It is amazing how often complicated things can become simple once you get an understanding of its concepts, flows or for that matter, formulas.
I remember a time whilst at school I was very distressed by the fact I could not get to grips with the concept of fractions. This fact was not helped by the poor and incapability of the specific teacher who appeared to take great pleasure in highlighting my inadequacies to the rest of the class. I can recall, with a great level of distress how he would make me stand up to answer fraction questions he would fire at me.
Well, I took the time one evening to sit with my adopted father who went to great lengths to explain, demonstrate and show the practice and understanding of fractions. The following day I attended the usual maths lesson, this time fully armed and equipped with my fraction formula. Much to the teacher’s frustration and I suppose humiliation I was able to answer his quick fire fraction questions with ease.
At the end of the said lesson the teacher asked me how I had ‘cracked it’ so quickly. I replied with the answer ‘I spent some time with someone who did what you were paid to do’. From that day forward, it was evident that both he and I never really liked each other much. I heard many years later that the said teacher eventually died from alcoholism. Let me make this very clear, it was not my fraction revelations that drove him to drink as I am sure (whilst I reflect on it now) that he had some form of drink problem way back then. The point I am making here is that his failure needed to be projected to some other place than his own. Perhaps alcoholism was his way of admitting to himself that he was poor at his job.
So how does the truth create hostility?
Throughout human history there has been a constant dialogue of struggles in one way or another. Even in our own life times we can identify some disruption or other based on the failing of minds meeting.
But, I wish to reveal a three-stage step to the discovery of truth. I recently came across a quote that seemed to offer a formula to understanding in the face of hostility
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)
For me this revelation seems to fit with every stage that I have challenged recently.
When I discussed the fact that men are also victims of female violence or men suffer with depression, I met three stages.
Firstly, there is an element of ridicule – “man up” or “don’t be so stupid”
Secondly, I have experienced hostile opposition – “how dare a male victim attempt to violate female territory of victim status”
And finally, acceptance as a reality – Letters of apology from specific organisations.
Historical example – Galileo
If I give the historical example of Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) you will see and understand that the modern approach to the truth has had a historical precedence.
In the Christian world prior to Galileo’s conflict with the Church, the majority of educated people subscribed to the Aristotelian view that the earth was the centre of the universe and that all heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth.
Galileo decided to challenge these perceived views and argued that the earth was not the centre pin of it all (heliocentrism). Opposition to Galileo’s writings combined religious and scientific objections.
Galileo – Ridicule
Religious opposition to heliocentrism arose from Biblical references such as Psalm 93:1, 96:10, and Chronicles 16:30 which included texts stating that “the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved.” In the same manner, Psalm 104:5 says, “the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.” Further, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place.”
Galileo defended heliocentrism based on his own tried and tested observations of 1609. In December 1613, the Grand Duchess Christina of Florence argued against Galileo’s theories with biblical objections to the motion of the earth. Prompted by this incident, Galileo wrote a letter in which he argued that heliocentrism was actually not contrary to biblical texts, and that the bible was an authority on faith and morals, not on science.
By 1615, Galileo’s writings on heliocentrism had been submitted to the Roman Inquisition by Father Niccolo Lorini, who claimed that Galileo and his followers were attempting to reinterpret the Bible, which was seen as a violation of the Council of Trent and looked dangerously like Protestantism. Galileo went to Rome to defend himself and his ideas. In February 1616, an Inquisitorial commission declared heliocentrism to be;
“…foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture.”
The Inquisition found that the idea of the Earth’s movement… “receives the same judgement in philosophy and… in regard to theological truth it is at least erroneous in faith”.
Galileo – opposition
Pope Paul V instructed Cardinal Bellarmine to deliver this finding to Galileo, and to order him to abandon the opinion that heliocentrism was physically true. On 26 February, Galileo was called to Bellarmine’s residence and ordered:
… to abandon completely… the opinion that the sun stands still at the centre of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.
Silenced to no longer question
In essence, Galileo was publicly silenced by the authorities for speaking his view of the truth at the risk of imprisonment or death for holding heretical opinions.
Although Galileo attempted to abide by his restraints he could not resist speaking directly to his challengers in the form of writing. As a result, the Pope called Galileo to Rome to defend his writings. He finally arrived in February 1633 and was brought before inquisitor Vincenzo Maculani to be charged. Throughout his trial, Galileo steadfastly maintained that since 1616 he had faithfully kept his promise not to hold any of the condemned opinions, and initially he denied even defending them. However, he was eventually persuaded to admit that, contrary to his true intention, a reader of his Dialogue could well have obtained the impression that it was intended to be a defence of heliocentrism.
Galileo – suppression
The sentence of the Inquisition was essentially in three parts:
Galileo was found “vehemently suspect of heresy”, namely of having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that one may hold and defend an opinion as probable after it has been declared contrary to Holy Scripture. He was required to “abjure, curse and detest” those opinions.
He was sentenced to formal imprisonment at the pleasure of the Inquisition. On the following day, this was commuted to house arrest, which he remained under for the rest of his life.
His offending Dialogue was banned; and in an action not announced at the trial, publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future.
Galileo – Self Evident
I suppose with our modern outlook of the world backed up with scientific facts we now readily accept the fact that the earth moves around the sun. However, we forget that to have established this truth an individual had to endure so much for what we now take for granted.
How does this fit with modern problems?
When I decided to write about my own experiences it came with some form of ‘shock and awe’. As I have stated so many times, there was and is very little published works of which I could compare my experiences with. This was as a direct result of social expectations. To clarify this, it was expected that to be a male you had to endure certain inequalities. Speaking out against this would ensure ridicule and hostility.
For example, when I asked for refuge against my violent ex I was faced with a brick wall of confusion. There was/is no emergency homes available for men because the perceived fact that male victims do not exist. By requesting help I was considered as troublesome because it flew in the face of established facts – of which are built on presumptions and not evidence.
I now know that I was not the only one to have experienced such negativity. The problem rested with the fact that victims were and are too scared to speak up. This created a feeling of isolation and vulnerability in a world that had collapsed within a moment.
It is only now by stating that I am recovering and survived that can I see the true cost of seeking the truth. It is expensive in more ways that financial. It tests your resolve, sanity and faith in everything you have understood to be right. By seeking the truth I was also searching for self respect and self worth. This is important because you need to know that you have a stake in a society of which you contribute to.
For me writing was my avenue of seeking these things. I have had to ask and look for answers and trust the judgements of those of whom matter. It is easy to say that I know there are so many other people out there seeking their own truths and understandings but it is a journey of seeking, fighting and accepting. Or to put it another way, ridicule, hostility and finally acceptance.
Every fight is worth fighting for if you know the truth is being suppressed and worked against you.
Talking about depression was also not perceived as being a manly occupation. Time and again I have heard other men talk about the concept of ‘manning up’. This in my view is a personal attack on the victims. It is wrong to refuse or accept the concept or fact that men also suffer with this debilitating illness. Just because men are not (and perhaps still not) encouraged to talk about it does not lesson the pain.
As I have stated in my previous blogs that if I tried to speak out or open up it was often suppressed or directly challenged. What made it worse was that it was not challenged by other men but by (certain) women who had claimed to be victims themselves. And here lie the similarities that Galilieo faced. He talked about a fact based on knowledge (and perhaps experience) and was suppressed by those of whom would lose their monopoly of power. I wanted and needed refuge in my hour of need. But because I did not fit into social expectations of victim status I was dismissed. In fact I am still awaiting domestic abuse support from the police six months after being promised.
The process of time
When being challenged with suppressive actions it can become exhaustive. Each minute can feel like a day but you only start to heal when know you are being listened to. Therefore, minutes no longer feel like days but finally feel like the sixty seconds it should do. This is not a quick process, like the formula states, but a time consuming, up hill struggle that feels as if you are stepping in uncharted territory. The fact is you are not, it is just that you have not met the other searchers yet.
#metoo – really?
I am all in favour of victims speaking out. In fact I encourage it. However, the recent explosion of victim status via the public arena of #metoo has completely missed the point.
A suppressed section of society is not allowed the privilege of being heard. Yet, so many victims are jumping on the bandwagon of victim status. I actually question how many of these ‘shouters’ as I should call them were actually victims in the first place. Yet, suppression has not allowed male victims to shout out about their victimisation for fear of ridicule or reprisals.
I hope that society will eventually mature enough to recognise that to be a victim does not require you to meet certain characteristics.
A self-evident society will and should accept that a victim is a person who has been subjected to an action or event contrary to their expected human right. Or a person that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment. There should be no pre-requisite of gender, sexuality, race or colour before you can claim victim status.
Like my maths teacher, he lost the upper hand when I worked out the formula. And here I have argued that the formula of truth does indeed come in the three stages as previously stated (ridicule, opposition and finally it is accepted as being self-evident).
This should be the Galileo status of it all making sense in the end. A victim (of anything) does not consider their status or position when they are taking a beating or being robbed etc. The future should now rid its self of the shameful act of ridicule and suppression. It is now time to embrace the fact that we are all responsible for the protection of each other.