A Tragic Loss of Life: Some Thoughts on Rehtaeh Parsons

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I have been asked to share my thoughts on what happened to Rehtaeh Parsons. I have been mulling my thoughts over for the last month. There was of course horror, shock, and anger. There was grief for the darkness of the last two years of this young woman’s life on Earth, and a sincere hope that she is happier where she now is.

My thoughts took a long time to coalesce because I wanted to write something that would not just address what happened to Rehtaeh, but also what happened to Amanda Todd, to Mitchell Wilson, to Jamie Hubley, all young women and men whose lives were tragically cut short.

I realised that perhaps the best thing that I could do was not to write about my horror, sadness or anger. It’s not because I do not care, or that I am over it. Rather, I am choosing to channel these emotions into contributing positively to the discourse on respect.

Why respect? Because ultimately, all of these cases can be boiled down to disrespect shown towards a fellow human being. These cases are more than expressions of sexual misconduct, gender inequality, homophobia, or cruelty. In Rehtaeh’s case, it was about a lack of respect from the boys, first by raping her while she was in a complete state of vulnerability, then taking pictures and videos of the rape, then by bragging about it, and, finally, by sharing the pictures and videos online.

I have been reading a lot about these abovementioned cases. The current, ongoing discussions touch on many facets: we should teach children empathy, we should teach them about gender equality, we should teach that homophobia is wrong, we should teach them about consent.

I don’t agree.

I think that children should have empathy, should consider men and women equal, and should love people of all sexual orientations as a natural result of a deep love for humanity. This kind of love cannot be nurtured as long as we remain out of touch with our collective spiritual nature. And it is our spiritual, higher nature that allows us to control our sexual urges; it is our higher nature that gives us strength to stifle feelings of cruelty; it is our higher nature that sees the soul that animates the body, whatever its sexual orientation.

For that matter, it is not only about parents teaching children things. It’s about teaching ourselves as well; it’s about creating a connection with our spiritual nature, and continuously strengthening it by asking ourselves if our actions reflect our spiritual noble, real selves. When we are raping someone, are we acting as noble, spiritual creatures? When we are judging someone by their sexual orientation, are we acting as noble, spiritual creatures?

Nurturing our spiritual nature would put us back in touch with our Creator, and through our love for Him, we would naturally love everyone around us. And that would be the single most powerful step toward creating a world where Rehtaeh, Amanda, Mitchell or Jamie would not have had any reason to take their own lives. And it is only fitting that in their memories, we strive to create such a world.


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