I originally wanted to title this post “Screw you, Kesha”. But saner voices in my head, (including John Hartness going “don’t punch down, dude.”) prevailed. Knocking on an abuse survivor just because you vehemently disagree with the underlying principle of her latest hit is no reason to go nuclear. But it was really tempting.
Kesha’s latest song, “Praying”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-Dur3uXXCQ is about her struggle to come to grips with her abuse at the hands of her producer, Dr. Luke. Anyone looking to debate the merits of her accusations can go right to hell. As an abuse survivor, I’ll believe her until someone can actually prove she’s lying. That’s what you do with people who come forward, folks.
But my problem with Kesha’s song is the idea and tone of the song. She talks about “I hope you find your peace/falling on your knees/praying”.I really think this is the wrong message to send to abuse survivors. I think that asking for peace for abusers is still wishing them well, and that’s the last thing I want to do.
I get that we’re all supposed to wish for peace, that we’re supposed to love our enemies. I’ve never subscribed to that particular branch of the spiritual tree. I have no interest in forgiveness for those who abused me. Because they have no interest in being forgiven.
That’s why I have the issue. Why waste forgiveness on those that aren’t sorry, and never will be? When did being angry at those who’ve harmed us intentionally, and their enablers, become poisonous?
I’m a huge fan of John Lydon, the singer for the Sex Pistols and the lead force behind his own group, Public Image Limited. The title of this post and his latest autobiography, the phrase “anger is an energy”.come from the PiL song “Rise https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN-GGeNPQEg. It’s words I live by.
I could be bitter, I could give my abusers victory by spiraling into a gutter somewhere. I did that for years. Wasn’t very productive.When I was down there, I found someone who understood my viewpoint. His name was Andrew Vachss, and he saved my life.
I wasn’t a good person in my early twenties. I was a complete nihilist who drank too much, screwed whatever he could get his hands on, and believed that every day was his last, hopefully. I was working in a bookstore(RIP B.Dalton’s Lakehurst Mall) and every morning, we had the Oprah report.
Young people forget how much power that lady had in the early 90’s. If she promoted a book that morning, I’d have at least 20 calls One of the authors she put on her show was Andrew Vachss. My manager , Renee, took one of his books, Blossom(I think), and put it in my hands. She regretted it, because once it was in my hands, I didn’t get anything else done.
It wasn’t like anything I’d ever read before. It was hard boiled noir, featuring a con man of sorts named Burke. But Burke’s victims were abusers, kiddie porn traffickers, Nazi sympathizers and their ilk. Burke wasn’t just a cop putting guys away to learn more skills. He was putting them in the ground, or so far upthe river they’d never see daylight.
I bought every book. I ordered his appearances on Orpah on tape from her studios. Other authors flowered from the same spot he watered. I learned about Charles DeLint, Joe Lansdale and other from him. I learned to recognize the abuse I’d suffered and was suffering. I got help.
And Andrew Vachss didn’t just write about it either. He organized Protect, the first lobbying group designed strictly for fighting for kids. He was a defense attorney for kids. He walked his talk, to a degree that stands as an example for all of us.
But the thing I liked about Vachss’ work was the anger underneath it all. wrapped up in writing at a levle I hope to achieve before I leave this planet. Yeah, it’s hero worship, Shit, one of the reasons I married my wife is that I made her read Blue Belle by Vachss, told her it was my favorite romance ever, and she didn’t run screaming.But if the 12 steps gurus and fluffy bunny crystal wearers aren’t salving your sore soul, Vachss is a step in the right direction.
“Do you hate them? Do you hate them all?” is a question Cross(another Vachss lead character) asks in a book. My answer is yes. I hate the abusers, their enablers, and those who deny the abusers and their victims for their own interests.
Now, you can say that all that anger poisons the well.That living with hate in your heart burns you out and kills your love dead. I know that. I’m not asking you to be a bitter recluse. I’m asking you to take that anger, that hate, that burning, and light a fire. Let that fire be the light in your soul, the one that burns with anger for the abusers, and love for the victims, and love for the future people , so that you do whatever you can to take the predatory animals in human suits off the streets.
Go volunteer at a domestic abuse shelter. Teach self defense classes. Educate people about things like sex trafficking and what to watch out for. Donate to the Legislative Drafting Institute For Child Protection https://www.facebook.com/Legislative-Drafting-Institute-for-Child-Protection-1712090195710175/?fref=ts. If you don’t know where to begin go to Andrew’s site http://www.vachss.com and go to resources.
But above all else, don’t feel bad for your anger. Whether it’s at an abuser, an enabler, or an institute. If you don’t feel like granting peace, do not feel bad for that. I did for years,because the person was someone I loved. I hope something in this has helped those of you out there who don’t feel like “Praying”.