How Powerless are YOU?
Those of us who have never known real hunger or homelessness often fail to see how powerful we are.
Perhaps we have experienced powerlessness for a period of time in our lives, when we were either victims of crime or acute discrimination. Certainly we know class discrimination or gender discrimination in very personal ways--either we've experienced this personally or someone in our family or close circle of friends has. So it's easy to forget that we are still powerful people, compared to most in the world.
If we live in a democracy that allows freedom of speech, that's a form of power. Yes, freedom brings a degree of power. We can use that power for good or cause much pain in what we say or do. There are limits, but we do have the immense power to speak our minds.
Those who live without freedom of speech do not often realize the degree of oppression that envelops their lives. Even as an American, I was not in touch with just how much I was weighing what I said in public when I lived in Malawi, back in the late 70's and 80's. We had to be careful, even when speaking to closest friends. Or writing letters. Certainly on the telephone, where the government might be eavesdropping! It was against the law to speak about the condition of the nation, the oppression of the people, and certainly anything the least bit negative about the dictator who forced people to "worship" him in grand parades for propaganda purposes!
Only when I got to Kenya, where freedom of speech was much greater, did I catch myself as I ridiculously looked over my shoulder before speaking! It was as if my feet were out of shackles!! I had the power to speak freely for the first time in years!!! It was like a breath of fresh air, suddenly rushing in so strongly, that this moment is forever etched in my memory!
So if you are thinking that you are totally powerless, stop to consider this idea. Speak up for yourself and others, especially for those who have no voice in the darkest corners of our world. Whatever the cause, consider that you are a person of power--even if you are speaking to people with far more power who may not be interested in listening. Find multiple causes. Find new words. Just speak your mind and forget about needing more power.
Posted by Dee Ann Miller
at 8:01 AM CST
The Keys to the Kingdom Come
"If you don't leave me alone, I'll send you to Kingdom Come." Those were words I heard frequently, growing up. Spoken by someone annoyed by a human pest. It was a crude way of joking in my world, back before anyone took scuffling on the playground very seriously. I never saw anyone go on to act on the threat. In fact, people who talked like this--at least in my world--didn't misuse strength or power. They just threw their proverbial weight around.
Neither did I stop to think what the words literally might mean. I'm not sure the speakers even did.
Kingdom Come, like the Kingdom of God, was understood in my world to mean "the here-after." The theological assumption being that we go to a new kingdom. Kingdom Come could be a wonderful place, known to Christians as "the Kingdom of God." Or a place of horror. Heaven or hell--those were the two alternatives.
The Kingdom of God was not considered to be a place on earth, theologically, by the people I knew as a child. It still isn't to so many. It was just some place we hoped to be--someday in the here-after.
What if we started integrating our thinking on the Kingdom of God to make it equivalent to a better world? It would be a new, much more positive way of defining "Kingdom Come." A place where there would be no more war, no famines, and a willingness to share the riches that are so greedily held by present kingdoms (ie. corporations, institutions, as well as corrupt political powers).
A sharing of resources. A levelling of power. A much lesser emphasis on pure capitalism. A way for individuals at all levels, as well as organized "kingdoms" to espouse the concept of "creative capitalism" as opposed to "consumer capitalism" that is currently operating, but failing more and more.
To get a better idea of the Old Order that we have thought of as "just the way it is," compared to what would happen if we all began to act with a new vision, please go to http://baneromics.blogspot.com/2011/02/consumer-capitalism-paradox.html
Such a place was, of course, foreign in Jesus' day. As much as today. Yet, I'm convinced that it was a big part of what Jesus was describing when he tried to show us the Kingdom of God.
Tomorrow I want to show you some small ways that you may choose to enact these principles into your daily life, empowering others as you recognize your own power.
Posted by Dee Ann Miller
at 8:37 AM CST
Updated: Thu 01/05/2012 8:46 AM CST
Aspirations of Reaching Out
Money is power. Status is power. So is education and skill. Nobuko Oyabu's power and passion were working together to lead her toward worlds unknown when I first met her in 2002.
So was grief and the emotional trauma from all she had experienced in the past year. The fact that the power and passion shined through over the grief and trauma made a mind-boggling impression on me.
Weeks later, she was in my living room, honoring me as her first subject for a photo to be included in her book Stand. Within months, she was on a Lifetime TV documentary, after having used her own funds to travel thousands of miles to photograph others. A book was in the making that would give faces to the taboo subject of sexual violence. Just as the world already had seen with breast cancer.
Once the book was published in Japanese and Nobuko had been to Washington D. C., spoken at many colleges and in her native country of Japan, one would think that would have been plenty to celebrate. Nobuko was far from satisfied!
How devastated she was when I heard from her last year, right after the earthquake hit Japan. I was glad to know that her family was safe, but so sad to know that many of her friends were not. Nobuko had been planning to do another advocacy trip in the hardest-hit area. She still was trying to figure out how to go in spite of the tsunamis! She wrote: "In Fukushima city, I am going to meet with the #2 person in its police department to see what their needs are in terms of sexual violence survivors support." Nobuko was most concerned about a friend who had been so instrumental in raising consciousness within government circles.
Last month, she made another trip it and found a hearing in Parliament!! In her own words, you have the report:
"They have to redefine the definition of sexual asault on their constitution first (women are only victim and no rape without penetration... ridiculous!!)
and I hope I pushed hard on it this time!
Anyway, I have a favor to ask you today.
I have just launched fundraising for my project STAND on Kickstarter site.
The fund raised on this site is for finishing a chapter of the project by revisiting the survivors I photographed 10 years ago and rephotograph them.
The new photo and the old will display side by side with captions of now and then. That's how this book ends... if it ever becomes a book.
I hoping to visit you, too!
What's in the future after the project?
I will move on to the new chapter of the project which will be geared toward the victims of human trafficking and sex slavely in the global societies.
Could you please take a look at below link and let me know what you think?
If it's OK, could you pass it on to your friends who would be interested in pitching in?
Anyone can pitch in and participate as little as $10 through this site.
There you have it! POWER WORKING ITS WAY TOWARD PROGRESS--all through a humble lady I am proud to call "my friend."
Your donations will further empower her. Please consider it.
Posted by Dee Ann Miller
at 8:32 AM CST
Updated: Wed 01/04/2012 10:00 AM CST
Twenty-five years ago, I was knee-deep in the trenches. Speaking truth to a powerful, abusive government deep in the heart of Africa. My passion was to be a catalyst, making individuals in that system to recognize ways they could address the heartaches of daily existence for the people I had gone to serve.
Malawi was filled with refugees who had fled the war in Mozambique. The population had an extremely high rate of illiteracy. Malnutrition was so severe that it was difficult to find a woman who had not lost at least one child due to this disease of poverty. Alcoholism was draining the economy. An increasing recognition of the problem of AIDS was just being acknowledged by a government that had never allowed sex education in any form!
Corruption and suppression of truth permeated the fabric of that society, making the problems of our own nation look like a Sunday afternoon picnic!!!
How my heart was torn, along with the heart of my husband, when speaking the truth about a sexually- abusive missionary colleague became so threatening to my co-workers and superiors that we were forced to resign in order to keep our voices! It has been a long, challenging detour.
Now, after years of speaking to larger audiences, writing, and maintaining a site that has served as a lighthouse to thousands, I am finding myself circling back with increased frequency to international causes--just one of which is the issue of sexual violence in countries where human trafficking is so rampant and laws so much more primitive than most Westerners can even imagine.
The same principles I've written about for years, many that I learned while speaking in the halls of abusive government offices far away, will continue to be my passion as a writer. Yet, only a small percentage of that writing will be addressing the problems of sexual violence in developing countries, Western civilizations or not.
My yearning to address the larger purposes of speaking truth to power has been re-awakened. So I will be introducing readers to organizations and individuals that can help those of us with greater power or economic means to make a difference beyond our own borders.
Tomorrow, I'll introduce you to one who is courageously speaking in Japan. She just happens to be addressing issues of sexual violence in her native land while having great visions of much more.
Posted by Dee Ann Miller
at 12:01 AM CST
No Time Table for Institutional Change Either
Naive, inexperienced speakers often believe that institutions change as soon as truth is spoken. Especially if the institution broadcasts one of it's highest values as being Truth.
If you are reading this blog, chances are you are like many of us who ran up against the shocking brick walls of resistance to change when we boldly spoke, expecting to be heard. Yet how easy it is to slip back into naivety when the door is cruelly slammed again and again.
The other ditch is apathy, born of skepticism, because one is convinced that changing people in power is hopeless. Neither ditch is going to get any of us anywhere. Diitches just keep us stuck.
The good news: People in power have to work EXTRA hard to keep things the same in the age of technology. It's harder to put up smokescreens in places like Egypt or Pakistan. Just as difficult in enormous stateside institutions like Penn State or the Catholic Church.
The scary part: Changes aren't always as good as we set out to believe. Institutions, like individuals, serve to do both good and evil. There is a tipping point, but it's hard to know just where that is until it's too late. That's what so much of the fight for institutional integrity is about when it comes to the banking system of the United States.
Journalism continues to play a big part. We look to the experts to make predictions while we wait, as skeptics, wondering how much on target even the experts will be. http://www.niemanlab.org/category/predictions-2012/
How exciting to be alive during this era of a more level playing field! As we anticipate change and how we can contribute to it, it's fun to see a small, ordinary voice break through to create pause for all of us. A voice like Emma Sullivan http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/11/tweeting-kansas-teen-wont-apologize-to-gov-her-following-soars/
It's the culmination of many such pauses that stir entire cultures to eventually stand up and be heard--in this day faster than in the past--to speak powerful truths to institutional and political power.
Posted by Dee Ann Miller
at 8:59 AM CST
Darkness to Light
The dropping of the ball in Times Square illuminates the very second when we imagine a sudden new and powerful beginning to everything. Is this yet another illusion? After all, what's the difference between the last second of one year and the first second of the next. The change is just about how we mark time, isn't it?
We like to think that it's also a change inside us, that suddenly all that has transpired in the past fades away in importance. We have a clean slate. We compare life to a new baby, just starting out without any baggage.
Oh, that it were that simple!
Truth is that the moments of change don't come in neatly-spaced periods of twelve months. They occur by a developmental time-table, according to psychologists who have clearly defined how "normal people" grow and development toward adulthood and go on to proceed through our "adult" years through stages. Each level or stage brings "tasks." It's all scheduled. How simple it looks on paper!
"My life has been rather boring," I've often heard. This statement often comes from people who fit the mold. They manage to rock on from birth to death without many earth-shaking moments.
If that's "normal," I dare say that the vast majority of earth's inhabitants are NOT normal!! While each of us has a unique set of challenges, some far more than others, very few really fit the smooth, theoretical time-tables. Our lives are defined as much by the tidal waves that come and wash away things we once took for granted.
When all things become new through trauma, especially childhood trauma, something beastly can take control of our thinking. The soul is shattered.
That's what Peter Pellulo experienced when he was violently assaulted by two teenaged predators during a brief period of life, fifty years before he began understanding the power of that soul-shattering moment.
Yet Peter went on to be a man of enormous power and wealth, even before he awakened. This is what makes his story so unusual, out of all the stories I've read. Yes, in spite of being a very successful businessman and, by all appearances, a devoted family man, he was living a lie with the power to destroy all that he held dear.
Because of his resources, Peter was able to have at his disposal some of the most skilled therapists and to generously share what he has learned to enlighten others much less fortunate. Not only can it bring comfort to survivors, it adds to the knowledge-base of professionals and those in the general public who are truly trying to further understand what we have learned these past few decades about childhood trauma. He does all of this through the telling of his story (see www.betrayalandthebeast.com ).
Any story, once told, takes on a power of it's own. This one has enormous potential because of who Peter Pellulo already was before the secret was revealed. This story cannot be easily ignored. Because of it's telling, many others have been able to do their own powerful storytelling! See www.letgoletpeacecomein.org
Only one thing concerns me--the future of each of these story-tellers. Starting with Peter's future.
For telling the story is only the beginning. How much power comes from each story depends not on the past, but on how the new-found power of the story-teller is recognized and channeled with each new challenge that life brings.
Organizations come and go, often because of the mis-use of power. All too often this happens with survivor groups.
I'm certain that there will be many more "new days" for Peter, his family, and this organization. I hope and pray that each one brings greater opportunity to shed new light into the lives of many. I have no reason to believe that it won't.
Posted by Dee Ann Miller
at 10:08 AM CST
Updated: Mon 01/02/2012 1:48 PM CST
The Illusion of Power
We've all heard of the illusion of control. Simply put, it means that we just think we are in control of everything and everybody around us. Sounds nice, doesn't it?
Of course, nobody can control everything all at once. Life is filled with unknowns. We share control with others on this planet, like it or not. That includes the people who care more about causing trouble than not.
Some people believe that God is in control of everything. I was raised on that theology. Many I know still espouse this. Today, I understand God to be a spirit, available to every human being. Only if we were all perfect and constantly in tune with the Spirit would God be in perfect control of humanity. We are not puppets! God is not pulling our strings!
Of course, if you believe that God literally sends plagues and natural disasters, then there is no room for the element of chance. "Everything happens for a reason," we frequently hear.
By contrast, I believe that there are many things that do happen by chance. Not everything is a part of "God's plan." Nature just goes amuck quite frequently in spite of the fact that it usually does not. Accidents happen. Not all illness is man-made, as some self-appointed "authorities" would have you believe. Things just aren't that simple. We don't need simple explanations for every complex problem that comes along. In fact, simple explanations get in the way of truth!! Yet we do well to seek ways of making a higher purpose out of the nonsense that comes our way.
Peter Pellulo, in his book Betrayal and the Beast www.betrayalandthebeast.com , reveals a common illusion for survivors who have yet to face reality. Though I've never heard anyone use the term "illusion of power," I dare say that's exactly what it is. Very similar to the illusion of control.
Under the false assumption that, by being in control, he was more powerful than the demons within him, Peter's addiction (in this case sexual addiction) was able to thrive. The truth couldn't be spoken because it was so well hidden--not just from Peter, but from all he knew. Like the little kid who experienced violent sexual abuse decades earlier, Peter had a need to feel more powerful than he actually was, even as an adult. His powerlessness was just too scary!
The powerful secret he was afraid to speak was in control of the person (ie. Peter) who was most interested in keeping the secret. Yet, once he realized this, Peter was empowered to work for change--not just for himself but for many others!
Posted by Dee Ann Miller
at 4:58 PM CST
Updated: Fri 12/30/2011 9:59 PM CST
The Impossible Task of Weighing the Risk
Anyone who dares speak truth to power would do well to know the risk involved with speaking. There's just one problem--knowing the risk with certainty is impossible. Yes, there are just too many unknown's. It is truly an act of faith.
Whether you see it as an act of faith in God, an act of faith in the future, an act of faith in the process or in all three of these, I'm convinced that it is absolutely vital that the speaker somehow be empowered to also have faith in herself/himself to endure the unknown consequences. It's a tall order for a person who has been made to feel so small and defeated for years!
It also helps to have a dose of apathy. The personal consequences become less important than keeping the secret. One has to become more afraid of living with what one knows for certain than of facing the unknown set of surprises that comes when Pandora's box is open! One has to believe in the power of the truth more than in the fear of speaking it.
Somehow that's what the Penn State survivors have all done, each in their own time. Each time they contemplate speaking to anyone, they have to take stock once again.
They have been empowered by the media. Yet they have also had reason to fear what the media and others will do with them and their words.
A couple of weeks before the Penn State story broke, I was contacted by Peter Pelullo, founder of 'Let Go…Let Peace Come In, Foundation,' in anticipation of the release of his new book Betrayal and the Beast. Peter asked me to consider reviewing his book before its publication. I was honored and glad that I could make time to do so. You will find my endorsement if you simply scroll on down the page www.betrayalandthebeast.com that introduces you to the book and the amazing notoreity that Peter has already received because of his empathetic work of advocacy and personal support for the Penn State victims.
Tomorrow, I will tell you something about why Pelullo was able to find the courage and power to speak of the horrors, as well as the process of healing that he has experienced because of violent child sexual abuse himself.
Posted by Dee Ann Miller
at 8:17 PM CST
Young Lady Stands Her Ground Here in Kansas
How thrilled I am to be in Lawrence, a city where speaking one's mind seems to be refreshingly welcome. It's an oasis in the desert of suppression that permeates so much of Kansas!
A few weeks ago, a high school student--female, at that--was able to turn power on it's head here in Kansas.
If you haven't heard the story, or even if you have, you may want to read this abc news blog http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/11/tweeting-kansas-teen-wont-apologize-to-gov-her-following-soars/
Thanks to the courage of Emma Sullivan, we should all be inspired to claim what is rightfully ours. Our voice, that is. This freedom carries with it a power that every individual deserves.
I keep wondering what this young lady is capable of accomplishing in the years to come. Seems to me, the sky is her limit!
Sullivan's story shows that, through such courage, sometimes one individual CAN make a big impression that humbles those in places of great political power.
Posted by Dee Ann Miller
at 4:51 PM CST
Life's Challenges Provide New Insights
Christmas came early at our house! A power wheelchair for my husband! Yet I'm as glad to see it as he is. It makes life easier and gives us the freedom to go more places. The chair is just one of the positives in what has been a most challenging two years, since I last posted an entry on this blog.
Those two years have brought adjustment after adjustment, involving: several hospitalizations for Ron, the death of Ron's mother, the loss of one of his best friends to cancer, and the near-loss of the other best friend, who is waiting in hope of a new, life-saving liver and kidney, as I tried to stand by and offer support and carry on the routine that I had for years. This blog was just one of those routines that I so enjoyed.
During the two years, we have made two major moves, the last one a very positive one for which we have been working and planning for years.
Only weeks after hanging the last picture, we learned why Ron was again going downhill, just when we thought he was ready to roll. The news that he was already far into the process of becoming paraplegic, due to a rare condition of the spinal cord, really took the wind out of our sails!! We reached far into ourselves and found what we knew was already there--the power to take charge of our lives as we searched for new resources.
Despite the shocking diagnosis and prognosis, we have had so many empowering gifts, including some of you dear readers.
New friends have helped sustain us, added to family and friends we've had for years--each providing a unique blend of encouragement, support, and a willingness to help us adapt to a new lifestyle that has forced us to slow down, reset priorities, and find ways to move forward.
The tangible gifts came in the form of equipment. Most were gifts to ourselves. We dug deep and found ways to make it happen. In the process, we have gained a deep, new understanding of the very limited power that so many other-abled people, already living in poverty, face each day. Ron has pledged to regain his independence as quickly as possible so that he can devote his life to empowering this group through advocacy. This will be his new ministry here in this welcoming city of Lawrence, KS. He's already started networking a lot to see where he can plug in.
This new addition to our household is remarkable. Weighing in at 400 pounds, it has a way of gaining respect wherever it goes. No wonder they call it a power chair!! What a smile it has brought to both of us! Hills that would have been foreboding only weeks ago are no longer threatening. Ron actually had to stop one day and wait for me to catch up!
Oh, that we could so quickly reverse the institutional power imbalances that so many of us have encountered!
Posted by Dee Ann Miller
at 1:26 PM CST
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