We protest in this nation because it makes us stronger. . . We voice our hurts. We point out injustices. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be a democracy with a document that calls for us to hear each other, to work together to be strong in our diversity. When women were left out of the conversation and the voting process, people protested (some peacefully and some violently). Now women can vote, own property, and hold political office. When prohibition was debated, people on both sides voiced their opinions strongly. Many businessmen broke the law and served alcohol even when it was prohibited. Eventually the law banning the sale of alcohol was overturned. We fought to end slavery and are still fighting to end serious injustices plaguing our nation such as unnecessary brutality, child abuse, domestic violence, rape, sexual predators pursuing children and the cover ups of all of these crimes to protect those with power, wealth or influence.
I’m a history geek, a listener, and a life-long learner. I want to know where we came from—honestly, not just a cute story that makes us look good. I want to understand people and their perspectives. I take public transportation and listen on subways and buses. When I am at the store, I listen to people on the aisles with me. I listen to people sitting near me at public events. I tune in to podcasts on subjects I had never thought about before and read editorials from opposing viewpoints. I want to hear people so I can understand things from their lives and their experiences. That’s the only way I can write from the perspective of different characters, and the only way I can be in conversation with others in my daily life—people in my neighborhood, my community, my city, my state, my nation, and my larger global family.
Here’s what I hear from many acquaintances right now: “I’m angry because I love this country and someone else won’t stand for the anthem of my homeland.” You are hurt because something meaningful to you is not being respected. You are angry because your values and traditions are not being upheld by others. It’s easy to feel personally threatened by these actions because your values are a part of who you are. You have the right to be proud of this nation, it’s flag, and your own religious beliefs that you tie into your patriotism. You have used your right to call protestors SOBs and other names. You have called for them to be fired, signed petitions to force them to stand, etc.
But your words have come full circle, so you must hear your own voices: We are a strong nation because we can express our opinions and hold our own beliefs. You can call someone an SOB who disagrees with you. Oh, but wait, can’t they express their beliefs? Isn’t that what our Constitution says? If you can ask people to stand, can’t someone else ask others to kneel?
I hear some protestors say they are kneeling because this country has not protected the lives of their brothers and sisters, their cousins, their friends, their mothers and fathers. A deaf man was shot at his house with neighbors yelling that he was deaf. A man was shot for complying with the law and acknowledging he had a legally concealed weapon. An autistic man was shot for not understanding the instructions. Men with their hands up were shot. Teens were shot by police as they legally drove away from a party to head home. They had no weapons and were not drunk or high or in a stolen car. They were just going home to respect the values their parents taught them about leaving a place if you felt uncomfortable with what was going on. An innocent man was killed when the police burst into the wrong home because of their own error. The protestors are hurting and protesting out of their hurts and over these injustices. It’s their legal right as an American to find a way to shed light on social issues that are keeping us from truly being a nation where all people are free.
You are using your constitutional right to voice your opinion that you want the anthem respected. They are peacefully using their constitutional right to ask you to hear them. It’s a peaceful protest—a cry to this nation to try to find a solution to this crisis.
It’s what we do because we are Americans. We protest. We speak out. We cry out to others to hear us. On taxation issues. On women’s rights. On prohibition. On repealing prohibition. On the rights of children to be educated. On gun rights. On gun limits. On the rights of all people to be treated with respect. About the rights of all people to be safe in this nation, to be equal under the law and to be treated justly.
This will not be our last issue to protest. We are a nation of fallible humans who will keep hurting others as we try to force others to live by our own traditions and political and religious beliefs. We will cause harm. Someone will find their voice and bravely stand up for those being harmed. Someone will find the courage to hear and join the chorus calling for love and justice to prevail.
It’s what we do. It’s called growth, and it make us stronger when we listen and join the conversation. You can be heard and still hear others. You don’t lose your rights when you give rights to other. You don’t lose your nation—you watch it come to life even stronger than before.
If you care about mission work, then you should care about making sure every person in this country has access to medical care. That’s a local mission opportunity–to bring healing.
If you care about ending domestic violence, you should care about making sure women (and men) and children who leave abusive relationships can have access to healthcare.
If you care about the dignity of our elders, you should care enough to make sure they have healthcare no matter what their life circumstances are.
If you believe life is sacred, then you should make sure that every infant born can then be cared for.
If you love your community, your state, your country, care enough to sure make people in it have the chance to be healthy so they can all live up to their fullest potential.
If you care about mental health, make it accessible.
If you care about persons who have disabilities, you should care enough to make sure they can live as healthy a life as possible.
If you care about ending drug addictions, make rehab accessible.
If you care about our teens, make sure they have medical coverage.
If you volunteer to teach someone to read, but don’t also fight to get them medical coverage, have you ministered to the whole person? If you donate to a shelter for temporary housing, but you don’t fight for healthcare so people can be healthy enough to change their circumstances, have you completed the mission at hand?
Healthcare needs are woven into many of our needs in this nation…fighting crime, ending poverty, ending abuse, improving mental health, aiding those who fight addictions, improving the lives of our children, enriching the lives of all people who have disabilities, respecting our elders and providing them with a better quality of life than many face….
Yes, tutor kids
Yes, donate to shelters
Yes, visit a nursing home
Yes, mentor a teen….
But don’t stop there…. fight for what will truly help change people’s lives…fight for healing, fight for health-mental, physical and emotional, fight for testing, fight for answers!
Providing healthcare can be done. It takes all of us to agree that this should be the goal. Then we can talk about how to achieve this goal successfully. It will take sacrifices on all sides. But we have the wisdom and the courage in this nation to find out how to make it work. We have to drop party labels and religious labels and personal labels and come to the conversation with the common goal because it is the right thing to do.
Thistle Farms in Nashville has a quote that they use a lot. “Love heals.” That is such a powerful statement even though it seems so simple. What does that mean? For me, yesterday brought two perfect examples.
First, my best friend in Nashville sent me a beautiful picture for my wall. She became my best friend because we loved each other enough to listen to the life story of the other. We are nothing alike and many times she confesses that my story is so hard for her to understand. She’s happily married-I was married to an abuser who still creates problems in my life. She lives comfortably. I struggle financially because of the past and because of current medical bills for my daughters. The list of our differences goes on. But when I am struggling the most, her “love heals” because she never gives up on me.
Second, when I sent out an announcement about my book, I had someone email back saying she had lost contact with me because she knew of some of the challenges in my life but had no idea what to say. It was awkward for her. But now the conversation is started. She told me what she knew, and I told her what would have helped. Silence hurt. Love heals.
I hope the characters in my novel, Without a Voice, help paint that picture of how love does heal. That includes loving ourselves enough to take the first steps to healing!
I’m using my voice as an author and a parent to continue conversations that often start because of a news report. Without a Voice, a novel set in the 1840s, tells the story of Sarah, a young wife leaving domestic violence. She travels across three states with her young daughters as they learn about their own strengths and abilities, and as they discover a new life with family and friends. I encourage you to use some of the thoughts in this book to start or continue conversations concerning domestic violence in our communities.
Who are the people affected by domestic abuse?
We are …
- Musicians and Videographers
- Teachers and Parents
- Writers and Artists
- Executives and Reporters
- Retail Employees
- Accountants and Chefs
- Among many other titles …
We are from…
- Small towns
- Large cities
- From Collierville and Byhalia and Chicago and L.A. and Paducah and Jackson
- From Texas and Wyoming and Vermont and D.C.
- From the middle class, the working class and the wealthy
- From universities where we earned our master’s degrees
- And from colleges where we got a two-year degree…
- And from high schools where we barely got by…
Our families look a lot like yours with…
- With kids
- Or now empty nesters
- With 4 bedrooms and 3.5 baths
- With a two-bedroom fixer-upper
- In the suburbs
- Or downtown
- With a garage
- Or on the bus route
- Or in a biking community…
Our faith shapes us … We are …
- Christian, Jews, Muslims…
- The person who walks in to worship weekly
- The person who hasn’t been in a while
- The person you know well
- The person who just says hello and walks on
- The person you prayed with or prayed for
- The person who leads worship
- Or teaches a class
- Or reads the Scripture
But we face abuse…daily, weekly, whenever our abuser lashes out at us…
We stay because…
We are scared…
We are weary…
We don’t have access to any resources…
We can’t afford a lawyer…
We wonder what you will think of us…
We believe the lies…
We don’t have a place to live…
Our abuser has befriended our family and friends…you like him…
Our church expects me to carry this cross…
My children will have a broken home…
My abuser controls the money and the car and the house…
My abuser knows where I am every minute of every day….
I think it’s my fault…If I was a better person…
You tell me all couples fight…
My abusers apologizes…
I don’t know how to leave…
CAN YOU HEAR US?
Will you believe us?
Will you help us find safe places to tell our stories?
Will you listen without judgement?
Will you locate and support community resources for victims of domestic violence?
Will you keep brochures in your church or your office or your community center?
Will you stand by us as we journey through courts and through applications and relocations, as we journey to safety and healing?
We you tell us we are strong enough and wise enough and courageous enough to do what is necessary to be free from abuse?
….the court process can be lengthy and challenging…
…our abusers are controlling and don’t want to lose control…
…our abusers may lie, even in court…
…our attorneys may not understand domestic abuse…
…judges may not listen at times…
Our abusers may …
- Manipulate our children
- Steal our resources
- Draw out the process so we run out of funds
- Manipulate family and friends
- Lie about everything
- Apologize and beg for forgiveness
- Bring gifts and flowers
- Claim a need for mercy due to an illness or condition
- Blame everyone else for the problem
How can families and friends become more aware of what domestic abuse looks like and what steps can be taken to help a victim leave the abuse? Check local resources to see what may already be available in your community. Find a local support group. Also tap into national resources.
Churches and nonprofit groups—do your part. Post small signs in bathrooms (beside sinks or on the back of stall doors) to let people know that help is available for victims of any type of abuse. Post numbers of local agencies that can provide help or information. If those agencies have small brochures, keep them handy with your other information on grief, depression, etc.
Be a voice to end abuse!
With my eyes wide open, I saw your post about the overweight woman in the gym, about the “losers” on welfare, about the older woman with dry skin still wearing sandals with her cracked skin on her heels exposed, about the shoes a female political candidate was wearing, about the “riff raff” who can’t get insurance, about the fake news you were spreading without checking other sources, about the immigrants that you have never even talked to, about the gay people you think are trying to destroy your faith, about the transgender people you think are trying to harm people in bathrooms…
With my eyes wide open, I looked for your posts about trying to stop sexual abuse on college campuses, but I didn’t see one. I looked for your posts about ending domestic abuse, but I didn’t see one. I looked for your posts saying you were meeting with scared, pregnant young women to sit with them and talk with them about their options, but I only saw your post judging them because they considered abortion.
With my eyes wide open, I looked for your post that says you talked with many of us who are uninsured to discuss why we are insured and ways this nation may help families who are struggling. I just saw your posts about hoping you save money. I looked for your posts about stopping fake news and getting back to truth. I just saw your posts that repeated falsehoods that made you feel comfortable.
With my eyes wide open, I looked for your posts that said you sat with immigrants to hear their life stories. I only saw your posts about “radicals” who you think are trying to kill us all. I looked for your posts that said you sought out this nation’s hurting people so you could comfort them and spread love. I only saw your judgments.
With my eyes wide open, I looked for the invitation to the table you share with others…it never arrived…