I talk a lot about the importance of embracing the discomfort of personal growth and learned empathy. For me it has come up a lot as I educate myself on systemic racism and white privilege. The best example (and worst, in terms of shame from past mindsets) I always give is how the first time I heard the phrase “Black Lives Matter” I felt very uncomfortable. Then I heard someone reply, “All Lives Matter” and I felt better. Like, Ahhh…yes. That phrase allows me to shake off the discomfort of analyzing the other phrase too deeply.
Thankfully, I did not let myself off the hook. I still knew there was immense and important truth in the phrase Black Lives Matter and I embarked on my journey to where I am today. Still learning, of course, but much more aware of the oppressive forces in our government and in our culture that allow me to rise and others to fall under some sort of fall narrative of meritocracy.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot this weekend – how I almost let myself off the hook from examining something too closely. And about how easy it would have been to just say, No. All live matter. That makes more sense. Let’s just embrace that and push everything else away.
Why have I been thinking about it?
Because everyone I’ve seen interviewed – who voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh – say that they believe Dr. Christine Ford was assaulted, but not by him. They are giving themselves an out with this narrative. They all felt the discomfort of having to face the potential truth that a SCOTUS judge was an attempted rapist, so they accepted this narrative that allows them to both A) Pretend that they believe the victim and B) Still support they guy they want on the court.
They are letting themselves off the hook.
Because most everyone believed her testimony. No one seems to be wiling to say, “I think she is a liar. I think she risked perjury and accepted the destruction of her life just for shits and giggles.” No, they all say they believe her story. But, if they spend too much time analyzing the discomfort in accepting her story then they have to choose:
1) To stand AGAINST their guy because of her allegations, or
2) Decide they don’t care and support him anyway.
The truth of the matter is those are the only REAL options once you’ve said you don’t think she’s a liar. We often discuss that the rate of “false accusations” of rape are minimal compared to untold stories, but the rate of “People Who Were Assaulted By A Known Assailant But Identified The Wrong Person” is almost non-existent when it’s a not a stranger assault. Read any testimony from any assault victim who was attacked by a known assailant and they will tell you that they may have forgotten the location and the time and what they were wearing and what they did immediately before and immediately after but they DO NOT FORGET THE KNOWN ASSAILANT.
The problem is, if you spend to much time sitting in that truth, you have to choose one of those two options and they don’t want to choose either because those are painful truths to sit with. So…they just let themselves off the hook and say, “I believe she was assaulted, but not by him.”
I just think we all need to be aware of this survival instinct we have to avoid uncomfortable truths. They can shatter our world views and shake our core beliefs and so – OF COURSE – it’s easier to find some other out. Some other view to take that lets us avoid those painful truths.
But don’t do that. Don’t let yourself off the hook. If you believe her, then you have to either accept the fact that it is more important to yourself that you have YOUR guy on SCOTUS than facing this woman’s accusations, OR honor her truth by forcing your party to choose someone else. And that didn’t happen. No one who voted for his confirmation said they thought she was a liar. So, they let themselves off the hook by saying they just thought she was assaulted by someone else.
Don’t let yourself off the hook when it comes to uncomfortable truths. This is a command not just to you, but also to me because even being aware of these instincts, I still have to fight them on a regular basis.