Integrity and who is and isn’t watching

Dear President Trump,

The Apostolic church right next to the main freeway entrance near here has a new quote on its billboard: “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching”. They incorrectly attribute the quote to C. S. Lewis (according to the C. S. Lewis Foundation it is a paraphrase of a Charles Marshall quote), but I’m sure more people will pay attention with this attribution than would otherwise. Regardless of who actually said it, the big deal here is that in the 19 years we’ve lived near this church they’ve never used a non-biblical quote except to advertise their youth car washes. So this is a big deal and I think the timing and choice of quotes is meaningful. They would probably maintain that God is always watching (kind of like Santa) and so nothing truly goes unnoticed, but still, I think they are weighing in on the issues before us with the current Supreme Court nominee and the many, many clergy abuse revelations.

At least that’s what I thought when I first saw it this morning. Now I’m not so sure because when I got to thinking about the “no one” part I realized the choice of quotes is actually problematic because in sexual assault situations there is clearly someone watching – the victim. She or he knows that someone else is acting in ways that do not have integrity so even if the rest of the world sees an upstanding member of the community, the victim knows better. I’m wondering whether what might really be meant is that no one who matters is watching. I don’t think Marshall meant this, but I wonder if in trying to make a statement about integrity in private situations, the church folks miscalculated in a way that is actually pretty dang consistent with our national values; other men’s opinions are what matter to men (see 12/11/17 for my Treatise on opportunities and motivations for the subjugation of women by men) and thus all the “boys will be boys” and “it wasn’t rape” crap that’s coming out of male GOP senators’ mouths.

You have an opportunity here to handle a really hard situation well by slowing down and taking the necessary steps to thoroughly investigate Dr. Ford’s allegations. You owe her and the country this.

May we be safe when we choose to unearth painful secrets.
May we be willing to deal with the fact that millions of us have buried abuse experiences.
May we figure out how to address this cultural crap.
May those of us who have kept quiet break our silence and challenge the false peace.

Tracy Simpson

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