Yes, Mr. Mourdock, Life is a Gift
I want to be balanced and objective in writing this piece. I cannot. My life and the lives of many that I love have been affected by sexual violence. So, we’ll just call this an opinion piece and I suggest that it contains thoughts that are running through my mind after reading Mr. Mourdock’s statements in the debate.
The Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Indiana, Richard Mourdock, has joined other far-right Republicans in defining God, God’s will and morals for the rest of us. In a debate on Tuesday, Mr. Mourdock said, ”I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.”
I would suggest that others struggle with these issues as well. Especially the victims of violent crime and the only people who have a voice to me in these matters are the victims.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Mourdock apologized and said that he was sorry if people misinterpreted his comments.
On some level, I am heartened that political candidates speak to their beliefs. I’d rather a candidate be open about what he or she believes than hide the same in an effort to win office.
People do hold very different versions of God and God’s will. As long as their interpretation does not interfere with my interpretation, I see no harm in hearing them out. But when politicians who hold office believe that their version of their God is shared by all or that they hold a right and pre-ordained destiny to ensure that their God’s will is posted onto the lives of the rest of us, I begin to grow increasingly uncomfortable.
I know many people in my life who have been harmed – physically, sexually and emotionally – by others. My husband’s family produced a documentary, Boyhood Shadows, that focuses on the sexual abuse that was perpetrated against my husband’s brother. Glenn is an amazing man. We share many laughs and many strong talks about life. I love him. In my own family, there was sexual, physical and emotional abuse throughout or family tree.
Ask any victim, especially victims of sexual rape or sexual abuse, the number one recurring theme that works itself through their minds and they will tell you, “Somehow, I was at fault.”
And if you talk to victims, you’ll often hear their struggles to understand why God would allow these things to happen to them. What have they done to deserve it? Did they need to be and do better?
The problem with religious thoughts that suggest that victims of violent crimes are pawns in God’s game, is that it devalues life for those who have been affected. It essentially says that there is a caste system in our culture and that some of us are disposable, because God would will it so.
My God doesn’t tell me these things.
My God tells me that there is an enormous amount of pain that humans inflict on one another and that He/She plays no role in that pain. My God also tells me that children, women and men who have been harmed by nature or by man are not pawns and they are not disposable.
My God tells me that he doesn’t punish.
My God tells me that he doesn’t cause harm.
My God serves to heal. He serves to help those who have been affected. But he doesn’t cause the pain.
Women are not placed on this earth to serve man or to serve a role in God’s greater plan. Nor are children. We are equals. I believe it with all of my heart and soul and I believe that my God tells me it is so.
When people say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” I bristle. Often, events that are too difficult to process, kill. And often, people are walking dead. They live their lives in fear and full of anxiety because of the actions of others.
When people say, “There must be a reason…there is a reason for everything,” I want to shout. “No, there is no reason for rape or child abuse. The only reason is that as humans we hold the ability to harm others.”
And people say, “You are stronger because of your past.” Certainly there are those who hold more resilience than others, but who is to say what might have been for the victims of violence, had these events not been placed in their path.
I believe that those who make it out of these events are always affected. Good people make a life inspite of these bad events, not because of…
I would tell the candidate from Indiana that I am grateful that we do not share the same vision of God, because I believe in the value of all people, of all sexes and of every color. And I do not believe in a God who would will harm to others.
And no, children who are raped should not be forced to continue a pregnancy. Women who are raped should not be forced by law – because of a politician’s version of God – to have a child. The only role that government or religion should play in those situations is to offer support in order to help the victim reach a decision that is best for them.
But yes, where I do agree with Mourdock is that life is a gift for all of us.
And as my brother-in-law Glenn says in Boyhood Shadows, “A guy fucking steals your life.” We don’t need victims to think that God doesn’t value their lives at all.
Politicians, it is enough. Enough, enough, enough.
And a clip of my always and forever good friend, Glenn, in Boyhood Shadows.