Harvey Weinstein. Ben Affleck. Gavin Baker, tech fund manager at Fidelity Investments. John Besh, celebrity chef. David Blane. George H.W. Bush. Louis C.K. Nick Carter, Backstreet Boys. John Conyers. Richard Dreyfuss. Hamilton Fish, president and publisher of The New Republic. Al Franken. Gary Goddard, writer/producer. David Guillod, producer. Mark Halperin. Dustin Hoffman. Steve Jurfetson, founding partner of venture capital firm, DFJ. Ethan Kath, singer/songwriter of Canadian group Crystal Castles. Garrison Keillor. Andrew Kreisberg, creator of CW superhero series Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. John Lasseter, CCO of Pixar/Walt Disney Animation Studios. Matt Lauer. Benny Medina, Jennifer Lopez’s manager. Murray Miller, writer. Roy Moore. Michael Oreskes, senior vice president for news at National Public Radio. Jeremy Piven. Roy Price, the Amazon Studios programming chief. Brett Ratner. Twiggy Rameriz, former bassist and guitarist of the band Marilyn Manson. Terry Richardson, fashion photographer. Gilbert Rozon, comedy festival organizer. Chris Savino, writer/animator. Mark Schwan, creator of One Tree Hill. Robert Scoble, tech consultant and blogger. Russell Simmons. Tom Sizemore. Kevin Spacey. Sylvester Stallone. George Takai. Jeffrey Tambor. Glen Thrush, White House reporter. James Toback, writer/director. Bob Weinstein. Matthew Weiner, creator of Mad Men. Ed Westwick, actor in Gossip Girl. Leon Wieseltier, the former New Republic editor and senior fellow at The Brookings Institution.
#MeToo. They weren’t powerful men, a couple of them were teenagers, two were truck drivers. One trucker had picked me up at a truck stop at the Flying J Travel Plaza in Barstow. I was 17 years old, hitchhiking to Lubbock, Texas where an abusive boyfriend awaited my arrival. That truck driver pawned me off on some old man trucker because I wouldn’t have sex with him. The other one molested me when I was asleep. The others I gave myself away to because I wasn’t worth more than the back seat of a car in cotton field or behind a bush in a park. And I gave myself away because I was raised by a father who hated women, treated his wives, girlfriends, and his only daughter like the trash he believed us to be—and he believed himself to be.
There’s more to the story. My father’s father, Bellisario Cardone, was killed when my father was one year old in a car accident on Route 20 in Sheridan, New York, 1937. In 1938, one year later, my grandmother, Anita Cardone, was hit by a car crossing the street on her way to deliver dinner to her brother at the family owned liquor store. She bled out in the hospital. My father was 2. He and his baby brother were raised by aunts and their grandmother. Both parents dead when he was 2 years-old, my father never recovered psychologically from the trauma. It’s not an excuse for his behavior, but it makes sense that he had so little value for his life or the lives of others. He had lost hope.
Hope. Love. Joy. Peace. Those Advent Wreaths you’ve seen, the ones with the 3 purple candles, one pink and the big white one in the middle? Each of those candles are lit on the Sundays of Advent reminding us to stay awake, alert, in anticipation of the breaking open and breaking into this broken, beautiful world of hope, love, joy and peace.
Hope. I have a lot, in a very Buddhist, non-attachment kind of way. My own journey from internalized self-hatred, fear of abandonment, and that pervasive, unremitting belief that everything was my fault, to feeling some grace, love, and forgiveness for myself and others, was laborious, excruciating, and terrifying. The problem with transformation, though, is that we have to be open and willing to participate in the transformative experience. When the shit hits the fan in our lives, our culture, our world, we are called to begin the first leg of the hero’s journey. We will refuse because fear of the unknown far outweighs the pain of the status quo. Refusing the call is part of the deal. At some point, however, the pain and despair of staying where we are exceeds the fear of the unknown of the road less traveled and we become willing to step out. I wonder how many times we will refuse the call, how much more pain we will have to inflict on each other before we as people, a culture, and a world, will embrace the call and show ourselves to be the heroes that we are.
I have hope that it won’t be long now.