What Begins at Home
Our guest blogger for today is the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer of The Episcopal Church.
Charity, my mother used to say, begins at home. I was never entirely sure what she meant by that, but I think it had something to do with making sure family were the first recipients of generosity. Perhaps she meant that home was where charity is learned. In any event, I think her wisdom about charity might just as well be applied to violence.
Violence begins at home, too. It is quite often where we learn it. It represents just as often the recipients closest at hand. In either case, I am convinced that the violence in our culture originates in our homes, which, after all, are the building blocks upon which our culture are built.
There can be no addressing of the violence all around us or reclaiming of the gospel of peace unless we begin with violence at home, which is almost always gender-based. It is up to us to remember that what begins at home can just as surely be ended at home.
As families around the country gather on Thanksgiving and the holidays to follow, a great many will face being the beginning of violence as well as the opportunity to be its end. May our holiday commitment be that violence ends at home. Violence ends at home so that charity may begin.
We thank Bishop Stacy for his reflection and his support of the 16 Days campaign.
We’d also like to give thanks for the men and boys around the world who have taken a stand against violence against women and gender-based violence. Here are a few resources that highlight the important role that men and boys play in this work and provide support for the work that continues.
Created in God’s Image: From Hegemony to Partnership, A Church Manual on Men as Partners: Promoting Positive Masculinities: This resource from the World Council of Churches lifts up work that has been going on in the global ecumenical movement for years and provides theological and training resources and lots of food for thought. As the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, notes in his introductory message, “’Positive masculinity’ and the potential for full partnership between men and women has been the theme of recent study within the ecumenical movement, particularly in the WCC’s programmatic work on women in church and society. We have been seeking ways of building a “just peace” community of women and men, in which men play their role side by side with women, in nurturing mutual partnership and especially in ending violence against women.”
We’ve mentioned the White Ribbon Campaign several times this week and invite you to learn more about it. The Canadian campaign has a resource called Engaging Men and Boys to Reduce and Prevent Gender-Based Violence which contains a great deal of important information. In the introduction, the authors write, “While most men may never use or condone the use of violence, the simple fact is that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of gender-based violence. The root causes of gender-based violence can almost exclusively be narrowed down to two things; the fundamental condition of gender inequality for women, and the violent, harmful and controlling aspects of masculinities which are the result of patriarchal power imbalances.” The Engaging Men and Boys document has 3 theses: Work with men and boys is necessary; Work with men and boys can be effective; and Work with men and boys can have a positive, transformative impact for the lives of women and girls, but also for the lives of men and boys.
Many male bishops and archbishops around the Anglican Communion have signed the White Ribbon pledge to “never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women.” You can see a picture of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and Bishop Garth Counsell of Table Bay, South Africa signing the pledge in the Anglican Communion Office’s 16 Days resource. We’d also commend to you Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada’s 2011 article from the Anglican Journal in which he reflects on signing the White Ribbon pledge. He writes, “In the spirit of our baptismal promise “to respect the dignity of every human being,” I hope we will all embrace this solemn vow with genuine passion and integrity. For deep within it lies the sanctity of human life, beauty before God and mutual respect, one for another.”