In the months since I decided to withdraw Blood on Holy Ground, I’ve never stopped examining that decision. I may yet change my mind. More than anything else, I’d hoped to avoid contributing to the climate of violence in America–against women, against racial and religious groups, against the LGBT community, even against white males. A mystery novel dealing with sexual violence suddenly seemed inappropriate.
But things have changed. With the rapid spread of the #metoo phenomenon, public reports of sexual abuse have overwhelmed the media. For the first time, thousands of people are speaking out about the sexual violence they’ve suffered, and they’re finding healing in sharing their stories. Anger is also part of breaking that long silence–and a natural and healthy response to abuse. Releasing this anger is so crucial that people who can’t manage it almost inevitably find themselves sharing their inner space with emotional volcanoes –vents of fury that blight their own lives as well as searing those around them. Yet even those who confront their anger face a further danger: addiction to the rush that rides on “righteous” rage. Instead of bringing healing, endless rage only traps its victims in mazes of bitterness.
Sadly, publicity has also brought complications. The sudden flood of abuse narratives is rocking the boat of American business-as-usual. Anger flares on all sides. Spurious accounts find their way in. People rationalize and whitewash their own actions and demonize others. Decency, compassion, and concern for human rights struggle to hold their own against riptides of emotion. The whole issue shows signs of deteriorating into a political firefight. Human pain is swept aside. Ethics blur in the media blitz. A screen of empty chatter dulls the reality of human cruelty.
So I’ve created a short video in which I speak as a woman, but with the words of trees . . . of forests who for thousands of years have suffered assault . . . yet who continue to offer new life and seeds for the future. Perhaps my images will slip past some of the barricades. After all, trees bear no more blame for their felling than a child bears for her abuse. If I tell a story of trees, raw human emotions may fade into the distance. Woodland tragedy may allow space for compassion and understanding. Perhaps, in the company of trees, we can even remember our humanity, and find healing together.
The video’s title is Women’s Abuse Through a Forest Lens: #Metoo in the Voice of Trees. You can find it here.
For those of you who don’t care for videos, I’ve reproduced the images and words below, but without the soundtrack.