It’s a new year, but what does “new” really mean? It’s hardly ever a new beginning when we twist the numbers one over again, it is only a new chapter in an old book we have been reading for too long. The story moves on, but it’s still very much the same story we have been reading for ages. It has the same characters, the same players, the same structure. And yet a new chapter can also mean bring a new development. 2017 was the year of abuse victims regaining their voices against sexual abuse and harassment, it was a new cornerstone, but does that mean anything in 2018? 2017 was our long overdue plot twist, but it ended on a cliffhanger, begging for a resolution. In the end, what can we take from the #MeToo and the #TimesUp campaigns into the new year? Where do we go from here, what lessons did we learn in the Weinstein aftermath and how do we handle the truth?
We are embarking on a balancing act in 2018. If 2017 has shown us anything, it is that we all can have a voice if we chose to use it. It has shown us that the media can indeed overcome its mainstream shackles and enable truth that bows to no one.
We have learned that we can demand justice in a system that seems so stacked up against individuals, but we also learned that the justice we so crave does not equal vigilantism. The justice we want to be served is inherently unemotional – it goes by the facts, it has to. Otherwise the very structure of our society is negligible. It’s here where we have to ask ourselves how to nurture and perfect this movement, and how to apply it and all its aspects to how we live and shape society in the future. The truth is a fragile concept that we must bend to our will.
Weinstein and #MeToo: The Power of the Internet
The internet is a dangerously powerful tool that can swing both ways. It has spread the #MeToo movement across the globe and caused the Weinstein Effect to sweep over to other countries where powerful men and women were confronted with their alleged abusive behaviors. Just at the beginning of 2018, a German director, Dieter Wedel, was accused of sexual assault and rape by several actresses inspired by the Weinstein scandal. This is one of the examples where the internet and globalization actually helped and encouraged change across borders for people to be finally brave enough to stand up for their individual or collective rights.
If we play this right, this could be the beginning of something new. It is important to stand for justice in areas that were previously oppressed by a powerful few – but so far we are only seeing movement in the media and in the high-society circles of life, as the Weinstein and several other accusations have shown. We need to carry over that momentum, look more closely, and be brave enough to step up. Be it gender equality, politics or business, it doesn’t matter. We have the tools to put the truth on loudspeaker, so why don’t we?
Justice is Blind
On the other end, accusations and the alleged truth have to be critically dissected. There will always be false victims and the wrongly accused. There is always those who undermine the collective good with personal agendas and individual gain. That is why we have to rely on critical thinking, natural curiosity, and our justice system with all its principles, however hard that may be.
This is not an appeal to Vigilantism, this is an appeal to uncover the unpleasant truth in the face of sometimes unbearable headwind and secrecy. And in order to be successful, it has to be done right. We base our justice on the phrase “Innocent until proven guilty“, and yet we rarely act on it. We are emotional beings that snap in an instant. We are biased, we are furious, we are angry. And we should be when it’s beyond a reasonable doubt. We don’t win a fight by alienating everyone based on singular accounts. We have to act as rational as we can, even in the most irrational situations, in order to claim the civilized superiority we need to evolve.
Gender and Race are of No Concern
There are a lot of gender-related claims going around, and yes, most victims that came forward were female. But why is this our point to make? Why do we waste our time on specific constellations, when it’s really an abstract concept we need to get rid off. Why are we discriminating against gender or gender identity or race or jobs, when it’s a question of creating a safe environment for everyone to not be subject to abuse of any kind. It’s an issue of dominance and exploitation that we need to transcend and view as a whole to fix. If we don’t manage that, what’s really the point? This shouldn’t be a gender-related issue or a brief phase, this has to stick. Our current situation, the truth, is far more complicated than the segmented world of issues we live in and try to fix every day.
We all want change, it’s what should make us stand up in the morning. We should feel different when we go to sleep, we should see progress. We laid down the groundwork in 2017, but now we’re starting to build a base we all can live with and continue forward to, hopefully, new heights. But to achieve them, we have to take what we have and make it work in a sustainable manner.
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