I am frustrated. Admittedly, some of the frustration comes from a tyranny of distance. I am in southern Virginia and the diocese that I have an issue with is 400 miles worth of driving north of here. I would love to have a face to face conversation with the Bishop’s advocate so I could look her in the eyes and see whether she is part of the problem with the Diocese of Scranton, or part of the solution. I want to meet with the other victims of Father Gibson and victims of other priests in the Scranton Diocese. I’ll make the drive, but it takes planning and timing.
I am frustrated by the New York legislature, they had the opportunity to do the right thing with the Child Victims Act of New York and yet they still have not passed it. SNAP had a presence in Albany to lobby for votes. They asked for photos and people to come to the Capitol to put a human face on an inhuman scandal. I would have loved to drive to Albany to take part in the event, but I again, it was just too far at a time I needed to be in the office in southern Virginia. I don’t know how it went nor have I seen any reports or photos of the SNAP event.
I am frustrated with SNAP and the other organizations out there that are advocating for victims. SNAP is a national organization, but at the local level they are not always there. If you look at their website there are points of contact listed that are no longer active. To use a term my wife, Melissa coined, these sites are becoming “Cob-Websites”. I know that the heads of organizations like SNAP are trying to do the right thing, but I think that they are losing victims who are already hesitant to come forward, by having broken links and out of date contact information. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to speak for the first time and finding the point of contact you are trying to call is no longer there. That happened to me 2 years ago when I decided it was time to end my silence. The name listed on the SNAP website for this part of Virginia was no longer acting as a SNAP contact.
I am frustrated that for many people watching from the sidelines, there is a perseption that this is a Catholic Problem. It isn’t. It is a Baptist problem, a Jewish problem, a Mormon problem, and a Lutheran problem. It is a local, statewide, national and global problem. If you don’t believe me, take a look through Kathy Shaw’s blog Abuse Tracker.
I recommend that SNAP does what it can to energizes the base . The tools to do just that may be right under our noses. Computers, iPhones, cell phones, blackberries and other electronic devices can be employed to pull us together. The SNAP website offers hints on writing letters to the editor and handing out leaflets. That is all good stuff. But why don’t we connect all our blogs together?
A few suggestions:
For the SNAP Conference in Washington, DC over the weekend of 7-9 August why don’t we set up Twitterfalls to track what people are say and see how people are reacting to speakers and break out sessions in real time. Why don’t we webcast key meetings or speeches to the people that want to listen but can’t make it to D.C.? (That was an idea from Kay Eberling). Why don’t we have an interactive online community to allow for the free exchange of ideas, strategies, support and discussion? It could be a central location for blogs, allow people who don’t want to set their own blogs to submit articles when they are ready to do so. We have Bishop Accountability, Abuse Tracker, SNAP, FACSA and other websites, but they seem to be more for the presentation of information. We need discourse, interaction and community. We need to work on legislation on the state and federal level. We need to work together.
We will not succeed as a community in our search for justice and change if we are isolated from each other. So why don’t we use the computers in front of our noses to effect a change and hold the bishops accountable for their sins of ommission as well as their sins of commission.
My Twitter address is OffMyKnees. I plan on Twittering from the Conference in Washington DC this August. If you have a twitter account, follow me and I will follow you. We all need to start having a discussion, if we start with 140 characters at a time, at least we are starting.