The Weak Cannot Forgive. Forgiveness Is An Attribute Of The Strong.”
—Mahatma Gandhi

The recent horrific, heart-wrenching and highly disturbing incidents highlighting 14-year-0ld Malala Yousafza, 15-year-old Amanda Todd and Pen State coach, Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of 10 boys, as well as the disclosure by one of Sandusky’s victims, Aron Fisher, prompts me to share my mandate on abuse in this blog. I was  extremely stunned, horrified and deeply pained by the atrocities committed against these young and vulnerable teenagers, which unfortunately in Amanda Todd’s case, ended in her unacceptable death. It compels me to repeatedly question the ‘patriarchal edict of silence’ enshrouded in the issue of abuse. Bullying is a form of emotional abuse. In Malala’s case, the patriarchal oppression that manifest as ‘systemic bullying’ as perpetrated by the Talibans is an attempt to ‘silence’ anyone who dares to challenge the status quo.

Abuse is not a topic that is openly mentioned, let alone discussed by most societies and cultures. It has been encapsulated by  ‘a code of silence,’ which sadly promotes the very violence that it publicly ignores. The stigma and public judgment associated with being bullied, oppressed, abused and betrayed often prevents the victim from breaking this code of silence. Unfortunately, it is this very ‘silence’ that perpetuates the cycle of abuse, immobilizing and entrapping not only the targeted, but also the community,  society and nation in their self-imposed prisons. The ‘silence’ enmeshed in abuse must be shattered for it robs the targeted of their voice to articulate their reality. Amanda Todd, who was tormented for years with bullying finally  broke this ‘silence’ with her video in her desperation to reach out for help, bringing to public attention the dire and urgent need for more education and social awareness of what constitutes abuse, how it impacts the individual, society and nation and what needs to be done to address and transcend the effects of abuse.

The pervasiveness of abusive and violent behavior in myriad forms begs us to reflect on how we are evolving in our consciousness as an individual, as a community, a society and nation. Abuse in any form is unacceptable. It violates human rights, corrupts the spirit and robs both the perpetrator and the targeted off dignity and respect. The snowballing of hatred, anger, hostility and vulgarities that have spewed forth in the social media against Amanda Todd illustrates not only the hypocrisy of those eager to condemn another but more importantly, a lack of  compassion and forgiveness for a young girl who had made a mistake. It is only when we can walk in another person’s shoes and feel the connection, pain and suffering of that person that paves the way for a more compassionate and unified life. We as a human community must unify in our stand to transform and heal the chasms of separation and division created by unforgiveness, hatred, prejudice and revenge.

Excerpted in parts from “Shadow To Light.”

Sasha Samy (c) 2012