#Me,Too

#MeToo.

I saw the hashtag and the Facebook post encouraging the copy-paste for women who’d experienced sexual harassment.

I had to think first. Really think. Had I been sexually harassed?

I don’t have any Harvey Weinstein moments. I am nearly always treated with respect and rarely as an object.

The overwhelming majority of interactions I’ve had with men in my life have been positive or had nothing to do with my gender when they weren’t.

I’ve witnessed plenty of sexual harassment, especially when I was younger. But my own experiences? Did they count? Did they rise to that level?

There was my fifth-grade teacher who always wanted hugs from the girls. We obliged, even though it felt weird, especially because he singled one girl out.

There was my seventh-grade teacher who called the pretty girls “baby” and told them to get him some coffee. I wished I was pretty enough for him to do that so I could say, “I’m not your baby, and you can get your own coffee.” But he never asked me.

And then my eighth-grade teacher who wouldn’t let a girl go to the bathroom even though she said she had a personal problem, which is adolescent girlspeak for “I’m on my period” and it’s an emergency. His response? “Yeah, I guess you do.” It didn’t happen to me, but I was a little scared it could.

Is being made fun of when your period leaks all over the place when you’re 12 sexual harassment? Because that did happen to me, and it’s definitely something guys don’t have to deal with, so they’re the ones making the jokes.

My freshman year of high school I was told you couldn’t get an A in Biology unless you wore a short skirt. I was determined to prove that wrong, and I did. But that didn’t stop the teacher from putting his finger in my ear one day when I had a tendril of hair hanging down. I looked at him and said, “Excuse me,” and he never touched me again.

In high school I was again excluded from certain comments directed to the really pretty girls, this time from my female P.E. teacher. She would say, “I strongly suggest you don't get hit in the face with a ball because it will greatly diminish your chances of getting married.” While I didn’t want to be told that, the message I got was that my face wasn’t pretty enough to attract a husband anyway so I wasn’t really worth the effort. Which led to a lot of ambiguous feelings even though I knew she was being horrible. She became principal sometime after I graduated.

In college, I was lamenting one day with a male friend that guys weren’t interested in me and I didn’t know why. This was his take: “You’re intimidating. Guys want someone they can manipulate and control, and you’re not it.”

I was walking on a well-traveled bike path with headphones and a guy thought he would help me understand the risks of walking alone in the middle of the morning by speeding up behind me on his bike and yelling “Can you hear your attacker?” as he went by. My friends wanted me to carry pepper spray after that. I refused, but I did buy a body alarm to appease them.

My college choir professor, in encouraging the women to lift their chests, said, “If you got it, flaunt it.” We laughed awkwardly.

When I was a reporter, I had a guy I was interviewing ask if the hot photographer was coming, and if any pretty girls worked at the newspaper. The interview became increasingly uncomfortable, and I got a bit scared as the college cafeteria where we were talking emptied out. A few weeks later he was arrested for stalking his ex-wife.

A male co-worker and friend told me I’d be really amazing (or something to that effect) if I lost weight.

There was the man I worked with who bragged that he refused to sign off on the sexual harassment policy even though he’d been turned in for sexual harassment because of the things he said at work. In my exit interview, I told HR. I don’t know if they took action.

None of those instances made me copy and paste, But the next one did. I hadn’t thought about it in years.

I went to a small Christian college, just two city blocks. I lived in a campus-owned house across the street from the education buildings and dorm.

I was about to go across the street for dinner when I got a phone call. Our numbers weren’t listed anywhere but at a desk in the dorm building.

It was a guy. He said he could see me. At first, I thought it was one of my friends. I played a bit. “Oh, really?” Something like that. But it became clear fast that this wasn’t a friend, and it wasn’t a voice I recognized. I don’t remember exactly what he said. I do remember I was scared, and I didn’t scare easily. I called campus security and asked for an escort to go across the street, something I had never done before. And I was surprised at their response.

This was a small school. These were guys who knew me. It was my third year and I’d never called them for anything, unlike other girls who wanted a walk to the parking lot just because it was dark.

They didn’t think it was a big deal. Not the call. Not my fear. I think they came when I insisted, but not until then. Even my female friends didn’t think it was a big deal.

I never found out who called me that night. I did find out that no one cared, and that saying something was useless.

So, yeah, #MeToo.

The Wall, the Ban, & the Apostle Paul

Dear Mr. President,

I’m going to get into some policy today. And I’m going to be talking about it particularly as a person of faith, and more specifically as a Christian, a faith you also profess.

It’s about the wall and the travel ban.

They’re difficult subjects, and I don’t want to gloss over the very real issues of national security and safety.

Of course, we need to be safe. Of course we need to vet people coming into our country who might wish to harm other people.

I don’t think a wall or a travel ban do that. But I’m not going to talk about that. It’s been discussed at length in other places, and it’s a debate where good people with good intentions can disagree.

[caption id="attachment_24" align="alignnone" width="5312"]This photo is by Baher Khairy of Cario, Egypt. He provided it for use via Unsplash.[/caption]

What worries me much more than a wall or a travel ban is the heart behind it.

I don’t know your heart. I only know the things you say in public.

So I want to remind you of something the apostle Paul said, as one Christian to another. Paul was talking about Jews and Gentiles, but this could obviously be applied to any two groups who hate each other, especially on the basis of religion. If you want to look it up to see the context, it’s Ephesians 2:14-16. This is from the New International Version.

For he [Christ] himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

I understand your fear of people from a political perspective. People hurt each other.

But let’s not kid ourselves. That’s not limited to people from outside our borders.

Christians are called to something else. Reconciliation. Bringing people together.

We can’t do that with walls or travel bans.

That’s the easy way. Dare I say a cowardly way?

Rather than reaching out bravely to people we are afraid of, people who are different from us, people who threaten our way of life and values (or seem to until we really get to know them), we can just avoid them. Build a wall. Don’t let them come in.

Jesus rejects easy, fearful answers every single time. He wasn’t afraid of the people who killed him. He used them to destroy barriers, to create peace. To reconcile them to God and to each other.

Your favorite book of the Bible is 2 Corinthians. It says in the fifth chapter that God makes us new and gives us the ministry of reconciliation. It’s hard bring people together or to bring them to God with a wall or an ocean between us.

Is it practical to have our theology drive our politics? I think so.

Is it safe? Maybe not.

But what if it is? What if bringing people together and honestly working out our differences is safer than staying apart? The framers of the Constitution surely believed that. They supported free speech and assembly, and they created a form of government that valued dissent and rejected having one religion in charge.

What if, like Paul in the sixth chapter of 2 Corinthians, we could say we “displayed purity, knowledge, patience, and generosity” in the face of “beatings, imprisonments, riots, hard work, sleepless nights, and hunger”?

Wouldn’t that cause actual change?

What if, as Paul says later in that chapter, we “carried the weapons of righteousness” instead of increasing our defense budget?

Perhaps then God would respond as Paul says he will:

I listened to you at the right time, and I helped you on the day of salvation.Look, now is the right time! Look, now is the day of salvation!

Let it be so.

Sincerely,

Teresa Jackson

All scriptures are from the Common English Bible except where noted.

Dear Mr. President, Feb. 16, 2017

Dear Mr. President,

I read the transcripts of your Feb. 16 press conference, and I was troubled by some things you said.

QUESTION:

And if I may follow up on that, just something that Jonathan Karl was asking you about. You said that the leaks are real, but the news is fake. I guess I don't understand. It seems that there's a disconnect there. If the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?

DONALD TRUMP

You know what it is? Here's the thing. The public isn't -- you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don't know if it's true or false because they're not involved. I'm involved. I've been involved with this stuff all my life. But I'm involved. So I know when you're telling the truth or when you're not.I just see many, many untruthful things.

And I'll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word "tone." The tone is such hatred. I'm really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such -- I do get good ratings, you have to admit that -- the tone is such hatred.

I watched this morning a couple of the networks. And I have to say, Fox & Friends in the morning, they're very honorable people. They're very -- not because they're good, because they hit me also when I do something wrong. But they have the most honest morning show. That's all I can say. It's the most honest.

But the tone, Jim. If you look -- the hatred. The, I mean, sometimes -- sometimes somebody gets..

I’ll be honest. I disagree with most of your policies, but you won the election. I can accept that in our democracy reasonable people can have very different ideas about what is best for the country.

My worry is that you’re telling us you are the one who knows what truth is and isn’t.

I agree with you that the tone of reporting hasn’t been helpful to the public and has at times been downright hateful.

I wish it wasn’t that way because what’s happening in the country is really important, and the more objective reporters can stay, the better off we will all be.

And I agree with you that Hillary Clinton should have reported that she got debate questions from CNN employees. That was wrong, and there’s no excuse for it.

I’m still worried.

See, you haven’t always told the truth, either.

In fact, you didn’t always tell the truth in this press conference.

You said the media has a lower approval rating than Congress, but that isn’t true. It’s not great at 20 percent for newspapers and 21 percent for TV news, but it’s double Congress’ 9 percent trustworthiness rating, according to the Gallup organization.

You said that Alex Acosta is a member of the National Labor Relations Board, but he hasn’t served on it since 2003.Maybe that’s nitpicking, but you’re asking us to trust that you know the difference between real and fake news.

You said you inherited a mess. It’s hard to fact-check this, but by all economic indicators, the economy improved significantly under President Obama. We’ve been adding jobs for seven years.That’s more than at any other time in our history.

Some of the Middle East is a disaster, of course. And North Korea is even more volatile as it was when I lived in South Korea in the 1990s. So pretty much every president in the last many decades has inherited a mess as far as North Korea and the MIddle East are concerned.

I’m also not sure why you think the military needs to be rebuilt and to be so much bigger. According to Global Firepower,the United States spent $581 billion on our military in 2015. That’s more than the next eleven highest-spending countries combined.

To give you an idea, China, who's No. 2 on the list, spent $155.6 billion that year.

Sure, we could improve management and contracts and such, but we’ve already built the biggest, strongest military in the world more than four times over.

You were corrected during the press conference by a reporter about your electoral college victory, and you said, “I was given that information. I don’t know.”

Certainly Americans need to be careful about the news we consume. We need to fact-check for ourselves in these times when anyone with a computer can spread what is truly fake news.

Mr. President, I can’t trust you to tell me the truth. I think you believe what you’re saying, but you’re not always right, and neither are the people who speak for you.

It’s dangerous for citizens to trust politicians blindly. That’s why we have a free press. They’re not perfect, but they are our best line of defense against dictatorship. You swore to uphold the Constitution, and I want to believe you meant it. So please respect the First Amendment and the free press.

I also wanted to address your comments about tone. You’re absolutely right. This country is bitter and bitterly divided. That cuts both ways. I’ve heard liberals say really demeaning things about conservatives, and I’ve heard conservatives do likewise about liberals.

You say you’re not a bad guy. Please, please show it. We need your example.

Because while you may be a nice person who is disturbed by the tone of the country and the media, you spent your entire campaign trying to convince us otherwise.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecmE0GvMctE&w=560&h=315]

I don’t mean to be a jerk here. I’m guessing this was a show. It certainly got you attention and probably pushed you to the forefront.

You’ve said that many of these cases were taken out of context. I’ll take you at your word about that. Still, you can’t deny their tone.

Mr. President, we need you to do better. We need you to speak the truth, to let the press do its job even when it’s uncomfortable. And we need you to set the tone.