I have not been following the Jian Ghomeshi versus CBC drama.

I have been aware from the headlines as they passed that something was going on and have been brought up to date with some of the twists and turns of this complex story through various conversations. But, until now I have avoided reading articles or getting into the sordid details of this difficult drama.

But, I can rarely resist a headline that promises “The Real Take Away Message From….” just about anything. So, when Chad Pelley’s piece “The Real Take Away Message from the News about Jian Ghomeshi” at “The Overcast” flashed up on my FaceBook page, I felt compelled to click on the link: http://theovercast.ca/real-take-away-message-news-jian-ghomeshi/.

Regardless of the guilt or innocence of Jian Ghomeshi or the CBC, Pelley makes an important point when he writes,

even with our best intentions, I, we, most of us, still don’t know how to address the issue that women are keeping silent about sexual assault because of our judgements on them for speaking up about it, or even, for not speaking up about it….. The bigger story is that the 4 women making the allegations will not go on the record, because we the public already have the audacity to tell them how to feel about what’s happened to them, and even worse, what their actions did to a man who might indeed have assaulted  them.

It is important to be clear here. Mr. Pelley is  absolutely not saying that determining guilt or innocence is irrelevant. He is not saying we should turn a blind eye to violence against women. He is certainly not saying perpetrators of violence should be protected from full scrutiny and punishment if and when they are determined by judicial process to be guilty.

What Mr. Pelley is saying is that “victim silence” is deadly. It is deadly first and most importantly for the victim who remains locked away from any possibility of healing by the perceived need to keep secrets. But it is deadly also for the perpetrator who never has to confront the reality of their actions, and for society which is sheltered from the reality of our failure to create a social environment in which it is possible for anyone to speak about harm they perceive from any source.

Ephesians 4:15 instructs Christians that,

speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way.

We grow up by “speaking the truth in love.” Secrets, lies, and stories that are silenced, bind the community in immature relationships and destroy the lifeblood of human connection.

As a man and as the father of two daughters and the grand-father of three grand-daughters, I do not ever want any woman to feel that she is unable to speak clearly and boldly about what she perceives to be the impact of anyone’s behaviour in her life. We perpetrate terrible violence when we create an environment in which victims feel their only hope for safety is in remaining hidden.

I want to be part of a community in which everyone feels free to speak their deepest truth. I want to participate in human relationships that are characterized by openness, honest and authenticity. I want to be part of a culture where shame, blame, neurotic guilt, and manipulation find no place.

Only those who would do violence are protected by silence. So, the safety of all depends upon our determination that everyone might feel equally empowered to speak without fear the truth they experience.