In our world today we have several civil rights issues plastered all over our newspapers, social media and televisions. Some include the recent news of separating immigrant families at the border, pro-life issues, unfair treatment from police toward different races and the list goes on. One movement that I believe has changed my perspective and has tugged at my heart the most is the #MeToo movement.
It is a movement that exposes sexual harassment and misconduct and helps to support its victims. Even though it gained most of its speed and relevance in 2017, I believe it is still a prevalent movement that is necessary. It gives a voice to the silent, especially when they feel they don’t have one. The movement exploded with astonishing amounts of sexual harassment and assault accusations against men in positions of power, starting with Harvey Weinstein. In response to all these stories, the #MeToo movement started a fire from the spark, becoming a viral hashtag in October 2017. At first it surprised me how many women were coming forward and claiming to have gone through these horrendous acts. Even though the movement inspired some to feel justified it caused me to initially feel that hope is lost in humanity. I kept asking, “How could someone do this to another human being?”
Over the next couple of months I contemplated the reason for all this darkness coming to the forefront of media and news. I realized that to fight for justice we must first know what is unjust. This outlet was created when Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist, founded the MeToo movement. She started the movement back in 2006, to raise awareness of sexual abuse. The hashtag, #MeToo, has become a way for everyone to express on social media their stories and thoughts on sexual misconduct.
The #MeToo movement has opened a door to an issue that affects everyone in some way whether you know it or not. According to national statistics, one in four women and one in six men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. These staggering numbers mean you have a good chance of knowing someone who has been sexually assaulted in some way, whether they tell you or not.
I personally know someone who endured sexual assault as a young boy. This horrible event has skewed his view of sexuality and leads him to not trust people easily. He also pointed out a sad statistic that states 60-70 percent of victims know their abuser, like him. The #MeToo movement was not prominent at the time for him, but we agree that it is a world-changing movement happening at the right time for millions of other victims.
The question I ask myself now is how am I called to respond to this movement as a Catholic? I try to remember that God is in control of everything and will transform these seemingly hopeless situations into lessons and calls to action.
I hope that I can react the same as Tarana when I come across injustices by creating a no-tolerance movement. Even if I can’t create a movement, I can at least create an attitude that does not stand for injustice in my own community. I also cannot forget to bring my intentions and prayers to God, similar to how these women are bringing attention to their struggles. I know I can get bogged down when there are excessive amounts of negativity in the media so I strive to surround myself with reminders that God is alive and working through us.
I frequently find myself listening to music to meditate on ideas like those. The song “Surrounded” by Michael W. Smith is one of my favorites to listen to when I am trying to understand why so much injustice happens or if I am going through personal struggles. In the song, one of the phrases that jumps out to me the most is “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.”
Even though we are surrounded by evil we must remember we are called to be aware and stop injustices happening among God’s creation. One of the beatitudes from Matthew 5:3-10 states “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
After realizing how I am called to action by God, I have challenged myself to be more convicted and stand up for those who are silenced, mistreated and broken, and become a peacemaker for God.
Olivia Parker is a freshman at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Her home parish is Immaculate Conception in North Little Rock.
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