Dee's Blog
Wed 11/14/2007
Protecting Our Souls

Church leaders have pet stories that they like to use. Some are Bible stories. Often they are stories about some well-known case like Cardinal Bernadine in Chicago, where they want to show that the outcome of the story showed quite clearly and credibly that there was a false accusation. That story becomes the “poster story” or character who is held up as the hero.

Dare I say that survivors are often known to do the same thing. OK--please don’t run away before you hear me out. Putting the most hideous of perpetrators up on the “screen” and pointing to that “poster perpetrator” as the typical can work either for or against change.

The enemies that we call perpetrators, we know, are not easy to spot nor to nail down for many reasons. In fact, that’s what the establishment would like to believe. I find it ironic and sometimes humorous that I have been asked so many times by journalists or talk show hosts to give some magical way to identify a perpetrator. Truth is that they are embedded, just as the terrorists who destroyed so many lives on 9/11.

Profiling in order to try to identify the enemy leads us to target large groups, filled with many people who may have some odd beliefs but wouldn’t think of committing abuse or violence.  I hear it frequently with "all males...." statements even, from women I might otherwise agree with.  I hear it in "all clergy....." statements and have the same reaction.  Even when talking about groups who call themselves by certain names, I can make that mistake myself.  There are degrees or exceptions, even if they are rare.

These profiled groups or people who just have a paranoia that the "world is against US, and you are one of the world" can feel so threatened by “outsiders” even though the "outsiders" may actually share many of the values of the group otherwise.  The "insiders" typically are unwilling to look at the deeper issues that need a re-examination before the group can feel safe enough to hold accountable the perpetrators.

Issues like patriarchy and exclusiveness, to name only two. When it comes down to it, there are so many issues that splinter us in our world--especially our larger world that is far beyond the borders of Western civilization--that it is hard to stay focused long enough to change anything. That’s certainly a problem for me, and I suspect it is for you.

In our idealism, we lose sight of the larger picture. We fail to see what is truly going to destroy our souls.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Mon 11/05/2007 10:49 AM CST
Tue 11/13/2007
The Wise and the Harmless
Topic: Aliens

Rights--that’s a word that sometimes baffles people in Europe where "responsibility" is considered to be a more important word.  That's what a British clergywoman recently told me.

Sometimes I wonder if my soul is still planted more in Europe than America, though I appreciate the ideas of both rights and responsibilities. Our European friends often say that we Americans are too focused on our rights at the expense of being responsible. And I tend to agree that this is true on many issues.

One thing is certain, as we make our way through the maze of confusion, nobody has a right to use physical, spiritual or emotional violence to violate the rights of others. The same responsibilities of moving within our world to do whatever we do in an ethical manner so that we do not destroy one another’s rights, even as survivors, nor the rights of those we consider our enemies are extremely important if we are to act in ways that show us to have truly risen above the people who are using established power to protect themselves and the institutions they serve.  It’s a fragile walk sometimes, trying to be both wise and harmless.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Mon 11/05/2007 10:40 AM CST
Mon 11/12/2007
Anarchists--the Good and the Bad
Topic: Aliens

Solutions all look so simple to many survivors and advocates. The real complexities, the issues that lie so much deeper, however, elude everyone.

Those issues have to do with our belief systems. We know that our emotions are often primal, yet they come from places deep within us. We are at a loss to explain why we do what we do. Keys to understanding begin arriving when we find the courage to examine the old beliefs that we took for granted as being something we should never challenge.  Not in ourselves and not in others.  Challenging those beliefs would, in fact, be considered total heresy to many. 

That’s what the youth of my era did so much of. And that’s what brought about much change. “The Enemy Within” points that out, in fact. People who were considered anarchists stirred things up sufficiently, throughout world history, to raise the issues.  Issues like racial prejudice, the rights of women and children, the right to privacy.

The respectable anarchists, when we look back in history, were not enemies.  The real heroes for us did not condone violence or war.  Yet their teachings sometimes created in their followers a desire to rise up and act in destructive ways, all in the name of social justice. 

Whenever we step over the line, we take the low road.   For the low road always invades the boundaries of others.  It doesn't just hold the line nor challenge belief systems.  It goes a step further.  Defeating itself, ultimately, and sabotaging the higher values that are being promoted by a lot of good people.  It's a fine line indeed.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Sun 11/11/2007
Stopping the Triangulation with the Enemy
Topic: Aliens

Until we can stop the triangulation that keeps us from seeing the real enemy, we cannot team up to truly hold accountable the people who originally got things in a fog. People like the Timothy McVee’s, who ironically came from groups who thought the enemy to be a group of people who pose such a grave threat to others' security that people and valuable property need to be annihilated in order to wake up the perceived enemies.

So we need to identify for ourselves two things:

1. What emotions or ideas threaten to destroy the things that are precious within us?

2. What are the real enemies?

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Fri 11/09/2007 12:53 AM CST
Sat 11/10/2007
Dr. Phil Blows It

If any of you saw Dr. Phil, you were probably disappointed with the confusion that the show created in exposing the teacher vs. students with allegations last week.   I was certainly disappointed to get the reports, though I didn't see the show myself. 

Rather than clearly showing what he led me to believe he'd be showing in the program, this icon of wisdom for so many left the multitudes confused by bringing on kids who may very well have been acting out of immaturity in even bringing the allegations.  It strengthened the myth that victims, in general, are not to be trusted.  The public will see this story, I fear, as a typical abuse story.

I apologize for leading any of you astray who may have watched in horror.   Please understand that Dr. Phil and CBS together led me astray, along with a lot of others who had issues clarified well on the Early Show only to be left with no clarity in the end.

What a missed opportunity for this man!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Fri 11/09/2007
The Fog Thickens
Topic: Aliens

Studies like “The Enemy Within” give us an opportunity to look deeply within ourselves to see that we may also become “the enemy within" to others, whether we are perceived to be the terrorist or the people of the status quo. This can happen in families and churches alike.

We can even become enemies to our cause. It happens all the time when we make poor choices that sabotage our personal fulfillment or the fulfillment of goals in advocacy. Staying rational is a difficult task. It can be made even more difficult at times by, of all people, therapists who may not understand the more complex problems or issues related to the spiritual abuse we have sustained.

There’s a paradox that is often missed in survivor groups. So often the establishment and its leaders (ie. Church and its leaders) are viewed as “the enemy.” Sometimes they behave like the enemy, too, when they start becoming more afraid and angry and full of hate toward survivors who are speaking out than they are toward the perpetrators who started the real problems that threaten to destroy the organizations, as well as the direct victims.

Sadly, the real enemy within when we have such role reversal IS the irrational fear, anger, and hate that keep apart people who otherwise might be considered very docile. It’s so hard to see what’s real and how large the threat of DIM thinking is, because of the fog that is created by perpetrators. Perpetrators, in their addiction to power and control, create a fog--just as all addicts do. It’s a fog that works to distort facts, confounds scientific research, and keeps us focused on evil, both the real evil and some that may be imagined. So often, though, our fears are real but those who really know the truth (the eye witnesses) and can bring it to light are suffering from their own irrational fears so that they deny the truth, even when they may have once spoken it behind closed doors.

When that fear becomes a fear of losing something considered to be essential or valuable, especially if that "something" is an old belief system, then it complicates life immensely and takes time to sort it all out.



Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Mon 11/05/2007 10:24 AM CST
Thu 11/08/2007
When Emotions Become the Enemy
Topic: Aliens

What are the emotions that fill terrorists to the point of acting violently? They are fear, anger, hatred, that all become irrational, leading to rage. Eventually this leads to irrational behavior because the fear, anger, and hatred become more and more irrational and escalate into a paranoia as the counterintelligence groups are filled with exactly the same emotions!

Survivors and advocates have these emotions, as well.   We have a choice, just as those we consider to be the enemy have choices.  We must choose whether we are going to destroy precious things in others or ourselves.  This involves deciding what is truly precious and worthy of preservation.  All the while knowing that our choices may not be the choices of others we love.  Not the choices of old friends either. 

As a young person, living through the 60's and 70's, I often was convicted that some of the old status quo thinking I'd been taught to treasure wasn't really a treasure.  The internal conflicts had to do with racism and the status of women and children.  I wasn't ready to always consider that my old religious beliefs needed to be challenged as I examined my thinking.  Deciding that was a very slow and painful process, "helped along" by running into the brick wall of collusion with violence, as it played out in the faith community.  What I chose to do back in my youth and how I choose to approach these matters today has been changed by my own life experience, my sense of security and ability to risk having a closer look.  I'm very much still in process myself.

It's a formidable task, deciding how best to navigate the rough waters of such intense emotions.   Especially when the emotions themselves sometimes seem to threaten our own well-being. 

What an ethical dilemma!  What a spiritual challenge!   What a journey!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Wed 11/07/2007 8:28 AM CST
Wed 11/07/2007
Deciding Who to Consider the Real Enemy
Topic: Aliens

At “The Enemy Within” presentation, I was especially drawn toward studies of the KKK, being from the South and having endured plenty of conversations as a kid, from relatives who were definitely racist while they denied this fact. Though, fortunately, none of them were in the KKK nor seemed to think this to be a fine organization.

Then, there was the section showing the most dramatic events in the 60’s and 70’s. Not long before that era, the KKK had revived itself in full force. Yet the FBI, under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover, had sort of ignored this threat to human rights within our borders. The KKK was given much power because it wasn’t perceived to be a threat to the nation. Plus it would be impossible to get involved without destroying the right of free speech, our nation’s leaders told one another as the KKK was methodically preparing for some of the most violent days in it’s history.

The FBI chose instead to concentrate on what the FBI called the “New Left” groups, using counterintelligence activities.  That included the Black Panthers and People's Liberation Army, people with beliefs diametrically opposed to those of the KKK, yet with tactics just as violent.

Hoover left a legacy of power and abuse of power. Some considered him to be the hero during those days. Others considered him to be the enemy.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Wed 11/07/2007 8:14 AM CST
Tue 11/06/2007
The Enemy Within
Topic: Aliens

One of the most wonderful museums in the Midwest is located in Omaha, only 20 minutes from my home. It’s called Durham Western Heritage Museum. I sometimes take visitors there. Sometimes when I really want to concentrate on a special exhibit, I like to go alone. Such was the case recently. In fact, I made two trips in for an exhibit done in collaboration with the Smithsonian. It’s called “The Enemy Within.”

What a study on terrorism in America! Terrorism, as defined by this massive undertaking, is the “use of unlawful force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce government, the civilian population or any segments of society in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

The displays were set in a large room that I know well, yet it didn’t feel like the same room at all since it was very dark to match the subject matter and filled with a backdrop of sounds that I wanted to turn off at times, sounds that reminded me of a haunted house. This was nothing like the haunted house, though. It wasn’t set up for anyone’s fun. Nor for tots or even elementary-age kids either. It would have gotten at least a PG-13 rating in the movies, and there were plenty of warning signs about its content not being suitable for children.

One purpose of this project seemed to be to get us to look deeper than the terror of 9/11, to see the history of terrorism in America, that actually started the very year the nation was born. Yes, even in 1776, when the Loyalists plotted to kidnap George Washington and assassinate his chief officers.

My mind kept going back to the days when we kids were told that the enemies were the communists who were living among us. Everyone was suspect, and we frequently had drills in school to protect ourselves under these flimsy desks and tables, where we were to stay quietly for as long as we were told. What a plan! Smacks of duct tape in recent years.

It reminds me of the belief that having a few convicted child molesters in a data base, so everyone can know where the problem sex offenders are, is going to be the magical solution to protecting us. “We can stop our vigilance. Just go in and check to see if you have one in your community. We all know where they are now.” As if they all get turned in or that all situations get reported and justice is always served. Not that data bases are bad. It's just such nonsensical thinking to believe they are the magical solution.  Such thinking creates a false sense of security, of course. Though I have to admit that I wish it was all that simple.

What is simple is teaching kids and adults alike that it's okay to talk.  Not just to talk, but to find ways of keeping us all focused on the rational concerns.  Getting that message across continues to be the biggest challenge as I see it.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Tue 11/13/2007 1:05 PM CST
Mon 11/05/2007
The Value of Dreaming
Topic: Power

Recently, I was delighted to find a message from a very dear friend who is a survivor of collusion after discovering evidence of abuse on the church computer of a very conservative United Methodist church.  I was privileged to walk with Amy during those days of horror and loss.

Like many mainline denominations today, there is plenty of politics going on surrounding the issues of what is really downright fundamentalism, pulling on the right.   All while those on the far left are pulling the other direction.  In this case, those issues were probably a part of the reason for the collusion.  Not to justify the collusion at all, just to understand how complex it can be to understand the "justification" for it, often an unspoken agenda on top of the more common agenda.

So the bishop played politics, despite the persistence and great concern of my good friend Amy, in the city that has been the hub of so much of this work (ie. Chicago).   Of course, Amy had power that the bishop did not, in a sense.  Just not power to get anything done.  She had the power of the story. 

While having a scary story to tell may be a great thing on Halloween, it's not a good thing at all if the story is about the church.  Especially not if you are speaking TO political powers in the church!  That's more like a Queen Esther story, except the queen had more of a hearing.

OK, back to my delightful e-mail.  Amy wrote:

"I dreamt that you had a hotel/retreat place, an older building that you had cleaned up, painted and fixed up quite nice - and it was so booked that people had to wait to get in! There was a good positive energy and spirit there that I sensed with you and all the people there." 

Well, it was a nice dream, except I'm not sure I liked the fixing up part.  Done enough of that on our old house to last a lifetime lately.  For now, this blog has to be the closest to the gathering she describes.  It's practical, and I trust is being read by more than a few people who have a positive energy and spirit.

Dreams are powerful.  For warming our spirits.  For getting us to think outside the box.  For giving us vision.  They are great, as long as we realize that they ARE dreams that may never be realized, just fun to entertain as we move forward, creating new dreams and finding some of them fulfilled.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Mon 11/05/2007 7:26 AM CST

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