Abuse – A matter in our own hands

Is it possible to make a change to the endemic levels of abuse in our society?

Abuse – A matter in our own hands

Abuse is a word synonymous with abhorrent self-interest, ruthless exploitation and evil acts against other humans, animals and our environment that are perpetuated with impunity. Be it genocide, tearing people from their homeland, public executions and de-humanising acts of torture, racial or religious intolerance, war, genital mutilation, sexism, child abuse, sexual abuse, rape, false imprisonment, public defamation and slavery, or the pillaging of our natural resources, we recognise these as just some of the acts of abuse that are everyday occurrences on our planet.

Abuse is a word that we often recoil from, saddened by our apparent inability as fellow humans to live together with at least a minimum of decency and respect. The seemingly deliberate reductionism and harm that is perpetrated towards others and ourselves is deeply concerning and often leaves us not knowing what the next steps are to support any change towards a humanity that does not harm one another.

Ignoring and brushing abuse under the proverbial carpet does not work – we cannot ignore it and it will not go away. We (all of humanity) have tried for millennia to ‘keep our heads down’, ‘mind our own business’ and pretend that abuse is not occurring, or that we are powerless to do anything about it. However, if we are frank, honest and observant, the quality of our society as a whole on this planet shows us that this has not worked and we all have our part to play in cleaning up the mess.

Abuse continues to destroy people’s lives, de-humanising, objectifying and reducing our fellow human beings to mere statistics without a face, no comeback, consigned to the waste heap of unfulfilled potential, a lifetime of victimhood and 'sad but unfortunate circumstance'.

Every life matters – and we reduce the sanctity of every one of us as human beings in the process of evaluating the quality of life on this planet only by our own experience, becoming desensitised and blind to the suffering and state of humanity as a whole.

To give an understanding of the global scale of reported abuse, 160 countries out of 195 have recorded human rights violations. During 2014, Amnesty International documented or received information from credible sources on specific human rights violations from 160 of these countries.[1]

Be aware that this is only what is recorded and reported globally and so simply the tip of the iceberg, as we know much is intentionally hidden and misreported concerning abuse. This statistic is a stark reality-check on the state of humanity as a whole. We have mass torture, ill treatment, corrupt justice systems, media, business and political systems as an everyday normal in most countries on this planet.

The state of humanity, the way that we treat each other and the planet we live on display the outcome of our cumulative choices – we see the world that we have all created.

Abuse is endemic in all levels of our societies, be it corruption in business, politics, the media, the legal system, bullying in schools, families and work, objectification of women, men or children, racism, everyday disparaging comments of ridicule on social media, gossip and defamation of a person’s character in the media.

And many of us – weary, worn down and apathetic – drop our heads and seek solace in anything that will distract us from having to face what is really happening in our lives and the lives of our fellow human beings.

We fail to realise or be honest about the fact that every choice concerning the toleration of abuse or act of abuse in our everyday lives, however apparently small, paves the way for more depraved, sinister and heinous acts of abuse.

We feed the monster so to speak, and recoil and hide away from its apparent ferociousness, although we have had a hand in creating it. What is it that will wake us up from our apparent inertia and ignorance, and be honest about how we begin to make a change, starting with our own part in it?

For example, when we wonder how an obviously corrupt, greedy, selfish, leader of a country (for example) can end up ‘leading and representing a nation’, we shake our heads and bemoan those at the top . . . but have we stopped to look around and be honest about what has been bolstering the system? Do we bring conscious awareness to what we consume by way of media, social media, entertainment, conversations, our choice to vote, our apathy, our hunger for so called short-term fixes, a 'comfortable' life, security and betterment at the expense of others?

The systems that many of us live in, calling ourselves 'lucky' to live in the so called 'developed world', have been directly established, fortified and gilded with blood, sweat, tears, subjugation, dehumanising abuse and the death of millions of unnamed human beings over the centuries. Our so called 'better life’ has been achieved not through superiority, chance or luck but through strategic, mercenary abuse and ruthless exploitation. And conveniently packaged and historically recorded as a timeline of the development of a civilised country to a 'better life'. Guilt will not alter history, but different choices will impact the future, so it is essential that we understand that every choice we make has a trajectory, an outcome and impact, and from that begin to make different choices that will develop a society where abuse is not normal.

We have a choice every day in what we condone, what we join in with, what we ignore, what we are complicit in through our silence, what we say no and yes to, and in every one of those choices we either feed the abusive behaviours so prevalent and normal within society and so normalise them in our lives – OR we offer another way.

Abuse is not just about a final outcome of an extreme behaviour or the acts of a few disturbed individuals reported in statistics, in the paper or social media. We like to finger point and sigh in relief that it has not happened to us or someone we know and yet in the same breath, rationalise and compartmentalise all of the harsh, selfish, less than transparent choices we are making when we think no one is looking, or undertake publicly in our life with the proviso that we only live once, I am hurt, that it is freedom of choice and expression, because ‘they deserve it’ and I am right and they are wrong.

The health of the whole society is a reflection for us to observe, consider and then do something about. We do not live in isolation and if we are not willing to understand that everything we choose matters and has an impact on everything and everyone else whether our door is closed or open, we are not going to become a more healthy and responsible society.

Abuse has control when we are silent; just like any bully when there is no challenge they behave with impunity. How many of us have heard or said a comment because we are hurt or angry; maybe it was sexist, sexually inappropriate, judgmental, hypocritical, racist or demeaning? Have we challenged them, joined in, turned our cheek or thought it was just a joke?

The so-called little remarks that we say in passing, or do not call out as inappropriate, add up and when we do not say ’no' we complicitly say ‘yes’. We collude using the rationale that it is not that bad, they didn’t mean it, or they deserve it, and so we have a low standard of common decency with our fellow human beings, but do we understand what we are then saying yes to? This is not about the poison of political correctness, the control and suffocation of hypocritical niceness – this is about authentic decency and respect. It is not just about sounding good but being authentic and respectful in all of the actions that come before and after every word we speak.

Every extreme behaviour that we see in society, that so many of us say we detest, begins in someone’s home.

Our children are informed by their relationships, the role models around them. How we behave as parents and adults in society matters: how we talk, what we consume in all ways informs us and those around us of what we consider to be normal and acceptable. If a child sees no challenge to abuse, and this includes seeing self-abusive acts role-modelled by parents, as they grow older they are very likely to either choose to abuse or fear abuse and so become a either the victim or the perpetrator of it.

These myriad moments and choices that we have every day add to the pool of behaviours in society. What we condone, tolerate, propagate and normalise through self-interest, a general lack of responsibility and care or no commitment to change anything can and do develop into horrific, disturbing acts of abuse.

A rape, or any other act of evil, does not occur in isolation, without a foundation – a foundation based on experience of an individual’s childhood, every interaction they have encountered, every experience in society and how they feel about themselves . . . yes, anyone who abuses in this way is absolutely responsible and should be held accountable, but the part we often neglect is our own responsibility in society when it comes to our relationships with everyone in our communities.

What has the power to shift and counter the abuse that is so endemic and normalised in our everyday lives? We can spend a lot of money on new initiatives, we can bomb a few more countries attempting to obliterate the so-called enemy, we can blame government, the education system, anyone who wasn't born in the country. Or we could have a good long sober honest look in the mirror and start from there: honesty – simple, raw, uncompromising honesty.

Honesty is a powerful tool that sheds light on habitual behaviours in society that for too long have had control through lies, fear, shame and silence cushioning their passage. The only way to make a change is to be honest, to counter it, call it out and say no and choose a different way. When we choose to bring honesty and responsibility to our everyday conversations, interactions, exchanges, behaviours and choices, we pave the way for a different everyday standard for us all.

We often feel overwhelmed by the prospect of true change occurring in society. We tend to think what can one person do in an ocean of outright lack of responsibility, harm and pain? The evil of abuse can seem too big and scary, but we need to cut its fuel supply.

Every one of us who stands up and makes different choices can have an impact on the whole of society. We all can play our part and have a part to play in calling out abuse and living in a responsible and decent way. And when we choose this the whole receives the benefits, and that is a society where abuse is not normal.

It starts with ourselves, committing to self-reflection, honesty and being aware of what we are bringing to life and being willing to do something about it. It is a matter of consistency, not perfection. There is no quick cure for this level of abuse, it takes steady responsible steps of care, accountability, honesty and responsibility. Let’s open our door and let the light in, shake that carpet, lift our nose over the fence and take a look around.

"We can only be truly saved through self-love. No-one else will save us, but ourselves with self-love. Begin to self-love and you will save yourself. That love will then, by Energetic Law, inspire another to save themselves. This is how it is and how it will be."

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations, Volume I, ed 1, p 700

A foundation at home lived with responsibility is a foundation that can evolve a healthy and respectful society. Change starts with ourselves; we must be self-reflective and honest about how we treat our own body, our self-talk, the way we move, what we eat, our emotions and that anything that is less than treating ourselves with love and care is self-abuse, which then allows us to accept and perpetrate abuse in all areas of society and perpetually erode and lower our standards which then further enables us as a humanity to continue to spiral into more extreme and harmful toxic behaviours.

It is likely that many of us have had encounters that have had a positive impact on our lives; moments and interactions that have brought sunshine, inspiration, trust, love and care into our lives. These moments, because of the magnitude of their power and reach can be a short conversation, however how we talk to people matters and when we offer respect, care and full attention with another they feel it. And it changes lives. This choice to be responsible, authentic, to listen and be respectful may sound old-fashioned, too easy, not innovative enough, but it is sorely missing and is the cornerstone of a healthy society.

Can we be that today with everyone we meet, regardless of what we get back, and so lead by example?

The measure of a life is not about what we get back in way of recognition and accolades, but rather the health and enrichment of our relationships, with all others, but also with ourselves.

This choice to be decent, responsible, respectful
and honest can turn the tide.

The matter is in our hands.


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  • Photography: Matt Paul