt, hunger, fear and privation at the Artane Boys' School near Dublin run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers. And then there is the anguish of a mother who had her children ripped from her arms because she had the audacity to stand in her own power and demand a divorce. "For years we couldn't believe that she had tried to get us out but she made numerous attempts and was told it was impossible. She had to go back to her husband if she wanted her children."

Yesterday morning there was a discussion on the radio between a victim of abuse in Ireland and an Anglican priest who was clearly a good man who knew how to listen. One thing he said struck a chord, that authority - church and secular - tends to try and keep people like children. Or, he could have said lambs (to the slaughter). Authority cannot cope with people who stand in their own power and think for themselves. Authority thrives on secrecy and abuse.

If anything good can come out of all this it will be a total end to deference and the realisation by the majority of those words spoken so often by my parents many years ago, "Never trust anyone in authority." Of course I am reminded of some words of Karen Tate, "With this means of (Goddess) worship or thought, spoon-feeding from a pulpit is over and the journey becomes as important as the destination, The independent, intuitive, immense and immanent nature of Goddess can then remain a living tradition without the pressure of restrictive dogma created by a select few."

Time for a new way of living, may Goddess set us all free.

Labels: , , , ,