Is Lady Liberty an abused spouse?

10-07-2012Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Is Lady Liberty an abused spouse?

One of the dynamics that often is present when a spouse is abused is that the abused believes (wrongly) that the abuse is their fault. Abusers are very good at convincing their victims that somehow the fault lies in their behavior not the abuser’s behavior. So in effect an abuser is saying to a victim “you brought this on yourself”. So the victim spends her time apologizing and trying her best to placate her abuser. The victim then will often go out of her way to not make waves or do anything that would set the abuser off. But even when the victim is behaving “perfectly” an abuser will cleverly set the victim up to provoke a reaction so that he can inflict more physical, mental or emotional abuse. This is just the sad cycle of abuse and if it is not broken victims can wind up dead.

In the case at hand it is not an abused spouse but our nation that we are watching being abused. The terrorists attack on our embassy in Libya and the response of US Officials is nothing more than how an abused spouse blames herself for her abuse. Watching video of our Ambassador to Libya being dragged through the streets of Benghazi and listening to the mea culpa's from the State Department and White House paints an accurate picture of how abuse typically works. Somehow it is our fault we're told, whether because of a provocative video clip on You Tube or a false perception of a lack of sensitivity on the US part towards Islam. Like an abused spouse we can't seem to admit that domestic abuse or in this case international terrorism, no matter what is always wrong. So we walk on eggshells hoping not to set off another spasm of irrational violence.

Just like an abused spouse who believes "if I am just a better wife, housekeeper, cook or mother he won't abuse me" it seems our country has bought the delusion that if we are just nicer, more respectful of Islam in the middle east then they will like us and not attack us. And like the abused spouse, no matter how hard we try the abuse continues.

Most of us have not been abused simply because we would not tolerate it. One episode of abuse and we would be out the door. No guilt, no feeling that it was our fault or that we deserved it. That is the sign of a psychologically and emotionally healthy individual. Likewise our country's leaders should not tolerate or apologize for terrorism. But then again look who is Secretary of State and look at what she has tolerated in her marriage… Any wonder this has gone on so long. It's one thing to own our part in this problem another to assume it is our entire fault and relieve the other side of any culpability.

Rather than standing up for ourselves, our government's response has been to air a TV commercial in Pakistan that apologizes for the YouTube video clip, and have the maker of the video arrested. In the meantime not a word is said about the Christians in the middle-east, in Pakistan, in India and most especially in Nigeria that are being slaughtered and their Church's bombed at the hands of Islamists. Apparently in the mind of the US State Department standing up for Jews and Christians just instigates terrorism.

When you consider all the hostility directed towards Christians in our country (see the new Pew Research on the rising Restrictions on Religion), all the provocations, the insulting "art" (such as "Piss Christ" or the Virgin Mary covered over with vaginas) or the disrespectful Hollywood films about Christianity, or the HHS Mandate or the myriad lawsuits demanding no prayer at High School sporting events or religious symbols in the public square or the mention of a Deity during Legislative sessions and the lack of defense on the part of our government for respect for Christianity, what's the message?

It seems to be that in order to garner any respect we need to act like park apes, show up with rocket-propelled grenades and burn the house down so to speak. It works for the radical Islamists. So is that our only course of action? Emotionally we might want it to be but spiritually that is not who we are. Our defense of Christianity will come only from the strength of our moral witness. One thing Martin Luther King Jr. showed us is that you can subvert an entire system without raising a fist if you have moral truth on your side.

Practically this means standing up for who we are, what we believe in and not giving into compromise or some false notion that if we just go along then everything will be all right or that if we just give them what they want they will leave us alone. "Going along" has helped Christians become second-class in society. We gave them what they wanted in domestic partnerships/civil unions and they still won't leave us alone. Apologizing for our beliefs has narrowed our ability to practice those beliefs. Trying to placate our society by being silent on serious moral issues only gives power to those who want to trample on our moral values.

It is time to stand up for ourselves and our beliefs. Jesus promised that the moral force of a believing Christian is enough in the end to disarm an enemy. But the more we believe we did something to "deserve" all this hostility and abuse the more we empower our adversaries and the quicker the descent into depravity for our society.

Even though our Constitution is still standing, our rights are intact, if we do not exercise them they will in the end be unable to save us from ourselves.


Fr. John Bonavitacola