This Is the Hand: A Response to Recent News

By Carolita Johnson October 26, 2017


This simple cartoon truly struck me, on several levels. The first is perhaps the most obvious, and that is, what the hell is wrong with these men and other men and all men who do this kind of shit to women, kids, people!?!?!

The second thought is a bit more complicated.


Because, as Sherman Alexie says when talking about a man in his tribe who was known to have raped and murdered and why he was never accused was because "he mimics proper human behavior . . . Because he speaks a little bit of the tribal language. Because he genuflect and prays in front of large crowds. Because he wears beads and feathers every day of the year. Because he plays the role of traditional Indian better than most. Because he proclaims himself holy and is superficially believed" (pg 178).

We want to believe the best in people, to hope in people, even when we know better, because we want to believe and hope in ourselves. That our faults and sins and terrible mistakes won't define or restrict us. We want to believe the best in others because we want others to believe the best about ourselves. So we gloss and paint and cover up our sins and allow the monster of superficiality to live and breath and grow and finally devour. 

One of my new favorite podcasts, The Liturgists, says this about themselves, "We believe that beauty is the heart and perhaps primary truth of the Gospel. If it's not beautiful, it's not worth speaking of or working on." And although a large part of me wants to embrace this way of life and living, another bigger part of me rejects it. Because it seems a bit superficial.

In Arthur Miller's, The Crucible, John Proctor states, "We are only what we always were, but naked now." This seems accurate for today as well.

In the coming weeks and months, we should expect many more accusations of a similar kind towards politicians, athletes, comedians, church leaders, community leaders, CEO's, parents, extended family, neighbors and from every nook and cranny of this dark and complicated world because although life and humanity are beautiful and absolutely worth celebrating, it is also hard and cruel and absolutely broken.

Cutting off the hand of the man that reached and touched won't cloth and cover the sins and devastation of the world. Neither will silence. 

As Sherman Alexie says, "victims have learned, on the reservation and everywhere else, that is is more painful and dangerous to testify than it is to silently grieve." 

Because, "on the reservation," as it is everywhere else, "testifiers are shunned and exiled."

"On the reservation," as it is everywhere else, "silence become the tribal ceremony that everybody performs" (pg 178)."

And so the hand reaches. Because it knows it can. Because it knows we'll be silent. 

But not anymore.

And may that be the new proper human behavior.


For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On Living  :   On Tolerance