The Tragic Commonality of 'Me Too'

At Common Party, our goal is to bring people back together in these divisive times through the celebration of our overwhelming commonality. But there is a widespread commonality that is currently being expressed which is no cause for celebration. That is the 'Me Too' campaign which is sweeping virally across our news feeds and which indicates the sad breadth of the problem of sexual harassment in our society. The ubiquitous post reads:

"Me too!

If all of the women who've been

sexually harassed or assaulted

wrote "Me Too", people might grasp

the magnitude of the problem."

The spread of this "me too" post can be termed viral in both its modern usage, i.e. quickly and widely propagating online, and its more traditional connotation, i.e. an illness that has afflicted a great number of victims with a seemingly indiscriminate preponderance. The incredibly high incidence of sexual harassment that the outing of Harvey Weinstein has revealed is a true blight on our country and our planet. It is a global sickness that is intolerable and inexcusable. The fact that so many women are posting "me too" is an indication that we have an all too common problem. That problem is a lack of common decency and common goodness. The fact that we as a society, and as a species, have not yet developed to the point where we recognize the basic rights of all human beings - regardless of gender, race, or creed - to be respected as equals and to be treated with dignity and decency, is a searing indictment and an indication of how far we have to go. This ability to persecute others on the basis of their gender is of the same ilk as that which enables us to discriminate based on color, beliefs, and affiliations. We compartmentalize and distinguish; we stratify and create hierarchies; we privilege ourselves and those who think, act and look like us, and then we degrade those who are other, who we deem inferior, weaker or less worthy. This tendency, this judgment (or lack thereof), is so common that it is threatening to tear us apart. It is a commonality that is worth identifying and admitting, but certainly not worth celebrating. Alongside the powerful and elucidating "Me Too" campaign that is alerting us to vital changes that must be made immediately in male/female relations, it may be worthwhile to suggest another type of posting that is similar but with a slight grammatical tweak that renders it somewhat more of a "mea culpa": I TOO. I TOO am guilty of judging others and treating those who are different from me with less respect and dignity than they deserve. I TOO can work harder to see the common humanity in others and to find the things we share rather than the points on which we differ, to be a unifier and not a divider. 'I' is a subject, while 'me' is an object. We have all been objects of others' mistreatment and judgment - "me too", but we have likely all also subjected others to indignity and disrespect that did not better the situation for either of us - I TOO. "Me too" reveals a common victimhood that needs to be brought to light in order to be corrected. I TOO can simultaneously express a sense of responsibility that says I want to be part of the solution. To be perfectly clear, this is not to suggest that women need to take responsibility for the misogyny and abuse to which they have been subjected. Rather it is to recognize the commonality of the "otherhood" mentality and the skewed power dynamics that have contributed to this disease of sexual harassment and to so many of the other social ills that enable us to treat each other with such disdain and disregard. The only way to assure that women are safe and secure and treated with the respect that they deserve is to promote and inculcate the inherent value of every member of our society, to train ourselves and others to know that we are no better or more entitled, and that others are no worse or less empowered. What Harvey Weinstein and other chauvinists, supremacists, and egotists like him divulge is a primitive attitude of self-importance and self-consumption. These inclinations are lodged in the darker crevices of each of us - I TOO have an ego and have occasional cravings for power and wealth and indulgence regardless of the consequences. The good news is that for the vast majority of us today, these inclinations are archaic and unacceptable, and we have a greater sense of common decency and common good in which we recognize that our health and well-being is contingent upon the welfare of all of those around us, regardless of their background, attributes, or perspectives. With this consciousness, we can look forward to a time when the "me too" of victimhood and discrimination is replaced by the "I TOO" of personal responsibility and communal accountability. It is likely that it is our girls and women who will lead us in this revolution. Therefore it is incumbent upon each of us to assure their welfare and learn from their strength, compassion, and intelligence.

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