People in power have been abusive forever. That is the nature of power. Some people are consciously and aggressively abusive, others are completely ignorant and oblivious to how and who they abuse. In Canada, child abuse was “discovered” in the late 1800’s and Humane Societies were formed to protect children and pets. Child abuse existed since the first child was born. Early humanoids snapped at their children like dogs. Through the course of evolution, babies adapted to resemble their fathers to help prevent those fathers from eating them. 100,000 years later, the keen observers of human nature in Upper Canada, recognized that the way some people treated children was wrong and harmful. The Canadians were not the first in history of the world to notice child abuse, but they discovered it early in their history.
The people who formed those Humane Societies were generally white and wealthy women. Although women were systematically oppressed in the social structures of the time, they wielded great power over the poor, downtrodden and non-white among them. The humane societies and religious leaders of the time, doing the good work celebrated in their social circles, decimated the Native populations, forcibly removing children from their families and placing them in residential schools where they were routinely physically and sexually abused. Canada has recently apologized to the Aboriginal people there for those atrocities.
In recent months, in the powerful United States or America, brave women have shared their experiences, facing shame and escalated abuse to help the world discover that they have been being abused by powerful men for a long time. NFL football players, powerful men in their arenas, are kneeling during the American national anthem to help us discover that African Americans have been facing abuse for a long time too. We are all powerful people in this world. Where we face greater powers we are abused. Where we face lesser powers, we abuse. With awareness of the power structures around us and an understanding that where there is power there will be abuse, we can employ compassionate action to try not to abuse people and to find support for ourselves and others when we discover the powerfully destructive presence of abuse.