A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 290: Courage to Listen, Courage to Act

Meggie-Royer

Meggie Royer

“Me too” – Two small English words that are being used now to bring light and truth to a ghastly sickness in our culture. The number of women I know and care for that have posted this to their status on Facebook keeps rising, and with each one my heart breaks a bit more. I am angered. I am frustrated.

In case this is the first time you’ve been introduced to the recent “Me too” phenomenon, the status update has become viral following the sexual assault and harassment allegations brought against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. But it is not just tied into that man and his history of horrible behavior. In fact, that is just one of many straws that have piled so high that it seems that camel’s back won’t just break but explode. The Weinstein story has served to shed a light on something that cannot, must not continue: A toxic masculinity and warped expression of sexuality combined with massive male insecurities and abhorrent sense of entitlement. It is a culture that shrugs off rape, makes excuses for the basest of behavior and turns a blind eye and deaf ear to its victims. It is sick, period.

For God’s sake, enough is enough.

I have become Facebook friends with a poet I greatly admire, a young American named Meggie Royer. I’ve posted a poem by her on this blog before. As I’ve gotten to know her through her work, I’ve come to realize that she is another woman who has endured rape. By that I mean she has not only endured the horrible act of rape but all the surrounding awfulness that occurs, always to the woman and never to the man, it seems. To her great credit, and probably because she is an artist of considerable skill, she has taken that experience and turned it into art and action. Meggie works at a domestic violence shelter and uses her ability to express so many difficult if not impossible things for others to express. From a distance and across the internet, I have come to respect her greatly.

Today, and for the rest of this week, I want to share poetry that addresses sexual assault and harassment, and the sick culture that gives birth to it. It is art as communicator, helping others to empathize and experience; and it is art as weapon of destruction, to tear down this awful system in order to give rise to something healthy and equal in its place.  I asked Meggie for some suggestions and she provided some exceptional ones.

Here is a link to a poem she herself published recently. Please take the time to read it, especially if you know that you need to understand more what women who have been assaulted have gone through and continue to go through. All of us, but especially men, need to have the courage to listen and then the courage to act.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 225: Sunday God Quote – Meggie Royer

Meggie Royer

“I refuse to be the wounded woman on a cross
that you crucify with your disapproval like nails”

I believe in God. Yet I find that often some of the most beautiful and insightful thoughts on God, faith and spirituality come from people who don’t believe in God. It has made me greatly appreciate them. The perspective they bring causes me to ask important questions about my perspective. Sometimes an atheist or an agnostic can teach me far more about belief in a song or poem or work of art than a year’s worth of sermons.

For my Sunday God Quote I give an example of that kind of creativity. It is a poem wonderfully crafted but also very challenging if you happen to believe in God. But don’t take that challenge as an affront; instead, take it as a means to a deeper understanding – of yourself, of the world, of your God. And, perhaps, a deeper understanding of those who don’t hold to your point of view. Art is meant to speak from an infinite number of angles in order to build countless bridges between people. Ultimately, it creates compassion.

The quote below comes from Meggie Royer, a 22-year old poet from the United States:

“My lack of faith in God is not a dilapidated house.
It does not need to be razed to the ground or burned down to cinders.
I refuse to be the wounded woman on a cross
that you crucify with your disapproval like nails;
I will only be the woman who believes in thunderstorms
the same way lightning loves the tops of trees it strikes
every time it gets tired of being pent up in an unforgiving sky,
the only difference is that I believe these are natural weather phenomenons,
not God’s belly rumbling or synapses firing.
When my doorway is filled with groups of people
wielding religious conversion pamphlets like crossbows,
I will be the martyr who steps aside to let the arrows
crack through the plaster in my wall instead of piercing my chest.
This is not a eulogy to the believer I could have been.
This is a battle cry to the believer I always have been,
believer in sunsets like splashes of paint, handholding
like willow branches brushing one another, new mornings
after old nights spent drowning in despair, believer
in love as an entire language instead of a single word.
Just because my beliefs align themselves on a different spectrum
does not mean they are the wrong wavelength or color.
And even though I think the universe was created by the Big Bang
instead of a God with magic dust shooting from his fingertips,
my universe does not contain fewer stars.”

Meggie’s Bio:

Meggie Royer is a writer and photographer from the Midwest who is currently majoring in Psychology at Macalester College. Her poems have previously appeared in Words Dance Magazine, The Harpoon Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and more. She has won national medals for her poetry and a writing portfolio in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and was the Macalester Honorable Mention recipient of the 2015 Academy of American Poets Student Poetry Prize.