Archive | September, 2010

Time Bound

30 Sep

I love music–all sorts of music and all genres, decades, and artists.  Don’t insult me with trashy lyrics and ruin the music, and all is well.  Here I sit listening to the Eagles, “Out of Eden” compact disc.  The tune playing is “Just too busy being fabulous.”  Man, sometimes I wish a song would never end.  So, what do I do?  I replay it . . . again and again.  I did that with an old BeeGees album in 1972. 

I used to hate watching my LPs and 45s on the turntable.  I also hate watching the countdowns on my CD counters.  I wish time would just stop–JUST CEASE.  But being time bound, can music play without the passage of time?  Grrrrrrr.  No, it cannot.  I want to freeze time like they do on television.  But I can’t.  In reality, I am just way too busy trying to be fabulous, and never getting there.  I am out of Eden.

Think of the programs on TV that we have seen before.  Those lovely reruns of the 1960s and 1970s still evoke similar frustrations from my youth.  I still hope for different outcomes.  But I hope against reality.  Just imagine, though, the things we could have avoided in life, or the things we could have stopped before they occurred.  Reruns have stopped time, or have they? 

If we could freeze time, just think!  Sorry Cher.  I don’t want to turn back time.  I want to stop it dead in its tracks.  Had I the power to do so, I will have stopped time for all, ceasing good things from occurring in the lives of countless millions, while the bad occurred in mine.  In stopping time before the demise of a loved one, would I have ceased medical advancements just shy of saving lives of others? 

Wanting time to freeze for myself is asking for others to miss out just for me.  I’d be asking them to miss out on good and bad.  But freezing time also might help to avoid something terrible from happening to another.  It would then be benevolent for some.  Who knows. 

All I know is that being time-bound, as I am, means I cannot act outside of time.  Someone, or something, has to enter this reality if there is any hope of that happening.  This is the beauty of God entering creation.  We could do nothing to freeze time.  But eternity entered time for a purpose.

God is not time bound.  If He was, he would be part of the creation, somewhere, somehow.  Not even death could hold Jesus.  The Fall, which affected the entire universe and all Creation places us in a predicament.  None of us get out of this life alive.  Death ends time-bound status.  Time has to end for eternity to begin for us . . . I am watching my life on the jukebox turntable, but someone keeps putting in new quarters each and every day. 

“This is the last song, I’ll ever write for you.  It’s the last that time that I’ll tell you just how much I really care.”  Pfffttttttt, pfffftttttttt, pffttttttttttt, pfffttttttttttt . . .

Living Like It’s Tomorrow

28 Sep

Today is the first day, a brand new day, the only one in which we can live!

Do we have the presence of His presence in the present that, by faith, presents His presence of tomorrow to the present?

We can only live for today.  Right?  But how can our minds think through plans for days that have not yet existed?  Good question, huh?

Having said that, what a goofy life it would be to not be able to envision beyond the present, and into the tomorrows that lie ahead.  I believe that having the ability to think about tomorrow, the future, as if we can see it as real, is symbolic of eternity.  The ability to plan and see into the next day’s events, is quite interesting, isn’t it?  Living beyond the present, and into the future, in our minds seems ridiculous.  Yet that is exactly what we do.  How fascinating is that? 

Why is it any different from our minds to envision the eternal future?  Eternity will only be a day away from our earthly existence one of these short days, anyway.  Focusing on the future means being in two mental places at once.  Focusing on eternity means that we live today, like it’s tomorrow.

The Apostle Paul wrote: 

“Brethren,  I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13-14)

Paul understood the goal, the prize, the calling–and that living futuristically by faith, while in the present, is indicative of the eternal hope we possess.

So, what is it exactly that is keeping us back from taking that step of faith today?  Why are we settling for status quo, when tomorrow is not guaranteed?  Why not take “a ride on that bull named Fu Manchu?  Why not give “the love you’ve been denying”?  Why not live like we are dying?

I encourage everyone to think about tomorrow before deciding things today . . .

May God show each of us the relevance of these words for us today.

Say What?

24 Sep

There is something catchy about working with the youth of today. Actually, there are a lot of things one could catch from them. Believe me, it is not just the little human creatures that spread germies.  😉

One of the most intriguing elements to our youth is their propensity to think they invented language.  We all know that each generation has its way of saying things — many of which are similar to previous generations.

If you have your own children, consider whether you have observed any changes in the ways they express themselves at home, or at school.  I am not referring to the newness of text message abbreviations.  Rather, has anything changed in your world, particularly with the usage of adjectives as superlatives?

Here is a list of what I have heard so far this year — and I am leaving some out for the sake of discretion:  Far out, groovy, cool, wasted, screwed up, messed up, man, weird, psych!, moded, face!, dumb, effin’, gnarly, wassup?, awesome, totally, dude, sick, hot, da-yim, rockin’, freakin-A, what’s crackin?, doofus, cha-ching, whatever, busted, whoa, what the—?, keep on truckin’, turned on, that’s cold, grounded, crazy sick, way cool, like totally, gag me, redneck, trashy.  Popular today is also triplet consonant constructions, where two of the three letters comprising such constructions are “W-T- . . .” 

“Dude, like, man, I know being hot is the same thing as being cool. But, like, being cool ain’t cold, cuz in order to be cold, like you can’t be sick. Dude, like, being sick is, like cool, and OK I think you’re hot.”

You following me, parents?  I have learned a few things over the years. Solomon was right — “There really isn’t anything new under the sun . . . Vanities or vanities, all is vanity” (except of course if it’s an end table with a lamp).  Language and context are inseparable, KWIM (Know what I mean)?

We all thought we had cornered the market on slang.  No one related to us better than our peers, and the code words we used were the instant “in” with people who chuckled at our creative interpolations.  The more bizarre a word, and the further from its actual usage it was placed, the better the result.  Recognition by our peers for creativity is not left just to the young people of today, I might add.

“Aiiight, so catch my drift on niss. I gots ta git movin’.  Sews umgonna holla atcha later.

Peace and mahada.  Out!”

Mom Was Right!

24 Sep

The new clothes have been worn and are dirtied.  The backpacks appear somewhat disheveled and school textbooks have been distributed.  The novelty of a new academic year has all but worn off.  Yep!  The kids are back in school.  The routine of school has many parents thrilled. Gone are the days of the summer teenage conflict and confrontation.  (My mom was always happy when I went back to school.  I wonder why?)

 Right about now, students are finding school to be “more of the same,” quite routine, and many might very well be fighting apathy.  Apathy often comes across in the phrase, “This is boring.”  (No, not from the teachers—from the students!)  Advantageous activities, athletics, and academics–and assorted ancillaries–are all assets and antecedents, accompaniments, according assistance annually.  (Sorry, I just had to!)  Life is not boring, so how can school be boring?  To a high school student, routines are not the thrills they are to parents.

As a high school teacher, I find myself struggling to make certain my educational environment and goals are maximized each and every day.  I am not alone.  But this column is not about me, or my colleagues.  It is about YOU, the parents, and how we (teachers) can best work together for the success of the students we share, each and every day.  Lofty goal?  Maybe so.  The desire of the hearts of many of us?  Absolutely!

My thirty years of classroom experience have taught me some very valuable lessons.  As a parent and a teacher, I am able to see things from very unique educational vantage points.  Being a parent has definitely made me a better teacher.  Now, if being a teacher could make me a better parent, I’d be one fortunate man.  My mom was right.  But more on that later.

I have learned a few things over the years which I would like to share with the reader.  I trust these will be received in the collaborative spirit, in which they were intended.  I would like to begin with the offer to partner together for the better interests of us all.  Here are some things we can work on together as partners for our students.

First, as cliché as it might sound, we must communicate with that special young person that we share.  Communication is two-way.  Ever wonder why it is that the larger the vocabulary, the fewer the words spoken to parents, by some students?  Regular communication with students and teachers will avoid some of the frustrations that seem to emerge from the educational process.  Communication is relational-respectful.  It opens doors and builds bridges.  Parents and teachers who stay in touch are in a “win-win” situation, over time.  Communication is critical for students during their teenager years.  It is even more critical for teachers and parents during these same years.

People who stay in touch regularly, find easier solutions to problems than those who allow the anonymity of time and life the power to sort things out.  Let us dedicate efforts to be problem solvers, and thereby teach our shared-students a very important set of skills.   To this end, one really good strategy to connect home and school is through the use of technology.  Phone calls are good.  However, email is quick and can be accessed by many of us throughout the day, and even from home.  What we teachers find, is that when parents stay in the loop with us, students most often respond.  We also know that when we ALL get busy, one of the first things to slip is communication.  We all must guard our time carefully.

So here’s the deal.  Life gets busy for us all.  As parents, would you please help us to do a better job?  You can do this by taking the first steps and contacting us.  Get to know us.  After all, we do serve members of your family some seven hours per day.  We are both in the same “business” of working with students. 

Second, let us challenge our students to find motivation and passion.  The junior year for many students is the most grueling and burdensome of all of high school.  Some students find it difficult to summon the same energies needed for their senior year.  Freshmen and sophomores have unique issues as well.  It is important that we find ways to encourage students to tap their unused resources and find their passion for learning.  The summer between their junior and senior years can help to promote new and exciting ways for students to rediscover passion for learning.  Family time set aside each week for all high-schoolers is another good time to recap the week and to reconnect.

Third, Let us encourage each other to bind together to demonstrate good character and mature, positive adult behaviors.  This can be done as fans at the stadium, in the gym, at the store, coaching in the community, and even  while driving.  What we all do as responsible adults, sometimes unknowingly, provides license for students to act in certain unacceptable ways.  Positive values are caught as well as taught!

Fourth, can we agree to model to our students that reading, respectful discussion and studying are important? This can be done at home at dinner, on weekends, or on scheduled dates with your student.  Family discussions are a wonderful time to promote healthy informational dialogue.  Many teachers open their classrooms at lunch to work with those in need.  If you believe your student needs extra help, or needs an adult to address certain issues on your behalf, let us know.  Let the students see all of us as responsible adults, as we continue to support each other, learn and grow professionally as an educational community.

Last, let us never forget that we were young once also.  Can we find levels of patience and understanding that keep in balance the recollection of the ways we were during our youth, with the reality that there is still right and wrong?  The older I become, the less-inclined I am to believe that I was really anything unlike today’s high school students.  In all likelihood, if our students found out all the crazy things we did at their ages, they might well be shocked.  Yet, like good adults, we can find a little place for the blame for our kids’ behaviors.  Facetiously, we can blame “Mom’s Curse.”  You remember that one, don’t you?  “When you have children of your own, I hope you have one just exactly like you.” 

My mom was right!  Was yours?

Difficult Times

23 Sep

There are so many things that change each day in our lives.  Here in California, life is not unlike life in other states.  We have 12.3% unemployment, and that does not count the underemployed, or who have stopped searching for work.  Jobs are the lifeblood of any state’s vitality.  Right now, across the nation, millions upon millions are out of work–and some of my family and friends are in that number.  I am sure it is the same for you.  Times are difficult right now–and not just in the area of jobs and employment.

Just a few short years ago, we could have envisioned a time when we retired and enjoyed the fruits of our labors.  But now, it seems, many of us in the Baby-Boom Generation enjoyed ourselves a bit too much along the way towards retirement.  Extreme debt, living beyond our means, accumulating more “things” in life than we needed, bouncing from relationship to relationship, and so on. 

In some ways we all wanted our cake and to eat it as well.  We are all products our choices–both our own choices and those of others.  We surely cannot blame life for all the difficulties, without taking some of the responsibility for the very life we live that may very well have added to the situations we are in.

All right then.  There are difficulties in life.  That’s a given.  Whether physical, financial, relational, or some combination of the above–difficulties abound in a changing universe.  Do we just put up with them, like we would put up with a politician and his policies?  I say no.  I say difficulties present opportunities to offer support and encouragement to others.  Yes, right smack-dab in the midst of our difficulties, offering support to others is a strength, a plus, and a bonus for us too. 

I can only speak for me, but I will tell you all that I have been placed here on this earth for a purpose.  I am not just passing through to the grave.  No way, man!  I am here to touch lives.  Life is a blessing in-and-of-itself.  Living each day is circumstantial, and I refuse to alow circumstances to keep me down for too long.  Reaching out to others when times are tough is counterintuitive to our emotions during these rough times.  But the product that results from the effort is amazing.  We are all wired to be social creatures, to share in each others joys, successes, and to help to carry each other’s burdens.  This is the way God intended it to occur.  We fight this reality so much when we are faced with personal difficulties, at least, I know I struggle with this.

I could tell you about the students who are fighting leukemia and battling for their lives.  I could describe the cancer wards at a local hospital, or take you through imagery of foster homes, prisons, or tour through homeless shelters.  Our veterans are returning from Iraq, and some are wounded for life, or missing limbs.  When I look at my checking account, or savings account, how then do I possible feel that life is more difficult compared to so much around me?  Knowing all of that, means I am called to help as I can.  Someone else is called to help me, and so on. 

When the difficulties of life begin to mount up, let us first challenge ourselves to see our roles in these difficulties.  What can we do to assist toward changing them from difficulties into past difficulties?  Next, may we reach out toward someone is greater need and bless that person’s life.  Last, may we understand that nothing in this life is permanent, and that difficulties are here for a purpose.  Compared to eternity, life is but a whisper and a vapor.  We can miss the overall purpose of our life by burrowing deeply into self, or we can help others whose lives have been subjected to changes, as well.  It is our own choice.

I am not going quietly into the grave, folks and I certainly am not going to simply give up when prolonged difficult times present themselves.  Life will be over soon enough.  Yet, like those times when my mom called me for dinner, over and over and over again–and I took my time going home . . . So, too, do I plan for God to say, “Dude, I’ve called for you a hundred times.” 

Today is the day to conquer our own worlds.  Don’t give me any excuses about a bad back, a trick knee, or arthritis.  I do not want to hear about the excess weight, or the high blood pressure, etc., etc.  It all begins in our minds and attitudes.  What we are convinced we cannot do, we won’t do.  Yes, we are aging and some of us are just plain “old.”  But what a privilege to age and to get old! 

The Prophet Isaiah wrote:  “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly; Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength.  They will mount up with wings like eagles.  They will run and not get tired.  They will walk and not become weary.”  (Isaiah 40:29-31)

In closing, today I am putting on this mind-set:  “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13) 

Anyone care to join me for a walk around the block?

Competition: Human Life v. Human Life 2010

21 Sep

Competition: Human Life v. Human Life!

By Dr. Ernie Zarra, Ph.D., Copyright 2010

Competition has always been the bedrock of American economics.  Adam Smith, political philosopher and economic genius of his day, wrote about the invisible hand.  Within that discourse, he penned these words:  “Profit is the motivator, and competition is the regulator.”  How true.  How true.

Profits are why most of us work.  The notion that there is somehow a purist out there, akin to Mother Theresa, and works tirelessly, selflessly, or otherwise spending oneself for the sake of a higher purpose is more fiction than fact, I am afraid.  In the words of Gordon Gecko, a la Wall Street fame, “Greed is good.”  Art imitates life and sometimes it is the other way around, in fact.

We all do things for “self.”  Politicians who claim to have the American people’s best interests at heart, or claim to be doing the will of the people, are just plain rambling rhetoricians.  Religious leaders whose gospel is about “American rights and civil discourse,” are preaching a religion of racial or political sectarianism.  All of this is fraught with competition.

What I plan to address in the following is highly controversial and might very well offend some readers.  I apologize for any disagreement that might be taken personally.  But I do not apologize for speaking what I truly and honestly apprehend as the truth.

These past few years have pitted some very distinguished groups against each other.  Most of these groups are concerned with issues of life–some for moral reasons, and some for monetary reasons.  Some of these groups seek ownership of products through patents.  All of the groups are seeking profits, in one form or another.  Many university and private research labs are seeking names for themselves–along with federal funding.

Monday, March 9, 2009, President Barack Obama (#44) signed an Executive Order revoking the limitation of “Federal funding for research involving human embryonic stem cells.”  (www.whitehouse.gov)  What the president has done with the execution of this order is to pit life advocates against life advocates.

Recall, President Bush (#43) signed a moratorium on federal funding of any new embryonic stem cells lines.  He did not ban private groups or private money.  Essentially, Bush allowed the Clinton administration advocated research to continue under private monies, while funding the existing programs when he took office in 2001.  Federal funds did go to existing stem cell research at the time through the NIH (National Institutes of Health).

Let’s take a brief look at the current president’s justifications for removing any barriers in experimenting with embryos in his executive order.  First, Obama says he wants to “enhance the contributions of America’s scientists to important new discoveries and new therapies for the benefit of mankind.”  Second, the president writes that he “is a man of faith,” and his faith is a driving for helping mankind.

At this point, many readers of this piece (making a great assumption here), are probably thinking I am against stem cell generation, harvesting, and research–including therapies derived from such scientific and medical breakthroughs and programs.  Nothing could be farther from the truth (You have to love colloquialisms). 

I know many people in my daily sphere who are medical professionals.  I rub shoulders in the real world with physicians.  I pick the brains of scientific researchers.  I have coffee with oncologists, and have met with and lunched with neurologists.  Some of these and other medical experts are close friends.  Several of these experts are religious, but not all.  Some have deeper ethical beliefs than others, just as we all have. 

 

THE HUMAN GENOME

There is serious competition today between groups seeking to patent human genome discoveries.  The science world seems bent on patenting human embryos, as they are fertilized in labs, used, and stored in “embryo banks.”  We already pay college kids for their eggs and sperm.

Europe, Australia, and North America continue to bring such requests before the courts.  The same is true for human cloning.  Human cloning has been billed as the “perfect fit” science.  If a person had a clone of himself, then any worn out part cold easily be extracted from a storehouse of parts, or a clone-bank, like unto what is already done with corneas, blood, and other organs that are harvested.  Clones would make it possible to have a perfect fit for our own bodies.  (Side note:  Those who live in the south are familiar with Piggly-Wiggly supermarkets.  Heart valve replacement patients who have received pig valves as replacement valves, won’t ever have to worry about strange guttural “oink” sounds if they shop at . . . Oh, never mind).

 

How is all of this like unto embryonic stem cell research?  With the passage of Obama’s order, the argument of removing barriers to science is one step closer to removing another barrier:  human cloning.  Some call this a “step in the right direction.”  Others call it a slippery slope.  I am in the camp of the latter.  Science is never satisfied with status quo.  Politicians politicize.  Legislators legislate.  Scientists scientize (research).  The competition is on!  The race for patents and profits is a Gordon Gecko mantra-fied delight!

I find the president incredibly naive in at least two areas:  (1) That he thinks scientists are enhancing their profession by ending human life, and (2) His faith prompts him to overlook moral and ethical issues. 

The president’s inexperience as a leader is showing.  His experience as a man of politics over faith is equally as glaring.  His sacrifice of morality and ethics for ideology is quite unnerving.  Even members of his own party are now stepping back and wondering what they have done.  From the economy to employment, to legislation, people from his own party are putting significant distance between themselves and the president.  November 2010 does not set itself up for any Democratic gains.  Quite the contrary, if you believe the political pundits from all stripes. 

In terms of politics, the president has set up how own party for losses.  The economic policies have caused several Executive Branch appointees to resign and draw sharp distinction between the President’s policies and their own views, while now distancing themselves from their former “boss.”  In keeping with his very-left ideology, the president has set up the following competition:  Life v. Life.

Let me ask who or what gives any president the authority to determine that human embryos are a matter of experimentation?  I know what gives him the power.  But I am talking about authority.  If he is a man of faith, I ask “what faith?”  Faith in science?  Faith in people who are tax cheats who will now hold everyone else accountable for doing what the cheats did?  Faith is whom, faith in what, faith in what sets of beliefs?  Valid questions–ALL OF THEM.  If more of the American people had asked these questions about another key word of Obama, maybe we would not have to see this competition unfold.  Remember CHANGE? 

All right.  The reader has already picked up on the fact that I am against using embryos for anything.  Such life v. life notions by the president are false scientific choices and a false dichotomies morally.  Here is why. 

There exist at least eight stem cell therapies already–including the use of adult stem cells that come so very close to the stem cells of the human embryo.  The Bush moratorium in 2001 actually enabled scientists more broad discoveries and realistic therapies, that might not have been discovered if everyone was focused only on the use of human embryos for therapies.  So, why use the embryo, if that is the case?  There is only a “promise of potential” in the use of embryos.  Is the moral, ethical, political and fiscal cost worth the “possible” benefits, knowing we already have so much helpful therapy available, presently?

Let’s review exactly what an embryonic stem cell is all about.  At the point of conception between sperm and egg, a zygote is formed.  Within 3-5 days, due to rapid cellular reproduction, the package of cells is supercharged to continue multiplication.  All the DNA is present for a human being, with all the earmarks (thought I’d use that term in light of some of the recent political, budgetary controversies) of a human being.  To many, the soul is implanted at the point of conception, and “being-ness” becomes an issue. 

If the president is a man of faith, does his faith inform him about this dimension?  If his faith does not inform him about the human “soul,” then does he believe it does not exist at conception?  Consistent with his view on abortion, the president has no qualms about supporting even late-term abortion.  Suffice to say, the faith that informs the president’s view on conception of human life, use of human embryos, and the destruction of fetuses within the womb is inconsistent with any “Christian” denomination, or biblical teaching I have ever heard of.

At around the five-day mark, these “super-cells” are not yet marked for any specific tissue, and have the potential to develop into any tissue, if manipulated.  So, the issue of embryonic stem cell research, then, is about scientists intervening very soon after the point of human conception.  They then remove the super-cells from the “blastocyst” (3-5 day-old embryo), and discard the rest.  They throw away, as waste, the parts of human life that are not needed.  Because the size of what is being used is small, it is visually insignificant.  [No one has seen a soul, yet many of us believe the invisible to be quite valid and essential to human life]

 

The theory behind the use of these super cells is that they would be introduced into diseased areas of bodies to grow new tissue, or support existing good tissue. 

Presently, stem cells are grown from blood, placenta, spinal fluid, organs, and several other areas of already, fully grown adult stem cells and tissue.  Such donations of bodily material and fluids are not resulting in forfeiture of human life.  These are donations that enhance life.  Embryonic stem cell research pits scientists against human conception, and it is NOT a fair competition.  Conceived human life always loses for the “possibility” of saving an already born human.

The president has pitted those with disabilities, illnesses, and diseases against those who would seek to protect embryos from experimentation and destruction.  I can assure you I am not against science and I have empathy for those who are suffering.  Again, I would like science to be free to find cures–not at the expense of human life competing against human life.

If the president is a man of faith, I would also ask if he is a man of morality and ethics.  He has set up unfair competition that has only one place to go–DOWN!  Scientists are pressing to patent and own human life.  Destruction of human life–and everyone agrees that is exactly what is being done–for human life is unfair and unjust competition.  It will result in monopolies.  Whenever human life is seen as “property,” we lost our moral compass.  Just the mention of the terms slavery, abortion–and now embryos–in the same breath, sends shivers down my spine.

I asked earlier where the president, a man of faith, got his authority to decide the fate of embryos.  Solomon, someone much wiser than he and I together wrote:  “No man has authority to restrain the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it.”  (Ecclesiastes 8:8)

The president’s naiveté, or his blatant disregard in not considering the depths of morality on the issue before the reader, is in line with his style of political leadership-not his faith.  Going into greater debt fiscally in order to climb out of fiscal debt is just plain dumb.  Going into greater moral debt to climb out of what he sees as “8-years of failed political and moral policy” debt is even worse.  Two years of failed Obama policies are steering us in the wrong direction, in more ways than one.

In closing, the president’s actions of late have disenfranchised the three largest bases of religious groups in America.  Roman Catholics, Evangelical Christians, and Mormons.  Add whomever else you will to the mix.  Is this the man of faith and principle we are talking about?  Is this the man of change? 

Life v. Life . . . a Barack Obama special edition of “I can do what I damn well please, and there ain’t nothin’ anyone can do about it, without being called vile names.” 

Well, game on, Mr. President.  Put your cigarettes down for a moment.  Without your teleprompter, you are nothing.  I am sure you are shaking in your boots.

Fractured Souls: Sexual Abuse

21 Sep

I have noticed a few things over the years.  Much of what I am writing is derived from experience, personal interview and research, through tough inner reflection and writing.  What I am writing about is nothing new.  It is borne out by medical experts in the fields of psychiatry and psychology, social workers, counselors, and educators.  This issue means so much to me, because the very essence of our next generation rests in the balance between extreme relational dysfunctionality and wholeness. 

The issue is child sexual abuse. 

As adults, there is a set of common personality and behavioral traits that emerge from those who have been victims of child sexual abuse, sexual crimes, and sexual assaults.  One of the first things to emerge is a certain “victimization interpretation.”  What this means is that it appears as everyone else’s fault for things that go wrong in one’s life.  In real terms, those who care most receive the worst verbal and behavioral onslaught. 

With respect to those who are victims of abuse, it seems the closer significant adults get to the heart of the issues/symptoms (and the very origination of the abuse), the more the outcry and anger.  The deeper one probes to discover truth, and the more one presses for communication, the more the diffusion and distraction may result.  This is true is some teens, as it is in adults.  It is difficult for victims of abuse to love correctly, and fairly.  But it is not impossible. 

In efforts to help, close friends or loved ones who get too close to the center of the problem, the more reaction and accusation are projected upon the questioner, or “truth-seeker.”  Such truth-seekers are labeled “emotionally abusive,” and the volatility that is displayed is blamed on the seeker’s “perceived” lack of understanding.  It does appear that victims of sexual abuse know all too well the value of creating other victims, in order to emotionally level the playing field.  They use such accusations as ways to distract from the depths being challenged.  The inability to sustain long-term changes of behaviors is a source of frustration to many involved in the life of the victim.

Victims of rape, incest, and other sex crimes often work themselves out in a series of behaviors typical of victims of these sorts of crimes.  There is a high incidence of promiscuity, rampant imagination of lurid thoughts, and even edgy sexual practices.  Essentially, the victim finds his/her place in the area of sex, in areas that THEY can control.  There is often a confusion of the roles of gender, physical pain and pleasure, whereby there may be reversals or enhancements for gratification purposes.  Many times, BDSM and control-type practices are the earmarks of those whose sexuality was scarred at a young age.  This is not a judgment, but a point of conclusion through my personal research. 

Children who were victimized sexually, often exhibit traits of hiding out from circumstances that “feel” like those they experienced as a child.  They have predictable meltdowns, behaviors that demonstrate there are still in recovery from their childhood fracturing.  However, these experiences are not the same, despite the feelings.  The child-like feelings are projected onto adults, who are simply making efforts to cause communication.  There is a feeling that “something is being taken from them against their will.”  But this is only a perception that brings the past to the present. 

Adults who have never come to terms with their past abuse act it out with others as adults.  Some with whom I have spoken indicated they have never told anyone but me of their victimization.  However, over time those who have been victimized, may very well demonstrate this past in real, present terms.  This may be demonstrated by a variety of sex partners and/or risky sexual behaviors.  I have interviewed dozens of men and women, and the reality is often the same.  They seem to have this very notion that the very thing that was taken from them while children, is the very thing they act out and control as adults.  It becomes more insidious when they run into someone they do not perceive as willing to accept the victim’s past, but wants sexual gratification in the present. Essentially, power and control exerted by some often lead to sex and the cycle repeats itself with them victims as adults, validated this time as an adult, by an adult ”taker.”

Adults who have suffered sexual crimes against them as children, have emotionally disconnected relationships and/or failed marriages.  They fear the closeness of others who might very well have figured out their depths and closeted past.  They also raise children with substance-abuse issues (alcohol, tobacco, and/or drugs), have certain addictions (sex, pornography, etc.), and who have multiple sexual affairs.  Sex and the search for happiness are hallmarks of adults who were sexually abused as children.  We find this among prostitutes, homosexuals, and others possibly victimized as children.  There is not a perfect correlation here, but many I have spoken with—both hetero-and homo-sexual signal their affirmation. 

Today, with the Internet and its prolific nature and contact possibilities, adults find a set of welcome others to explore their interests, sexuality, imaginations, and relationships.  One can even explore his/her own lusts anonymously and meet up for sexual activities. 

A fictional example which will bring all of this together follows. 

When confronted about a pattern of behaviors, or when “caught” at something previously hidden, the “victim” will scream, yell, claim “foul,” and point the fingers at the supposed “accuser,” as a means to distract from his/her actions.  Often, these actions are the catalysts for others to be dragged into a situation or two.  Yet, when challenged, ownership of problems is not taken. 

Now, how do we help these folks?  We help them in many ways.  We help them first by understanding their strategy.  Once we do, then we will see that their modus operandi is to engage others to make people jealous, involve others to heap abuse on people who actually challenge and understand them, and all in the name of “self-defense.”  What they are really crying out for is for understanding that they are not yet beyond that which happened to them as children. 

Next, we can assist these people in loving them in “right ways,” and now playing into their weaknesses, or taking advantage of them.  Sometimes tough love is the best and only way.  Whatever the case, unconditional love of the person’s heart and soul is key.  A real distortion is prevalent, in that victims of sexual abuse are confused as to the dynamic of a balanced and proper loving relationship.  Other times, it is best to be gentle and to understanding, consistently pointing out that each day brings with it new and glorious opportunities to deepen relationships. 

Another way to assist these folks is to ignore their name calling and tantrums, and see beyond the rhetoric to the heart.  Victims will verbally abuse and call people everything in the book, in order to cause others to think they are the problems. Again, it is worth reiterating, the closer one gets to the real problem, the greater the accusations and abuse.  Loving persistence is keen.

For anyone having an intimate relationship with a victim of sexual abuse, there are extremes.  There are extreme highs and extreme lows.  The inner “demons” are not well hidden once the soul of the person is unlocked at its most intimate level.  I will leave it at that.  But we must understand that those in extreme edgy and extreme behaviors have gotten them from somewhere.  Behaviors are learned.  Desires are cultivated.  Natures are encouraged and explored.  Even extreme role-playing can be evidence of a fractured identity and sexuality.  Notice, I refer to such as “extreme” and not of the playful type.  Look deeply into the lives of prostitutes, homosexual lifestyles, and porn-industry men and women, and the signs are telling as they are alarming.

I would like to make one final salient point.  We also must understand that those who understand each other tend to congregate and find solace with each other.  Abuse victims find abuse victims.  Those that have relationships where only one person has been victimized, is in for a long haul.  If one is a giver and one is a taker, then the extremes in the relationship may be severely exacerbated.  While it appears true that those who are victims of abuse truly understand those who are victims, this is not necessarily the case.  Remember, victims see things through a lens that is not necessarily grounded in accuracy, or even reality.  As a result, perceptions and hasty conclusions might skew what levels of relational understanding.  Repeating patterns are to be avoided at all cost.

Thanks for reading.  A discussion with a friend prompted this lengthy post.  I love people.  Anyone hurting from sexual abuse in their past, or present, is crying out to be loved.  May we all strive to do so in the right ways . . . And if WE are the ones struggling with the issues I presented above, may we find the love that will so complete each of us.

Thank you C. S. Lewis for showing ME the “way.”  May God heal our fractured, broken souls—whatever the causation and wherever they are broken.

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