Warnings … why we need to break the silence

My thanks to Moira Finley for allowing me to print the poem written last week called “Warnings” but also my thanks for her ministry to each of us and all of our culture about violence against women. Has your community of faith had “Break the Silence Sunday … Saturday … Friday?” Moira gives this as her biography.

Moira Finley is a the pastor of two U.C.C. congregations in rural northern Wisconsin, a poet, and a rape survivor.Originally from New Mexico, she attended seminary at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. She believes that each person’s story matters, that there is great healing in having our stories heard with listening and compassionate hearts, and that we are each called to work together to integrate our stories with our faith journey. She is passionate about working for justice, and helping the church respond to the needs of survivors of sexual violence.She loves to garden, read (mostly British mysteries), spend time with friends, snuggle her kittens, and paint. You can contact Moira at pastormoira73@gmail.com and learn more about her work on behalf of survivors of sexual violence here

“Warnings” by Moira Finley, 10 February 2017

On Tuesday February 7th, 2017 the U.S. Senate was debating the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R – AL)for the position of Attorney General. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – MA) attempted to read a letter from Coretta Scott King into the senate record. The letter, written when Senator Sessions was being considered for a position as a federal judge in the U.S. District Court of Southern Alabama in 1986. Senator Warren was silenced under Senate Rule 19, and barred from speaking further during the debate on Senator Sessions’ confirmation. During the remainder of the debate Senator Bernie Sanders (I – VT), Senator Tom Udall (D – NM), Senator Sherrod Brown (D – OH), and Senator Jeff Merkley (D – OR) were all able to read the letter, or portions thereof, into the senate record without interruption. They are all men. In responding to the silencing of Senator Warren, Senator Mitch McConnell (R – KY), who is Senate Majority Leader, said “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” Senator Sessions was later confirmed by a vote of 52-47.

I warned you, he said,
throwing her against the wall,
the children were being too loud;

I warned you, he said,
breaking her favourite things,
dinner was five minutes late;

I warned you, he said,
drawing a knife across her throat,
it’s your fault I lost my job;

I warned you, he said,
taking all her money,
don’t talk to strangers at the grocery.

We warned you, the judge said,
he couldn’t help it,
you led him on,
what did you think would happen,
why are you trying to ruin his life,
boys will be boys.

We warned you…
don’t talk about it;
don’t go out after dark;
good girls don’t drink;
keep your legs closed.

We warned you…
lose weight;
wear makeup,
but not that much;
wait until you’re married;
real women don’t do that.

We warned you…
you have no rights here,
it’s a man’s world,
you’re just decoration,
no matter your brains.

We warned you…
keep quiet,
don’t embarrass us,
don’t speak out of turn,
know your place.

We warned you,
and you didn’t listen,
so you suffer at our hands,
and still you don’t learn,
your daughters,
and sisters,
your nieces,
and friends,
keep raising their voices,
petitioning for the rights
they were born with,
persistent,
demanding
a self-evident equality
from men
whose hearts are full of fear,
too scared
to open their hands,
and share.

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2 Responses to Warnings … why we need to break the silence

  1. Terry Farish says:

    Thank you Moira, and Maren for letting us hear this poem. You assure I will never forget the history behind McConnell’s words and what Jeff Sessions represents.

  2. Maren says:

    Terry, thank you. Did you see that Maria reviewed Neither the … Yesterday on Books J’adore yesterday! Brava!

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