January 27, 2018, Prescott-
I dropped off my customary load of old newspapers, at a local charity for battered women and their children, as is routine for me, on Saturday mornings. Next door to the thrift shop, there is a thriving donut shop, run by a young couple and their extended family. I went in there, as is also routine, and was greeted warmly by the wife, who apologized for not having enough coffee to fill my order, but graciously gave me an extra 1/2 cup, when the brew was ready. Shortly afterward, feeling the need for a more substantial breakfast than a donut, I stopped in another young lady’s shop and got an open-faced bagel, with lox and cream cheese.
Both young women are gorgeous, brainy, hard-working, and very much in love with their mates. I am there to support their dreams, and their families’ dreams, period. In the face of the recent conviction of former sports medicine practitioner Larry Nassar, for the serial abuse of young female athletes, a few observations:
Many people have an intrinsic fear of certain among life’s features- Financial wealth, personal success, good physical health and the presence of good-looking members of the opposite gender. I get all of this. “I used to be among the crowd you’re in with”, to quote Bob Dylan (“Positively Fourth Street”). Financial wealth eluded Penny and me, largely due to life happening, but also because of my own lack of financial intelligence. I didn’t think I deserved personal success, and lo and behold- there were plenty of movers and shakers who were glad to oblige me, in that deprivation. Physical health has been my strong suit, though the dental part of it had to be recovered, after putting my own needs on hold, during Penny’s long illness. I was blessed with a beautiful wife, and stayed with her, long after both of us found our good looks fading- because in my family, a marriage is for life, and besides- I love her spirit, still.
Outside of my marriage, though, there was a time when I felt myself undeserving of the attentions of attractive women. Some attribute such an attitude to misogyny. Perhaps, but I think that criticism is way too simplistic. No fear is about the thing that is feared. It is about the lack of self-worth, in the beholder. Beyond that, however, is this: Women have always been complete human beings, with dreams and goals that are every bit as worthy as those of men. That we men have often overlooked or discounted those dreams and goals is no fault of the dreamers.
I get that the condemned Mr. Nassar may have started off wanting to serve the population of teen women athletes. He may even have had twinges of conscience, when he first gave in to his lower cravings. Yet, it didn’t last. Women who should have been able to pursue their athletic goals, without hindrance from a source that should have been trustworthy, found themselves being treated like toys. Mr. Nassar’s reaction to their needs, and to their presence, became despicable.
I have worked with teens and young adults, pretty much continuously, since the late 1970’s. The bottom line has ever been, honour and respect; build, not destroy. If I inadvertently wronged anyone, to the “extent of a mustard seed”, that person got full amends.
I can only hope that the frightened, ravaged young gymnasts go on, to recover, to dream again and to live in fullness.