Opinion

Light vs. dark in Federal Way | Johnson

This time of year, the holidays are everywhere, and with them, the age-old story of light versus dark, like a familiar fairy tale.

On one side, there are holly-jollies, lights, parties, presents, good cheer, and renewal of faith.

On the other, there are charities fighting to help those in darkness: those living with hunger, those who live on the streets or other people’s couches, and those who abide with abusive partners.

There are those who are addicted, and hopeless, and seemingly beyond redemption. This time of year, we want to believe light will win.

In 2012, right here in Federal Way, there have been teens who have become pregnant, young people who have been trafficked for sex, and children who have been abused at home. There have been rapes and sexual assaults. There have been teens and adults who have been physically, emotionally, verbally and sexually abused by partners who profess to love them.

There have been youth who have been bullied for their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity. Young people in our schools have desperately sought a safe place to come out as who they really are. There have been youth and adults who have been coerced into doing things in relationships that make them uncomfortable or unsafe. There are young people who are contracting diseases because of ignorance and lack of education and arguments over who has control of when and what life-saving information will be shared. There have been dark and bleak times in our city.

And yet.

In this same community, there have been parents who faced their fears and talked deeply and often with their children about relationships, safety, protection, sex, and values. There have been educators and nurses and agencies that made sure youth had resources they needed to keep themselves safe. There were counselors and social workers who protected children from abuse and got them to safety when they were abused. There was a growing coalition working with law enforcement, schools, agencies, and parents to educate our youth about trafficking.

There were attorneys and judges and faith communities and support groups that strove to educate and eliminate domestic violence. There were schools and agencies working diligently to reduce bullying and increase teamwork, compassion and camaraderie. There were churches and organizations that provided food and shelter and blankets and socks to those who found themselves homeless.

There were people who provided education and protection for sexually active youth.  There were GSAs (Gay Straight Alliances) in high schools with advisors who provided a safe place for youth to say and be who they are.

There was at least one faith community who welcomed a youth who came out to them during worship, and there were at least two local churches that rejoiced at the passing of Referendum 74 and the ability to legally marry same-sex couples, some of whom had been together for many years.

Amidst all the fear, doubt, abuse, and ignorance all around us, there are shining beacons of light and love.

As the 2012 chapter of this age-old story comes to a close, it is up to each and every one of us to choose how the Federal Way version of this tale continues.

It is not enough to be thankful for those who are on the front lines and fighting these fights every day. It is not enough to hope for things to get better. It is imperative that each of us determine what we can do to make the next chapter one of education and light and hope and acceptance and love so strong that it breaks up the fear and hate and darkness around us.

Welcome home.

 

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