Peace begins at home

Last week I participated in an interfaith panel that was part in an all-day conference on domestic violence sponsored by Lydia’s House, an organization the Society is proud to support. Now, these interfaith panels are usually (in my experience) a bit of a showcase: a series of speakers earnestly explaining why their traditions are clearly against bad thing X (or for good thing Y, depending on the topic). However, in this case, every person on the panel came out and admitted that domestic violence is not an issue any of our communities handle well. Traditional religions have a lot of patriarchal sexism that feeds the problem and keeps victims from coming forward, but liberal religions have our problems too: “empowered” women can be ashamed to admit they’ve been victimized and often blame themselves, and “enlightened” men don’t like to hear about a topic in which the overwhelming number of abusers are men. It was depressing how far we still have to go, but the honesty was refreshing, as what we all had in common was denial in our communities that domestic violence was “our” problem. Those of us who affirm equality don’t like to be reminded that it’s not here yet for many women, in all kinds of communities, including ours. It’s easier to talk about war and peace far away. But war and peace begin in all our homes.