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COMMENTARY: Ben Field

posted by HM Action at 2013-07-01 15:27:00

I wrote the following in a Facebook Group, Processing Horace Mann, as my response to those who suggest generally that alumni should 'move on' and more specifically that alumni who continue to seek to address the history of sexual abuse at Horace Mann and the School's present day response to it need to 'get over it', let go of their anger, and let the School alone.

I just wanted to throw out there that those who were not abused at HM may have nothing to 'move on' from as it seems to be in use here -- i.e. this is not about holding onto or not getting over some harm in the past or forgiving the school etc. For me, this is about how HM acts towards my fellow alumni who were terribly, tragically, and horrifically sexually abused by teachers and administrators and how HM comports itself as an educational leader in the present day with obligations that are rooted in this tragic history. Because HMs present day actions have a demonstrable impact on survivors' healing trajectory (irrespective of any so called moving on any survivors do individually) and because those actions are an important part of a conversation about sexual abuse much bigger than HM, I believe I have a responsibility to be as involved as I can on both sides of that conversation. Each day represents a choice for HM on how it goes forward, and while I may be able to forgive any decisions made yesterday, I believe I have an obligation as a member of the alumni community to work towards a better action today.

To the extent that 'move on' phrase is some nice proxy for 'letting go', it is no more relevant to me than it would be to someone with a middle class income working on an anti poverty initiative. They have chosen to do something about poverty and selected a course of action from among imperfect and likely unsuccessful options. Do you tell them to 'move on' because they are raining on the 1%ers parade?

There is an important ongoing conversation. Horace Mann can choose to play ostrich all it wants. And survivors could all settle and provide waivers and move on in their personal capacity. And you know what? That conversation would still be going on and HM would still be one of the institutions at the center of it. That is just a sad reality of life in America where one in six kids is sexually abused and the abuse is hidden by perps and adults who can't deal. We are all now alumni aware that those dirty statistics touched our lives a lot closer than we may have imagined. And we know that adults concealed those heinous acts, protected abusers, and silenced survivors. And with that knowledge comes responsibility. All of which has nothing to do with 'letting go' or 'moving on.'

Peace.

Ben Field



posted at: 2013-07-01 15:27:00, last updated: 2013-07-01 15:27:52



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