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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
6:57 PM Mon, Jan. 21st

Editorial: How do we react to these sexual harassment revelations?

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” — Abraham Lincoln

Another day and even more names of people we know, and sometimes people we respect, are revealed. The consequences, for some, are immediate.

Matt Laurer, John Conyers, Roger Ailes, Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Jeffrey Tambor, Charlie Rose, Roy Moore and others have all had multiple accusers.

There are many more with a single accuser, who have admitted they did wrong, including Al Franken and Dustin Hoffman.

It is very likely there are names of people above that you disagree with, or don’t like their work, or whatever. However, it is also very likely that there is a name or two above of someone you did like, who you did respect.

This is a difficult time for us to live through, but it’s an important step forward for us as a species.

And the angst we feel having to process these daily revelations is nothing to the pain the victims of these powerful men had to endure, sometimes for decades.

Lincoln offered us great insight, perhaps he too faced temptations to abuse the power that he had. Put anyone in a position where they hold great power over another and see what they do. If many of us were so tested, how would we fare?

We are imperfect beings. We all face temptations and must rely on the support from family, friends, and our faith to overcome them.

If the allegations against the above men are true, and quite a few have admitted they are (though some deny them), where does that leave us?

First, though painful, this is a necessary step forward. The reason these men were able to get away with their sexual predatory behavior is because they felt immune to public shaming, shielded by their power.

That is no longer the case. Every man, and woman, who wields power now knows that it will not protect them. They can lose it all because of a moment of weakness.

That will help many to avoid giving into temptation and help strengthen their resolve when their own character test comes.

Second, as we’ve seen with the #MeToo hashtag, this is a moment of healing for many of these victims, who have had to carry this secret for years, feeling unable to talk about what happened to them with anyone for fear of the consequences.

They are empowered now, and the healing can begin.

As painful as these revelations have been to most of us, there is something good coming from the experience. Hopefully, more people in power will be able to pass their character test in part because they have lived through this experience.