Today I bring forth an argument: To Shame or Not to Shame.
I saw a post which decried sharing acts of abuse in open fora as is the habit of social media. The reason given was that by doing so the shame experienced by the victim is further entrenched. My first reaction was to agree, but as I allowed the thought free rein, I began to change my mind.
The shame is there.
It took residence when the person was violated. It was introduced, it has infiltrated and it is resident. There is no degree of shame. Shame is shame. The only measure is the extent to which one goes to hide the wounds, the scarring.
Shame by its very nature is secretive, seeking to skulk in the shadows, its long tentacles intruding deep into the recesses of soul and psyche. It is this need to hide, to cover that allows perpetrators to go free.
I see it lurking, flickering hopelessly in the shadow of an eye, the cut lip that pretends to be a cold sore, the swagger of the fist-bearer, secure in the knowledge of his protection, that cloak of shame that will keep silence no matter the cost.
So I am not sure that it should be kept hidden from public view. I’m not convinced that it is a crime to share acts caught on camera. I tend to the opinion that an opportunity to bring into the light Mr flailing fist, Mr Macho rapist, could be the first step in bleaching that stain of shame. I imagine the relief at a burden shared, the knowledge that now, maybe the hell will end, and then that shame can begin its journey into the oblivion to which it belongs.
I stopped dead in my tracks. The thought and the sighting fused simultaneously in a moment of glee and awe: “He aint heavy, he’s my brother”!
This past week the tide has been full at around six when I go walking. My temperamental feet don’t allow me to walk too far on a soft, sloping surface, so on these mornings I head off into the dune forests which have their own special attraction.
It’s amazing how a heap of sand and some undergrowth totally deaden the interminable hush, roar and pound of the sea. Here there is absolute quiet, and a sense of peace that is sublime. You have no choice but to walk as quietly and reverently as you can in this Edenic paradise that must entice God Himself. Your ear soon tunes into the sounds around you: little rustlings in the bush; birdsongs; a twig cracking as monkeys, guinea fowl and not yet seen red duiker and suni move out of one’s way.
With the advent of spring and some good rains a couple of weeks ago flora is erupting, and there are new treasures every morning. A thicket of wild jasmine bushes erupted into vestal white, perfuming the air all around; a small bush sprouting showers of pansy blue; a little yellow rose-like flower delicately adorns a robust shrub.
At the end of most of the tracks through the forest are glorious vantage points from where you either look out on pristine dune vegetation, or onto the beach and miles of Indian Ocean. There is a fallen trunk, conveniently placed at a point where it is politic to pause a while, that is a most comfortable seat. I have named it “The writing chair”. This is where I put the thoughts that crowd my mind from all the stimuli around me into a notebook.
It was there that my heart stopped one morning as I saw a human sized shadow silently stalking the bush! What great relief when it evolved from shadow into Scott, my neighbour and fellow scribe, barefooted, coffee carrying and intently pursuing what he firmly believed was “the duiker”. These early morning perambulations must have something to do with being writers.
On one of these mornings on a stretch of what passes for road in these parts, that I have been on countless times, I suddenly saw the sight that stopped me in my tracks and made me want to reach for my camera. A small, white trunked tree, forked a third of the way up its trunk, in which nestled the remains of a huge branch. There was no other interpretation than the cribbing of the song title. This little tree was supporting, for no visible reason, a tree three times its size. There has to be a lesson in that, and my mind took off running to the tune of the song.
I needed to look more closely at these two entwined friends. They bore absolutely no resemblance to each other: the one had pale, smooth bark, was upright and had full leaves; the other wore rough, drab, dark bark, mean leaflets and large unfriendly thorns.
What truths can be gleaned from this conjoining in the natural!
That we live in a world of opposites was so clearly highlighted. The restfulness of the forest a sandbank away from an ever busy sea, a strong and peaceful friend to a prickly overweight brother, the emotions that swirl beneath the still façade of a small beachside community.
I can put it no better than Solomon writing in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:
Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together,
They will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered
By another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Paul tells us in Galatians 6:2 to “bear one another’s burdens…” Again in Romans 15:1-2 he tells us that “we who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak……”
How many times have I tried to go it alone and failed dismally? How many times have I turned back from supporting a fellow human simply because the look of them was not to my liking? How many times am I deaf to a friend’s silent cry for help because I looked at the thorns instead of the need?
Once again I am humbled by the simplicity of the lessons taught by my Creator and my God in this place, at this time in the journey of this life He has given to me.