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Re: Does the punishment outlive the Offense?

Posted by ethicist on January 21, 2003 at 15:10:11

In Reply to: Re: Does the punishment outlive the Offense? posted by Acheick on January 20, 2003 at 23:08:44:

Yes, well I know I probably did not reply specifically to some of your points. Too much effort and thinking! -- and I'm too busy! As concerns the SGAs, well, they only enter into the equation in my view as they happen to be the main 'victims,' of the wrongdoing that we, as FGAs, committed and feel that we have to punish ourselves, or be punished for.

I am genuinely sorry for any way that I may have hurt FGAs during my time in the Family. But if the harm that I had caused extended only to adults and myself, I could probably get over it in time and move on.

But when the scales began to fall from my eyes some time ago, and I began to realise the enormous harm that I had inflicted on children in the group, if nothing else just by being an adult member who supported the organisation, well, then I entered a whole new dimension of guilt, horror, shame, and all the rest. It was/is a burden that I cannot easily shake. I joined this group ostensibly to do good and change the world, and ended up doing little good and a lot of harm to the weakest of the weak -- children trapped in an abusive system. We truly created a collective heart of darkness. When I think of it all, I am tempted to quote Col Kurtz in APOCALYPSE NOW: "The horror, the horror."

So, I feel that any discussion about punishment and an end to it has to take into account the victims of the crimes. In this case, in my view, the primary victims happen to be the SGAs. In my view, the degree that punishment will ultimately diminish is intrinsically linked to our willingness to acknowledge our guilt and responsibility, and do what we can to make amends to the victims. In my view, the more FGAs that come forward and say to the SGAs, "I was terribly wrong and (at least)partly responsible for the suffering you endured," or something like that, the more healing can begin to take place. We need to be vocal about it. SGAs need to hear us voluntarily verbalising admission of our guilt and responsibility.

As I said, I am not offering a reasoned reply to all the points you brought up -- more offering some random thoughts on a subject that pre-occupies me.

best wishes,

the E.