Here in England a famous TV presenter called Sir Jimmy Savile has been much in the news. He was knighted for being such a good guy but now a year after his death it has come to light that he sexually abused young girls and boys for 40 years. His victims run into the hundreds and he is certainly being vilified in our press and in society in general. His family have removed his ornate gravestone so now he lies in an unmarked grave. To us in the UK none of this is news but it does pose a big question for me about our society and ourselves.
It is appearing that Jimmy Savile‘s behaviour was common knowledge at dinner tables in the right circles. In hindsight it appears many people knew of his abuse; some witnessed it, some may even have colluded with it, and over time several victims came forward but were dismissed. This week there has also been the resignation of a senior cabinet minister for verbally abusing a policeman, and the announcement by a NSPC spokesman that 1 in 10 children have been abused, which is a low estimate in my opinion. If we combine this with our colonial past it begins to appear as if abuse has become institutionalized in our society. Abuse and the shadow of the Abuser is alive and well in the collective unconscious of the British.
The answer is not to mount a campaign against a few deviant individuals. Instead we can recognise that this is a buried issue for all of us that needs to be brought to the surface for our personal and collective healing. We need to learn the lesson that such abusive behaviour is not OK and we can speak up early from our own centeredness and power, rather than making the suffering of others the subject of idle conversation at a dinner table.
We all have much to learn from this situation. What kind of people do we set up as role models? What are the effects of the superior-inferior dynamics on our streets and in the halls of our famous public schools, in the corporate high rises and in the corridors of power? Time to look at the male –female, strong-weak, privileged – underprivileged polarisation that breeds inequality and allows such fertile ground for the institutionalisation of abuse. None of us are untouched by this cycle of abused and abuser and now we have the opportunity to begin to cleanse this from our national psyche. It is an opportunity that I sincerely hope we take rather than judging one man and thinking it has little to do with us.
I for one will take this opportunity to closely examine my life in terms of being an abuser, my mistreatment of others, my unwillingness to see all others as equals. I will endeavour not to speak down to others, or up to them, but to speak with others in the recognition we are all in this situation together. Essentially, everyone is doing the best they can – and we all could also do a little better from today.