A few years ago I had to travel on the rapid transit for my work. On a busy day I walked to a subway station because I had to get some paper work in another part of the city. I remember a small crowd on the platform waiting for the train and I stayed higher up on the stairs to see the train when it came.
And then something caught my attention.
A young woman, probably a teenager kept pulling down her shirt, to expose one shoulder. A few steps from her was a young man, who I guessed was her boyfriend. He watched over her closely, and I began to realize that she was a prostitute and he was her pimp. They had brought their business onto the public transit system.
If you are wondering, they didn’t seem to get any business. In any city, the public transit crowd is short on cash and the couple’s “business model” was never going to work, but I was really shaken.
We all see the world in our own way, and I grew up in one of the worst parts of my city. I think I’m OK now, but I saw terrible things around me until I moved away; drugs, prostitution, assault and murder were common. Later, in the subway station I was angry because I felt like I was being pulled back in. I thought I had moved away from that dark place, and then it followed me, right into my work life.
I needed answers, and I got them from a friend who used to be a community counselor, and a warden with criminals in a mental hospital. I told him my story and and his answer was simple: “Those people don’t see the world the way you do. They see us as a resource to be exploited; we are not human to them.”
That fit with my childhood. My friends and I were someone’s resource. The little girl that I had a big crush on for many years probably became a drug addict and a prostitute, and she is probably dead now. No one has any information for me, but she was going down when I last saw her.
So have you heard of the “#MeToo” campaign? Women, and now men, are identifying themselves as victims of sexual harassment and abuse.
- Related: #MeToo: how a hashtag became a rallying cry against sexual harassment: The Guardian
We could rationalize this; some people crave attention and this is a trendy cause, and some people sell themselves to get what they want, like the young woman in the subway station; so maybe they aren’t really victims. We can explain this Twitter movement away, but that rationalizing is just a way to make the truth go away.
The truth is that we have this movement among us today, and it grew from a very dark place. In Canada we are learning that too many boys were exploited on hockey teams, so this is not just about girls.
If you are wondering, I was never directly abused and I didn’t pay attention to harassment, but I believe now that I was targeted. That includes a man in my church.
Last Sunday, our pastor reminded us that we need to hurt with the victims of abuse and harassment, and he inspired me to write this. If we will see the dark side, the prettiest parts of the world hide some terrible secrets; places like Hollywood with all those glamorous movie stars.
The Bible tells us that God will make us all right “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
I am learning why we need that message.
As you read this, if you remember some terrible thing that happened to you, or like me, you lost good friends, I hope that God will give you His correction. Ask Him.
If this all seems strange to you and you have never experienced anything like this, understand that someone near you carries a heavy burden. Ask God to show you what Christian kindness really is, in your circle.
I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! (Psalm 40: 1 to 4)