Honestly, Layla is one of the most remarkable young people Sunray and I have ever known – I mean just a fantastic human who Sunray and I just admire and adore. She has so much to give and to accomplish. But she and her mother really need some support. She has loads of character, is extremely hard working, is bright, full of love and discipline and has a deep heart. I can’t say enough about her. For a variety of reasons, she has a strong need to change schools at this time. Please consider making at least a small donation to what I can vouch, is a most worthy cause which will be most appreciated by Layla and her long-suffering wonderful mother – one of my and Sunray’s closest friends. This beautiful family is worthy of your support and I have no doubt- Layla will not only succeed in life with you help, but she will labor to bring her dedication, sharp intellect, character and heart into arenas of service to the world of humanity throughout her life. In this sense, yours will have become a part of a ‘gift that keeps on giving’.
A thought I had today: A person’s good name in a community is worth nothing if they would never be willing to risk it.
This morning after waking from a strange dream I saw the following posted on facebook:
It prompted me to leave the following comment about the dream I had:
I have been dealing with some heavy emotions from a difficult year. It’s funny – last night I dreamed that I was a heavy set, middle aged woman who carried around with her all of her disassembled body parts (all of them – I mean, her head, her torso- everything) in a clear gel-plastic bag – like the ones they sell quilts in. It didn’t occur to me until I woke up – how can she carry her body parts when all of her is actually in the bag? But in the dream that’s what she was doing. And it didn’t seem like there were duplicate body parts but you know- dream logic. Anyway – she sat down and started to pull the parts out of the bag and assemble herself. I noticed that some parts were bloated, other parts were emaciated. And it felt really satisfying to see the whole come together and she/I would suck in with a kind of muscular effort to distribute the mass around to correct the skinny and fat parts so that they were evenly distributed. This was a slow and satisfying process. I remember my waking thought was “hey, pull yourself together!” and this made me smile as I woke up. I was very surprised to read such a similar message on Facebook. The universe is creepy that way!
Art like this communicates and helps the healing process. The light this candid, inspired and powerful expression shines will continue to make the world a safer place by helping others to be alert to the existence of the sexual abuse in communities. One part that really hits me hard as a man is the strong, bold phrase in purple “NOT ALL MEN”
After Townshend’s victims have been neglected and misstreated, they may wish to take their allegations to everyonesinvited.uk where “victims can post anonymous accounts of abuse they have suffered.” Many girls at Townshend still have an un-realized right to safety, justice and to acknowledgement so that they may heal. The world should know.
Allegations of sexual abuse made by school pupils on a website are “shocking and abhorrent”, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said.https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-56566442
annotated copy of that article: link.faizoro.com/bbcabuse
A friend of from Townshend International School community sent me the above article highlighting how allegations may be responded to in a school setting. It’s an interesting read with important implications relevant to our experience over the past year working at Townshend, where adult sexual misconduct allegations are minimized and whistleblowers shamed- putting students at risk and harming victims by making them effectively invisible, stifling their voice, and impeding their healing. Male students are also not unaffected. They are at risk of dangerously stifled development and harmful moral education in an environment which encourages students to look the other way and “move foreward” or are advised “don’t be so negative” weather or not victims have been justly treated or afforded safety or even acknowledgement and affirmation of their experiences. One Townsend mother to a boy in the dorms tearfully stated in a parent zoom meeting “I want my son to be brought up to believe believe victims”.
So far among victims and other members of the community we have endured multiple accounts of suicidal ideation as well as hospitalization; a wide-spread loss of the ability to trust adults, institutions and/or religion and an atrociously large number community members essentially fleeing- including the resignation of a large proportion of school staff often citing ethical grounds and/or massive safeguarding concerns. It’s a large tole for something that either didn’t happen or wasn’t that bad.
The BBC article chronicles a growing awareness of, and maturing response to sexual abuse in academic environments in the midst of outcry from vulnerable students who feel unsafe in their schools and who have turned to the streets for recognition and support.
No school should be a place “where young people feel unsafe” or where abuse could take place,SIC | Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
The article points to an online initiative “where victims can post anonymous accounts of abuse they have suffered.”
The website Everyone’s Invited has recorded 8,000 testimonies of sexual abuse from pupils.sic
Let’s see what sort of response there has been to such a public facing site with anonymous allegations:
The Department for Education, the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council were in touch with the Everyone’s Invited website to provide support, protection and advice, he added.SIC
At Townshend in contrast, whistleblowers were referred to as “barking little dogs” by an administrator to the alleged perpetrator early in the investigation. The menace of legal action was brandished against at least one student for speaking out. Students were shamed with religious sanctimony about unity, having a sin-covering eye, and avoiding rumors. Leads and evidence furnished by anonymous allegations were not investigated in a ‘supportive and protective‘ manner (as depicted in the BBC article) but instead were referred to as having “the deliberate and mischievous intent of spreading rumors and misinformation in the community”. The alleged perpetrators were exonerated with the expressed ‘impression’ that “words and actions were not motivated by sexual intent” despite how a large number of vulnerable students have described their own impressions of a variety of experiences of what (they indicate) ranges from sexual misconduct to abuse.
The school received anonymized victim allegations which were collected by one “Jane Doe” (victim) first hand. Her messages represented a tremendous opportunity for the school to glean further information from these carefully collected leads- in which for accuracy, even the spelling and grammar mistakes were preserved by the thoughtful student.
Without tools, expertise or experience I found out the identity of “Jane Doe” by sending her a supportive reply message. Jane Doe revealed her identity to me before other adults and on the same day that I emailed her simply because I was a trusted adult who reached out in a supportive manner. I tried desperately for a year to convey what students shared with me and to encourage students to come foreword to the administration but the school’s response has been mostly harmful and indifferent.
A school ultimately is susceptible to the reputation it earns and may loose the ine it attempts to manufacture. While many students have been profoundly harmed I know that there are many who will do all they can to support and protect them and to try to remain worthy or their trust and friendship.
When I was a teenager, some thirty years ago I remember reading that Muhammad was caught in a scandal on the eve of the most dangerous battle of the prophet’s life. Most of the believers expected for themselves, total annihilation and trembled as they spiritually prepared to disappear from the world.
In this mood, and condition Muhamad’s wives were over-heard bickering with him in his tent in the evening. The men confronted him in the morning saying “what will you do about these wives of yours?”
“Nothing” was his serene reply. The Muslims were bewildered and angry. One of them said “If my wife had spoken with me in this haughty way I would not hesitate to kill her where she stood. Then how can you claim to be a prophet of God and do nothing about this outrage?” To this he answered only: “Remember the wombs from which you have come.” and turned and left them to their dismay. At this insult, half of the Muslims defected and joined their enemies at a time when they were already hopelessly outnumbered. Those who remained were terrified and desperate, but Muhammad reassured them, promising that those who remained steadfast would be strengthened and protected by the angels themselves. Muslims were now outnumbered, ten to one. But the ensuing battle the next day saw a decisive victory in favor of the Muslims. The Muslims in fact had almost no casualties.
As far as I am aware (correct me if I am wrong) Muhammad to this day is the only prophet of any of the great religions to have devoted an entire chapter of his holy book to the upliftment of women and to their legal protection, with arguments in support of their rights, their noble qualities and indispensability to the maintenance of community well-being and to life itself as mothers. In it – the Surah entitled “Alnisa” (the Women) he remarked ‘remember the wombs from which you came’ in the first paragraph just as he told the Muslims the fateful night before their most glorious battle on their perilous journey back home.
“Words must be supported by deeds, for deeds are the true test of words. Without the former, the latter can never quench the thirst of the yearning soul, nor unlock the portals of vision before the eyes of the blind.”
Baháʼu’lláh from: insights.blogspot.com
I was thinking this morning about how for 400 some years of US history, the institution of slavery went largely un-challenged. There was a small minority of the population that owned slaves- that is some among the wealthy, white and male, and only in the south. And yet the entire black race suffered – not only because of these slave owners, but due to the vast majority of other white people for hundreds of years, who were largely unwilling to take the kinds of risks Lincoln took on behalf of the vulnerable. It is through our deeds or lack there-of, that we stand to become worthy of the trust of others- and earn a good or poor reputation.
Yesterday afternoon 2021.03.22, I awoke from a nap in which I strongly remembered a scene/image from a dream. It was just a scene- no movement but the strong sense of the pushing away of the ground human flesh – by way of a hand pushing out of the mouth that was being offered the flesh. It was just like this – a disembodied head, upon a table, rejecting the offering. I only added the little sign or the viewer wouldn’t know it was human flesh. I’m sure this one is named “protest” and today – I drew it. I am so grateful to Sol and to Juliet whose own art, whose conversations and sharing’s have been so encouraging and inspiring to me to express myself in this way again – which I am finding so far, incredibly healing, a beautiful experience as well as therapeutic.
“The test of the moral quality of a civilization is its treatment of the weak and powerless.”
Today I just wanted to share a sort of audio-journal meditation on the beauty of the friendships formed over the past year among a group of some close community members affected by struggles we have experienced over the past year together seeing students in our community mistreated.