Readers write: February 7, 2022 issue

February 2, 2022 | Opinion | Volume 26 Issue 3
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Writers speak out in support of sexual-abuse survivor
A survivor of sexual abuse speaks out,” Jan. 10, page 13.

I love that phrase that you use to describe yourself: “a fierce pacifist.”

That is what I want to be, too, and yet it is sometimes just easier to be meek and go with the flow, to ignore things or situations that make one uncomfortable, that rock our little boats.

Yes, we need to listen, we need to speak up, we need to support victims, we need to demand justice, we need to be a friend! Thank you for reminding us.
—Helen Griebeling (online comment)


Whenever I read or hear about sexual abuse, I note the omission of any discussion about why it happens to begin with.

What is it about men, the male gender, that allows and encourages them to think it’s okay to do what they’re doing? It seems there is something wrong with the thinking of the males of our species. When will we start to address that?

It is never mentioned in any discussions about sexual abuse, and especially childhood sexual abuse!

We are still afraid to point the finger at the perpetrators (men), to get at the root causes and hold men accountable for these heinous acts. Oh, yes, we now mention the occasional hockey coach, priest, Mennonite minster, movie mogul or prince, but what about the thousands of children who are victims of fathers, brothers, uncles and neighbours?

The perpetrators are men, and until we have the courage to name that, sexual abuse of women and children will never stop. If we can’t name it, we will never stop it.

I acknowledge and admire Andrea De Avila’s courage in carrying on the fight.
—Hedie L. Epp (online comment)


Love this! Way to go, Andrea! Keep fighting. And love this message. Those who have ears, let them hear.
—Alison Ralph (Facebook comment)


Thank you for Andrea De Avila’s courageous article. . . . We must stand together for justice and wholeness for those of us who have walked this difficult journey.
—LaVerna Elliott (online comment)


My struggle with power
Let’s talk about power” feature, Jan. 10, page 4.

As an infant, I was born powerless and depended on the protective power of my parents. They gave me the building blocks to build a meaningful life. They used persuasion, common sense and example to guide me through my childhood.

My family attended a Mennonite church, which was lay led. The power was not in the hands of one pastor or bishop but shared with several preachers, who elected an elder among themselves.

I was “empowered” for the first time at 11, when the boys of our village elected me to be their leader in the newly formed Hitler Youth, where membership was mandatory.

I learned about abuse of power for the first time as a young recruit in the German army. The drillmaster drilled into us obedience, discipline and endurance, which, strangely enough, also had some positive applications.

After the Second World War, I completed my high school education in West Germany and, to my surprise, the graduating class elected me to be their class president. I accepted and did my best to represent the class.

There is a difference between an elected and an appointed leader. The power of the elected leader is accepted because of his or her wisdom, loyalty or dependability. The appointed leader has to earn his position. People will have to recognize his ability to lead, trust him and follow him willingly. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; my sheep recognize my voice and they follow me.”

In the creation story, God calls people to “subdue the earth and rule over every living creature.” Translated into our time, this may mean you use your given power to care for the well-being of the natural environment, even if it means giving up conveniences; and to care for all of your fellow humans. God calls us to love each other and love our neighbour as ourselves.
—Helmut Lemke, Vancouver

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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