Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Being grateful for the experience

I'm not exactly certain where this is coming from. I sat down to finally do some fiction writing. Instead, I found the prompt inspired this rant.

When Oprah got all orgasmic over The Secret, I sat up and thought, "Hm...this could be promising." Then, one of the featured, "experts" (don't get me started) made an unforgivable comment. He told a woman who had divorced an abusive husband that she should thank him for the experience because she wouldn't be who she is without it.

I wanted to jump through time and space and strangle that man. I've worked with far too many abuse organizations to think that concept could ever be useful. The idea of thanking someone for abuse is disgusting. The thought of a 7-year-old relative thanking the teenager who raped her makes me want to injure someone (HIM). The thought of dh's elderly grandmother thanking the S.S. officers for not only destroying her life in Germany 60+ years ago, but then having to relive the whole ordeal now absolutely crushes me. What is wrong with the world that not only do such atrocities happen, but now we're supposed to turn around and say, "Thanks so much?"

Monday, I happened to catch Oprah's show I wanted to hear more about The Big Give. One of the contestants featured spoke briefly about how she was abused during her childhood, but she is grateful for it because it made her who she is today.


Eli Wiesel (who I read before Oprah featured him in her stupid book club) dealt with suffering and meaning in Night. In the wake of the Shoah, we must ask ourselves, "Why?" There is no definite answer and there will be no end to our questions. Good things have happened since then, directly and indirectly related to those horrors, yet how could we ever dare to think of saying we are grateful for such destruction?

When I read Wiesel in college, my take on suffering was the same then as it is now. I also think it might be more in line with what Oprah's cronies are suggesting. I don't know that things always happen for a reason, but I believe we each have the opportunity to GIVE them reason. We can use that as springboards to something better.

If we were abused, we are left with a choice--to dwell, to destroy or to do. We don't need to be grateful for the abuse. I find that idea absolutely disgusting. Abuse does not make anyone into a better person. That person decides where he/she wants to go from there. That person needs to be grateful for his/her own strength and perseverance. THAT is what makes the difference. The abuser did not make you a better person. The abuse did not make you who you are today. YOU make the conscious decision to do that yourself.

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