The recent US Supreme Court approval process for Brett Kavanaugh opened the lid of an earthenware vase marked Trust, when Christine Blasey-Ford stepped forward and said she had been abused by him. The hearings were dramatic. Other dramas never came into the frame. Dr Blasey-Ford had previously been engaged in medical research linked to figures like Alan Schatzberg and Charles Nemeroff – see Children of the Cure.
This post riffs on some of the themes the hearings raised with a little Schatzberg and Nemeroff mixed in.
Do I trust you, can I trust the system, to believe me when I say I have been abused? I have not mentioned this abuse before now. There was no option but to put up with being abused by you, to avert my eyes from you when passing, to clean up any mess quietly.
My speaking up now surprises you.
Like many, I have seemed “reasonable” when a few have ranted about their abuse, been “hysterical” or taken drastic action. The consequences to them have made many of us “reasonable”.
I am also wary about fracturing relationships. I have depended on older white men to look after me in the past. I admire a great deal of what they have done not just for me but for others. Much of the world they have created has brought me great joy.
I have no wish to create a divide with people I know, admire and am inclined to trust on the opposite side, even though others tell me I simply don’t register the “micro-aggressions” coming from across a divide already there.
I hear ever more mention of “trauma”. I am told that an accumulation of setbacks can shorten my life. But neither going into therapy, nor paying someone to help me turn in on myself, nor collectively turning in on ourselves, nor taking pills look like answers to me.
We do need to organize but even though I am black, I am female, I am poorly placed and the Left are even less likely to see me than the Right.
The divides between women and men, blacks and whites, working-class and wealthy, some nations and others, are deep-seated. But I am on the wrong side of an even deeper divide. You are fortunate, I am unfortunate. I am the one who remains stigmatized because the medical sacraments of our day don’t work for me.
And whatever your willingness to reach out to women, blacks, and workers, you flinch from misfortune and from me. You are the cream of society – rich and thick – one of the elect for whom the sacraments work.
It wasn’t always like this. You accepted that all can vote. You abolished slavery. And when you overcame tuberculosis, cholera and leprosy you seemed to have tamed misfortune.
It was the Romans said that money doesn’t smell. You’ll take it whether it comes from women, blacks or campesinos but the Romans wouldn’t take it from lepers, who had to mint their own Dos Centavos as now do I.
You celebrate AIDs now, as though like tuberculosis you overcame it, but this embrace was forced on you by people like me. By then, though, history was no longer on my side.
You are now spooked by any questioning of the weapons you once successfully used against misfortune, as though opening the lid of this earthenware vase will loose demons.
In this most delicate of areas I could trust You once. Now I can’t because whether you are white or black, male or female, from privilege or poverty, you have lost the courage to trust me. This completes my misfortune.
I know that not everyone is believable. I know some of us make things up, and in desperate situations do desperate things. I know that misfortune and adversity don’t make us better or nicer people. But a world in which most of us are not believed can no longer work.
Not being believed diminishes me. Not being able to believe diminishes you.
You have an illness that contaminates me.
You trust in the Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine when even the President of the United States, if asked under oath about what’s there, would have to agree most of it is Fake News – and has been for more than thirty years. Why?
Rather than trust yourself or me, you turn to guidelines framed from forgeries. Why?
Hanging together you could demand the data from the trials of drugs you give me – force on me. Instead you hang separately. Why?
Now that you have most of us on 3 or more drugs and life expectancy is falling, what next?
What was that whisper you heard – you ask?