I have been brooding today about Bill Cosby. Does it really matter whether a farmer/schoolteacher/mother/poet forms an opinion about the Bill Cosby rape story? I can just ignore it all, say it’s none of my business, and move on. It’s a mark, perhaps, of our shallow culture that we get wrapped up in the lives of celebrities to the point that uncovering a celebrity’s history of sexual predation would throw me, would cause me such a sense of intermingled fury and grief. Perhaps. Still, I think when someone is lively or delightful or thoughtful or beautiful in the wider culture in which we participate, we do feel a connection that goes beyond the merely mundane. I wept when violinist Isaac Stern died, when the poetic voice of Maya Angelou passed on, when Robin Williams left us with only memories of his laughter. So I supposed this response isn’t preposterous.
But there’s another piece of it that’s really bothering me today, and that is that when this recent part of the story broke this past week, I had a moment of deja vu: “Oh yeah. Wasn’t there something about this a few years ago?” As I began to read the account of Scott Simon’s questions and the stories of more and more women coming forward, I remembered that I had read earlier–and damning–accusations a few years ago. Why did I forget? Why did I put that out of mind and go on accepting Bill Cosby as America’s Mr. Funnyman? America’s Everydad, as Mark Morford called him. And that’s the thing that bothers me, because that’s a hallmark of rape culture–that the predator can so often minimize his crimes in the face of his power or celebrity or general congeniality that people either don’t believe the stories of his victims or they participate in the minimization, ignore the true implications of the accusations, and go on living as though nothing has happened, and the victim gets violated again, this time by the world’s refusal to acknowledge her story. Again, why does it matter what I think? Why should I bother to form an opinion on the matter? It troubles me, though, that something in me would have minimized the earlier stories, would have lived in denial that someone who brought such delight and wonder into our homes could be cavalierly destroying people’s lives. I feel complicit in the culture of denial. Sullied.
1. Hiking at Sam Lewis State Park. Every time I go there and climb on the rocks with the kids, I am more and more aware of how old I am getting, how clambering over the big rocks is getting harder and harder. Still, it’s worth the scramble up to the top of the rocks pile, to look through the trees to the River, to imagine what it must have been like for the First People who walked here to stand perhaps on the very same rocks looking out to the River.
2. Sharing the awe. Yesterday in my last class, I mentioned something about the morning’s sunrise, and suddenly three or four students were all talking at once, clamoring to tell their experiences of watching the sky that morning.
3. I don’t have to figure it all out. I don’t have to be perfect for every moment. I just need to be Present.
4. The last assignment in the course I am taking was to watch a video on renewing energy, on play and flow and working joyfully. And then to go play for an hour. I took that seriously, and we all spent most of the day with the Legos, sorting and building and playing. It is very satisfying to be assigned to play. My children loved that.
May we walk in Beauty!