I want to ask anyone who will read this particular blog a question. How dedicated are you to ridding the world of child sex abuse and violence against children? I am not a politician. I sign petitions. I can write really good,effective letters. But what I don’t know how to do is, what author and child-advocate Andrew Vachss told me in a letter back in 1998. I had written him, probably via his website, because I had witnessed some upsetting episodes of child abuse while I was living in Seattle. Coupled with my own childhood of violence, I had gotten to the point where I could not stomach the world I lived in. I know, from reading many books about serial killers, sadists, pedophiles, rapists, that many, I don’t know the percentage, are created by their own abuse as children. We need to break the cycle. We need to do more. I often feel like I must save the world, but I can’t. Where could the strength come from, for me, not even a mother, but once a child who suffered horribly at the hands of one of her parents and others, to do what Andrew says must happen.
I wonder Andrew, what you think of the world now. Have you seen progress? Is it simply one case at a time for you? Why aren’t we and the world at large, doing more? Here is Andrew Vachss’ response to me in 1998. Please take it to heart:
Dear Ms. Jarrett:
You have asked *the* definitive question; the only one actually worth asking: ”What can *I* do?” Truth is, 30 years on the front lines has convinced me of the utter futility of “consciousness-raising.” I no longer believe in “changing the hearts and minds” of sociopathic or stupid legislators. I believe only in force … the kind of force the NRA has used to such obvious effect; i.e., a reliable, deliverable block of votes on a single, laser-narrow issue. Empathetic folks tend to spread their “concerns” all over the map, while the obsessives on the other side of the only “Holy War” worthy of the name are supremely concentrated in their intensity. Unless and until there is a Mothers Against Predatory Pedophiles (MAPP) or its equivalent able to terrorize Congress into compliance, progress will continue to be incremental … and that’s just not enough any more for a man my age. I am swimming at the horizon, and will drown eventually without reaching it. But there is another wave coming behind me. And maybe that one will be the tsunami we need. If you agree, and can find others who agree with *you,* then maybe that voting bloc for kids can become a reality in time.
Keep your strength,
Joss Whedon said in a passionate speech at Whedonesque once, “There is a place of sanity”: Equality Now. I suggest that as a place to start putting your money where your beliefs are. But truthfully, where is the tsunami? How many more stories of parental, priest and sports coach child abuse will we have to read about?
Thanks to Actor Donal Logue for posting the following tonight on Twitter. I had found Andrew’s letter over the weekend while going through a box of papers and it helped me decide to go ahead and share the letter above:
almostasevil as sexual abuse of children is defense attorneys hammering them about why they didn’t report it and face vilification
EDITED 6/12/12: Andrew Vachss’ reply to me from Twitter:
THANK YOU, ANDREW!
Equality Now is a wonderful organization – they help women and children all over the world. But protect.org is a lobby specifically for children and both extremely worthy. It is the tsunami that can happen, as he states in the video, if they gain enough members.
Give up one date night and dinner a year to help children. Thanks.