Actions, Reactions, and Being Better
by Roseanna M. White
One of the reasons I love writing historicals is to show that the heart of humanity has never changed. No matter whether you're talking about ancient Egyptians or modern Americans or anything in between, there are a few things that we will always seek--our dreams, our goals, our pleasures, family, love, escape from the things we fear.
But we think we've changed. Evolved. Graduated out of certain things. I wonder though. I wonder if we have.
This has been quite a year so far, hasn't it? Gun violence, sexual impropriety, you name it. We've had the #metoo movement, new scandal in the Catholic church, and the Christian publishing industry is rumbling with harassment charges and other improprieties brought to the fore as well.
And my heart hurts. Not just for the women who have suffered (though of course, I ache for them). Not just for the men who may have been accused unjustly but will not be given an "innocent until proven guilty" look from anyone again. Not just for the victims and families ripped apart by violence. Not even just for the church that keeps taking a pounding.
I ache for humanity, who has still not learned that it's not enough to react.
I've been chewing on these thoughts for weeks, months, and I'm still not sure I can adequately put them into words, but I want to try. I want to try so that you can add your words and thoughts, and others can add theirs, and maybe at some point, someone will hit upon something that will actually allow for change.
At any rate, here is what I keep coming back to:
Reacting isn't enough.
Treating the symptoms isn't enough.
As long as this is all we do, we're going to keep on doing it forever, because nothing is ever going to change.
It isn't enough to tell men, "You hurt me." It isn't enough for others to say, "Now you'll be punished." We have to first teach people what is sacred, to have respect. We have to change the heart--not just the actions. Both are required to achieve real change in society--teaching first, enforcement second.
The idea of "sexual freedom" has led us so quickly to this, and I will never believe anyone who tells me otherwise. A generation of women has systematically broadcast the message that sex isn't something sacred, their bodies aren't something to be respected, and since it's just fun, why not indulge whenever you want? On their terms, of course. Only ever on their terms.
But when something is offered more or less freely--free of consequences, free of entanglements, free of stigma, free of judgment--it's only one short step down to thinking it's something you don't even have to ask for, right?
And from a society that thinks sex is something to be enjoyed whenever they please, it's only one short step down from thinking it's something they have a right to take whenever they please. And from there, one more step down to thinking they should take it whenever they please, from whomever they please. Should they, do they? No. But that's the message the people of this age have received.
Because that's what they've been taught. We've gone from tolerating to accepting to applauding sexual promiscuity in both men and women. We fantasize about it and champion it. And then we're outraged when it's abused and misused.
Yes, the abuse and misuse is terrible. I hate it. But just reacting with outrage will NEVER change it.
Let's turn for a second to the church. You know what was in the headlines the week before 9/11? Sexual scandal in the Catholic church. And that certainly wasn't the first time it hit the news. This has obviously been around for a long, loooooong time. Why? Because instead of being dealt with, the accused priests are just moved somewhere else, and the hierarchy accuses the media of sensationalizing and attacking. There are people who have admitted they became priests SO THAT they could prey on people with no consequences, knowing if they were caught and accused, they'd simply be moved elsewhere. I'm sure those cases are few. But the fact that they exist at all points to a major flaw in the system that the church doesn't seem inclined to correct.
So how do we fix it? That's the question, right? How to teach people to respect each other? How do we teach people that some things are sacred? How to make them actually change?
This seemed like a really hard question to answer until I read Love Does and Everybody Always by Bob Goff. He presented an answer to this very question that is both ridiculously simple and ridiculously hard. LOVE THEM.
At the end of his second book, Mr. Goff talks about witchdoctors in Uganda. These are people who have been hated and feared since the dawn of time. So feared that even the justice system never dared to arrest and accuse and try them. Until finally they did, and justice finally began to move.
But that wasn't enough. Because it only reacted to the problem. It treated the symptoms. It didn't cure the disease. So they started educating the witchdoctors. They started loving them. They started telling them that God loved them too. And you know what? Now the people who were once sacrificing children, are saving them.
This is the power of love. This is how real change is made. We teach people to respect life, to respect each other, to love each other. We show them the better way--and we punish those who abuse it. Quickly and effectively. We demand of each other that we Be. Better.
I joked to my best friend that instead of just #MeToo, we needed the hashtag #StopBeingASchmuck or maybe #BeBetter. The first was just me being silly, but the second has some truth in it. It isn't easy to be better. But if it's something we desire, it's achievable. First, though, we have to inspire that desire.
Let's love each other. Let's love the monsters as well as the victims because it's those who deserve it least who end up valuing it most. Those forgiven much will love much. Let's teach each other that love comes first, and that where there is love, there is respect. There is sanctity. And where there is love, respect, and sanctity, there is the Good.
We can't just keep reacting. We have to #BeBetter.
A Note from Roseanna
Wondering if I've ever dealt with issues of sexual abuse or misuse of power in my books? Here are a few of my stories that have heroines who have been forced into such situations and experience the healing power of a God who is love and the people who choose to embody Him.
In A Stray Drop of Blood, Abigail is a slave forced to the bed of her master. She doesn't speak up because she doesn't think she has a voice, and she fears the consequences if she does. But Abigail learns that even in her darkest hour, her God really does hear even her. Purchase a signed copy HERE.
In Jewel of Persia, Kasia finds herself a member of a harem--one of many women not just in her husband's past, but in his present. How can she love a man who doesn't value the sacred union like she does? Purchase a signed copy HERE.
In The Reluctant Duchess, Rowena suffers what today would be classified as date rape. And her father's answer is to try to make her marry the man who attacked her. She ends up accepting the help of another man--a kind, Godly man--but learning to trust him is no easy task. Purchase a signed copy HERE.
About Roseanna M. White
Be sure to check out the original article here.
About Roseanna's latest release, An Hour Unspent
With Danger Creeping Ever Closer,
Do Their Dreams Still Matter?
Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.
Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.
As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it.
What books do you like that deal with tough topics?
Which of Roseanna White's books is your favorite and why?
How do you show your love for your fellow humans?
November's reading challenge celebrates Family Ties.