|Back in the Day
By Paul Ashton, Psy.D., D.Min.
Consultant to the VIRTUS® Programs
The favors of the LORD are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; they are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.
—Lamentations 3: 22-23
It’s easy to see much of the “good old days” as better than today’s world. We tend to glorify the past and make it a place of warm memories, high moral character, and strong family values—a place, it seems, very far from our present time. People “back in the day” were more polite, more trustworthy, generous, helpful, and neighborly. You could trust your neighbors, friends were dependable, and family was the center of society.
You hear a lot of these stories when you present the Protecting God’s Children® program to a group of adults. People, not surprisingly, find it very difficult to hear and even believe the horrible things people do to children; child sexual abuse is a hard thing to comprehend. It is certainly unpleasant at best, and “back in the day” you never heard anyone speak of it. Like many “private” social ills, it just wasn’t something discussed.
Unfortunately, that unwritten rule was pervasive, thus facilitating acts of child sexual abuse and many other forms of abuse and neglect of the vulnerable. While, on one hand, people looked after their neighbors and attended to other’s children in the absence of their parents, some issues were off limits—things that others just didn’t get involved in. Generally, the family’s business was the family’s business—alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and any other number of “family problems” were only for the individual family to solve. Most unfortunately, this lack of intervention allowed many types of abusers to commit horrible acts against victims with little fear of negative consequences.
These “hands off” family rules also permeated the work and church environment where secrets were also kept and silence prevailed. Terrible acts of abuse were allowed to continue in the workplace, schools, churches, and general community.
There were brave people who spoke up but not without suffering any number of chastisements, including losing their jobs, bonds with family and friends, and their status in the church or workplace.
Today we stand on the shoulders of those bold individuals who acted on behalf of those suffering abuse. Because of their courage, we have a platform—laws, rules, policies, and regulations that assist us in the ministry of helping others to live, work, learn, and play in a safe environment. Following the hard work they began, we continue to strengthen the cause by adding our own sense of safety, care, concern, and love for all those we encounter.
While we lament the loss of the old days and the perceived purity and goodness they represent, we should not lose sight that the days of charity and kindness extended to family, neighbors, and strangers are not over.
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