by: Laurel Dernbach
“Ich bitte euch ratet mir was besser ist... reden oder sterben.”
Das Heptameron by Margarete Von Navarra
Is it better to speak or to die?
For those that don't know, Oprah Winfrey won the Cecil B. DeMille Award for "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment" last Sunday on the Golden Globes. She accepted her award with an inspiring shoutout to all the women who have recently spoken out about their experience with sexual harassment, both mundane and in the lime lit world of Hollywood. When it comes to powerful men sweeping these claims under the rug, Winfrey proudly proclaims that "time's up."
I'll be honest and admit didn't watch the Globes live on Sunday, however after watching back the footage from Oprah's speech here, you can see every women in the audience entranced and empowered by her words. This is the power of truth. When you speak truth with conviction and authenticity, people cannot help but listen. Some people are empowered by this new-wave feminism and comforted by the idea that if something were to happen, there would be a group of supportive men and women behind them. Others, like myself, find it a bit scary. Yes, I'm comforted to know other women have spoken out and if I ever needed to, I could too. This being said, the large amount of #metoos is a bit suffocating, because I can't help but worry that a friend, a family member, or even I, hopefully moving to a big city like Seattle of Chicago in the fall, could be next. Sexual assault has always existed, I am aware of that, but the Time's Up movement makes it seem a bit more real and certainly impossible to ignore. To my dad, a smart and reasonable man, he claimed Oprah’s speech made him feel like he was being “lectured.” The truth is uncomfortable sometimes, difficult to fully grasp. This is also the power of truth. It raises awareness and creates a (hopefully healthy) sense of fear within us, hopefully driving us to, more or less, do better.
Another truth weighing heavy on my mind this week is Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name, a dreamy yet heartbreaking summer romance and coming of age story set in 1980s Italy. The beautiful clash of cinematography (2 hours of the Northern Italian countryside? Uh yes please), music (featuring The Psychedelic Furs and Sufjan Stevens), and flawless acting performances (Timothée Chalamlet is my new celebrity crush), this film left my heart so empty and so full all at the same time. I loved this movie because it's so genuine, telling a story that almost everyone can relate to, at least emotionally. Elio is 17 year old boy is growing up and like most 17 year olds, thinks he's already grown. He doesn't realize how much growing up he really has yet to do-- that's where Oliver comes in. Oliver, an American graduate student staying to study with Elio's family for the summer, teaches Elio what it means to really like someone, and then more importantly, lose them. In the end, Elio's father comforts him by saying, "We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster, that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything - what a waste! … Our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now there’s sorrow. Pain. Don’t kill it and with it the joy you’ve felt." And this my friends, is a brutal truth (at least I know it is for me). It's hard to feel thing sometimes. But the pain can only ever strike as deep as joy-- it's worth the temporary pain to fondly remember the joy.
Truth is powerful. It sparks conversation and lights fires in people’s hearts, from empowering women to recognizing how difficult it is to navigate growing up. Conversations about these real and important things need to be had openly, and home, school, church, wherever you’re most comfortable. Talking about things is how we grow as people, and believe it or not, you have your own truths to speak as well. Being able to have a person or group of people you can trust to say things like “My mental health isn’t good right now,” or “I’m sorry I’m not the friend/partner/child I want to be right now,” is critical to our development. Speaking truth is what makes it possible to process and deal with said truths, regardless of what they are.
“Stets werde ich meinen Freunden raten, zu reden, denn nur wenige Worte lassen sich nicht wieder gutmachen,”
I will always advise my friends to talk, because only a few words cannot make amends.
That is the power of truth.