Relief In Strange Places

I know I’ve been very quiet lately. And I’m still probably going to be quiet…quieter than usual anyway. Less posting. Shorter posts (probably).
I’ve been spending a lot of time with just J and The Boy and reconciling and sorting out my own emotions and complex thoughts about everything happening in the world, and particularly the United States right now. It’s a lot. The overwhelming majority of it isn’t good. But my life, inside my house, is still great. It’s still full of love and joy. So the balance of staying informed and on the right side of morality and history and the need for rest and joy has been tough to maintain lately, but I’m doing my best. And I’d fallen a little too far into the rabbit hole of ‘big picture,’ so I retreated for a while (and I’m just now venturing a peek outside, to be honest…I might head right back inside…we’ll see how it goes). And during that retreat, I’ve been taking walks with my son and spotting bunnies munching clover in yards. And I’ve been watching new media with and without J. Funny things. Bright things. Hopeful things.

And oddly, one of the things I watched that renewed some hope and faith in humanity in general and maybe even my own sense of morality and ability to withstand long term hardship without harming anyone (I’m a huge believer in ‘first do no harm’…which is why I’ve been pretty reclusive lately…both literally and figuratively), is the movie Spotlight (Best Picture, 2016, if that matters to anyone who reads my blog…it doesn’t normally matter to me, but, you know…)

spotlight

Fair warning: this isn’t a movie for everyone. It tells the story of the elite Boston Globe journalism team who uncovered the pervasiveness of the Catholic Church’s cover up and denial of child abuse and molestation by priests in 2002. There could be some triggering elements for some people, although I didn’t think any of the abuse details were dealt with in a graphic or gratuitous manner.

And without spoiling the film for those who plan to watch it and have yet to see it (it’s currently streaming on Netflix), there were some parts that particularly moved me. There are several times that parties involved try to thwart the attempts of the investigative journalists to find information…the church…judges…other governmental officials…their friends and families. And the reasoning behind withholding the information (sealed records; ‘lost’ records; declined interviews; suggested publishing delays…) most of the time was, ‘This will make people feel bad.’ It would make the paper’s readership angry and/or sad upon the self reflection and soul searching they’d feel compelled to do after reading (and maybe they’d stop buying the paper). It would upset church leadership. It would undermine people’s faith in the church. It would cause some controversy (although I still don’t understand where the controversy is when child abuse is revealed, no matter who the perpetrator is). One judge asked a reporter where the ‘editorial responsibility’ was in publishing such things, and I realize this could have been scripted for dramatic effect and not literally verbatim ‘real,’ but the reporter’s answer was, ‘Where is the editorial responsibility in NOT publishing them?’

I think it’s weird that seeing this movie didn’t exacerbate my anxiety, because usually ‘bad’ stuff does, especially when I’m already in kind of a ‘bad’ place. The movie made me feel more settled, though.
(I’ve watched it twice. I’ll probably watch it again this week too).
It brought back memories of the journalism courses I took in college, and renewed in my head and my soul why I love writing still, and why I wanted to be a journalist in college, and just how hugely heroic journalists have the potential to be. Right now, in the US, governmental leadership and law enforcement regularly deride and degrade the press (and in some recent cases with law enforcement actually physically attack and abuse them) and claim journalists as people to be mistrusted and reviled. But journalists are our main source of unbiased truth. Watching this movie reminded me of that. And it reminded me on a more general scale and scope that good people will stand up for truth, regardless of how famous or known, big, controlling, well ‘respected,’ or feared the person or group trying to hide the truth is. And it reminded me just how powerful and important and impactful writing can be.

Writing can and often does reveal uncomfortable and even painful truths.
But that doesn’t make it irresponsible or wrong or harmful to reveal them.
That’s not DOING harm. It’s revealing harm so it can be rectified. That’s not doing harm; it’s doing GOOD. Pain can’t really be healed if it’s always hushed and mistakes can’t be corrected if they’re always concealed. Problems can’t be solved unless we see and acknowledge the problem first. And journalism…and writing…even fiction…helps us see and acknowledge the problems. The writing isn’t the problem. It’s revealing the problem. That’s doing GOOD. It’s not doing harm.

So maybe I need to keep writing.

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