So, here’s what I’m thinking about this Friday morning, while I should be crafting an email for one client, sending off completed articles to another client, and following up with a third about a project in process.
I’m thinking about Harvey Weinstein. I’m thinking about Donald Trump. I’m thinking about domestic abuse and violence. I’m thinking about the kids that become victims of abuse and violence.
I’m not getting any work done because I can’t focus on the work. There’s so much fucking noise.
But here’s the big thing on my mind.
There’s a kid in my neighborhood, his name is Ben. He’s 11 years old, and he’s about as awesome as any 11-year-old kid can be. He opened a restaurant with his parents here in town (Big Ben’s Bodacious BBQ). We met them all at their grand opening and were struck by how amazing this kid is. He’s an aspiring chef and is more self-possessed at 11 than I am at 42.
A few weeks ago, Ben lost both of his parents in what is believed to be a murder-suicide. Yet another case of domestic violence. Our community is shocked. I’m shocked. They lived about a block from us, on the other side of the Crisis Center that’s across the street from our house. They were both found dead at home after someone called the police for a welfare check.
And, of course, everyone is concerned about Ben. He’s such a promising young man, dealing with a horrible tragedy at too young an age. The community is rallying around him. Another local restaurant is hosting a benefit. A GoFundMe page has been created to raise money for his education. This kid has suffered an unspeakable loss, but the village is hugging in tight around him, and I know there are many folks here who will do whatever they can to make sure he has a bright future. It makes me feel good to know that this is the kind of community that looks after each other in that way.
But you know what else that makes me think?
It makes me think about that building that is between our house and theirs – the Crisis Center. It’s a place for children in need of shelter, safety and support. I can see it from where I’m sitting right now. But you know what? I don’t know the name of a single kid in that building.
I’m sure that building is full of kids like Ben. But I don’t know their stories. Why?
There are so many kids out there, suffering the same sort of loss or trauma, not getting the same kind of community support. What makes one kid different from the next?
And when the fuck are we going to wake up not just as a community, but as a culture, to the reality of domestic violence? The CDC reports that nearly half of all murdered women are killed by romantic partners. As a woman, you’re way more likely to be killed by a current or former romantic partner than you are by a stranger. How many millions of kids have to survive this kind of trauma before we make a fundamental change in our culture? How many more Harvey Weinsteins and Donald Trumps and Bill Cosbys are we going to have to suffer? How many more nameless kids is it going to take?
I have no answers. I can only do my part, which starts with learning more about the Crisis Center and finding ways I can help them. With hugging in tight around those in our community who are victimized (this is Gary; there are a lot).
And by calling out this behavior when I see it. Not letting the Harvey Weinsteins and Donald Trumps and Bill Cosbys get away with their behavior for so long. But even I know that is easier said than done. Our culture is still one that blames the victim and punishes those who speak out.
How much more damage control do we have to do before we finally address what’s doing the damage?