An(other) early start for me this morning. It’s nearly Christmas and there just aren’t enough hours in the day at the moment! The week before Christmas is the second busiest week in my year (the busiest being Holy Week). So it’s a pressured time, but also one of the best times. As well as the Christmas preparations, a wedding and a funeral already this week, and I’ve been privileged to spend time with people at some of their highest and lowest moments. Life in all its fullness.
Anyway, this morning I was on BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day again. If you missed it, here it is:
It’s been all over the news for months – Harvey Weinstein has been faced with multiple allegations of sexual harassment against women. The first claim was big news of itself, but what followed was truly unprecedented. It was like a dam had burst – a flood of people from across all walks of life began to find their voices and speak out about the prevalence of the mistreatment of women: “me too”, they said.
This week Zelda Perkins, who used to work for Weinstein, has spoken out alleging that she was silenced by the system. In the late 90’s she made an allegation, received a payout and was forbidden to ever talk about what had happened. But this week she broke her silence. Speaking truth to power, she’s calling for a change to the law around non-disclosure agreements. They may be legal, she says, but they’re immoral. Truth should not be kept secret. In a move that was both difficult and risky, she made herself vulnerable for the sake of pursuing something bigger and more important than her personal comfort.
The Bible is full of accounts of people who dare to speak out against unjust and oppressive systems – of those who, like Zelda Perkins, are truth-tellers. The Christmas story is one of them. It’s a story of a teenage girl who dares to tell people that she’s conceived outside wedlock. It’s the story of a young man who risks dishonour by staying with his pregnant girlfriend. It’s the story of a baby who would grow up to be the most influential figure ever to live, and whose thirty-plus years on earth would embody and bear witness to everything that is perfect truth and love.
The life of Jesus suggests that humans, for all our vulnerability and frailty, are capable of extraordinary things. That unjust power structures are not insurmountable: they can be overcome when we dare to speak out.
Witnessing to the truth can be difficult, dangerous and costly. But it is also powerful, and transformative. Truth can shine a light into dark places, and the darkness cannot overcome it. As we approach Christmas, may we remember how precious it is to respect and support the people who speak truth and light.