Everyone is a number in this dystopian near-future where cameras track your every move. Score above 90 and you’re set for life. Score below 75 and you’re on your own, kid.
In light of the Pope’s recent decision to step down, I have been revisiting my all-consuming rage over the Church’s conspiracy of enabling and protecting child rapists within its midst. I’ve re-read a number of articles that came out in early 2010 when a new rash of particularly disgusting threads of this hellacious quilt came to light. What strikes me today, nearly three years later, is that so little justice has been dispensed.
Let’s be clear about something first and foremost. The scandal to which I refer is not the actual rape of children by individual priests (though that is scandal enough), but rather the decision by members of the Church hierarchy to cover up these crimes, transfer known rapists to new parishes they knew would be awash in fresh victims, and openly and unabashedly prioritize the reputation of the Church above the welfare of children.
Here’s a portion of a document that then Cardinal Ratzinger sent to the Oakland Diocese regarding child rapist Father Stephen Kiesle:
Keep in mind that the “petitioner” whose young age Ratzinger was so anxious about, was not one of the victims Kiesle tied up and raped (who in this particular case were eleven and thirteen) but rather Father Kiesle himself who was the tender age of 38.
Kiesle went on to rape again and again and again.
It strains the boundaries of my humanity to comprehend how such a moral calculus was made, how Cardinal Ratzinger could have so brazenly disregarded the welfare of children whom he had to know would fall victim to this serial sadist.
But what depresses me anew is the fact that Ratzinger is now resigning voluntarily from his position as Pope, rather than being dragged from that office in disgrace to face prosecution in any number of jurisdictions. I, like some of the journalists who actually exposed these crimes, was naively under the impression that bringing them to light would motivate people and their legal representatives to take action.
I was wrong.
The truth doesn’t matter. It is merely raw material to be molded and shaped according to our emotional needs. Or ignored if that suits us. We are not, as I once naively believed, a truth-seeking species. We are a comfort-seeking species. And for reasons I can’t fully fathom we are more comfortable with continuing to endanger children than we are with bringing their institutional victimizers to justice. We don’t even bother to dispute the facts. (They are indisputable.) We simply turn away.
Shame on all of us.
What’s that you say? Nothing good to listen to? No worries, check out the new Cycler audiobook, narrated by the epically talented Melissa Strom (who plays Jill) and Maxwell Glick (who plays her alter ego, Jack). These two really bring the story to life. So head on over to audible.com and snag your download. You can listen to a sample for free!
Oh and check out the new cover too.
And stay tuned for the sequel, (Re)Cycler.
The most disempowering belief in the world is the belief that we can not change things, that there will always be tragedies of the magnitude that occurred in Connecticut yesterday. But yesterday did not have to happen. We could have prevented it. We chose not to. All of us. We allowed assault weapons to be distributed freely to our citizenry knowing, as any sane, reasonably observant person must know, that some not insignificant percentage of our citizenry is mentally unstable. It’s no use throwing up our hands now and saying “Well, what could we have done? The young man was obviously sick. It wasn’t the gun that killed those beautiful children and their teachers. It was that man.” But we knew he existed. He exists in every town, every city, every state. And our response to this knowledge? To arm him. Not merely with handguns. Not merely with hunting rifles. But with military grade weapons that can kill dozens in seconds.
We did that.
All of us.
And we can change it too.
But only if we stop taking the coward’s way out. Yes, the NRA has money and members, but they do not cast your vote for you. If you vote for a politician who supports the easy availability of assault rifles, then you enabled this crime. Own up to it. And make a change. Let your elected leaders know that you will no longer tolerate the status quo. Our children are too precious. And we have lost too many of them. It’s time to step up.
I couldn’t help but notice the sheer volume of grace displayed in the face of political defeat by my pro-Romney friends. Maybe I just have awesome friends. Because, unfortunately, that grace is far from universal. In fact, there seems to be a whole lot of rage out there, much of it stemming from some pretty big misconceptions about Obama supporters.
Fear not, I’m here to dispel these misconceptions.
1. Makers Versus Takers
2. Moral Relativism
3. Tax and spend
4. Hating capitalism
So there. That’s who we are. Perhaps we’re not as different from you as you thought we were. Perhaps there are things we can learn from each other. We’re all in it together, so the more we can find common ground, the better.
Call it what you will, Barack Obama will go down in history as the first president to openly endorse full equality for the LGBT community. He even used the term LGBT in the interview he gave on the subject, which, honestly, filled me with joy. I can’t recall any other national political figure embracing the term so openly. Whether his newly voiced position represents a true “evolution” or is, in fact, an intelligently designed roll out of a position he’s long held doesn’t matter so much now. The happy fact of it all is that we finally got to the point where a sitting US president could openly embrace gay marriage. This has less to do with Obama than with the fact that so many ordinary Americans now embrace equality. We made it safe for him to get there. Yes, I wish we got there sooner. And, yes we still have a ways to go. In state after state, the battle for marriage equality will continue to rage. But the tide has turned. Demographics is on our side. The young overwhelmingly support equality.
So to my LGBT friends out there and to everyone who sees this as the universal human rights issue that it truly is, I say, well done. You led the president to this moment. He couldn’t–and wouldn’t–have done it without you.