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Harriet Berkal

Vilification and Vindication-Are You Dead Upon Arrival? The Miracle of TRUTH.

by Harriet Berkal November 15, 2018


My mother used to say: “If you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all !”
Ideally, that’s an honourable notion to adhere to, but in real life it negates speaking out and perhaps it even gives some a license to run amuck? There are certain occasions which warrant defending others who need to be put on notice.
I think perhaps each of us at some point in our lives has been misunderstood and portrayed in a less than admiring light to others.
Ever asked too many questions and been labeled confrontational ?
Even taken a stance on any particular issue and been called a trouble maker versus an advocate ?
When that smear is brushed across one’s persona, it cuts to the bone. It is often difficult to shift the dialogue away from the assaulted and distorted portrayal and adjust to a more forgiving one. You may be restricted for whatever reason from realigning the conversation. In essence, you have lost your voice.
We’ve seen much of this theme in the news of late. The #MeToo campaign has helped to bring the powerless to the forefront. He said/she said has created much controversy.
Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted.Bill Cosby got convicted and incarcerated and so many women who felt justice was served after decades of sexual abuse.Dr. Ford showed tremendous courage to speak out at the Brett Kavanaugh senate hearing. But her story was not believed by many. I for one believed her to be credible.


But we needn’t look further than our own communities and even within some families where dysfunction, ridicule and judgement run deep.

It takes very little for someone to poison the waters against a person. How do you have others see you differently or give you a chance to vindicate yourself ?
In divorces, friends tend to chose sides and evaluate how they came into the relationship and who they remain loyal to.
Weddings where two families come together is often a stressful time for the majority, even when all arrangements go smoothly. But it can easily take a turn for the worse and resentments build faster then Trumps wall to keep immigrants out.
I recall a friend who was having marital problems. Initially unbeknownst to her, her husband who was drunk - crossed a boundary and asked his daughter to airlift him from the marriage. Sadly the daughter agreed to help, instead of suggesting therapy or leaving herself out of her parents affairs. So once the wife found out, she felt deeply betrayed by her spouse and also horrified that her offspring would listen to the vilification, never hearing the other side at all-sentenced without a trial.
Ask yourself if you have ever judged someone based on how they dress,look, act, belong to a certain socio economic group or possess a certain title? Is someone’s personality strong where they aren’t afraid to voice their opinions ? Try and reflect honestly.
And then of course there are those hidden attributes like mental health issues or illnesses such as thyroid and/ or menopause, which affect ones moods yet these individuals aren’t cut any slack. If their challenges were physical in nature, would we be more compassionate?
Has anyone ever betrayed your trust? I’d say there is no feeling more unsettling. But how do they re-earn it after a violation and how do you move forward? It’s an uphill battle.
Life has placed us all on this earth. There are atrocities going on even as I write- things we can’t even imagine. We are so blessed to live in a civilized society compared to so many others. This is why it is perplexing to me how even with the luxuries we have - roofs over our heads, clean water and food to eat, we still have the potential to ravage one another.
A parent can instill the best values they have in their children. Sometimes, circumstances are such that despair sets in when their roads collide. Not all couples stay married and families are divided and suffer, when the very best intentions were there at the beginning.
People are accused and have no way of telling their story and never get true closure or vindication. It’s unfair but happens all the time
Don’t we all deserve the opportunity not to be condemned on a bias and instead have our actions speak volumes?
During the season of Hanukkah we celebrate miracles. Light the road ahead for someone you may have misjudged. Bask in the glow of tolerance as it is far too easy to gaze at someone and never let them shine.
Miracles can happen. It begins with truth, respect and listening. 
The truth can set one free. 

Happy Hanukkah.


"Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently - they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do."
 -Steve Jobs


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