In the wake of all the recent abuse allegations, comedian Sara Silverman posed this question, which was widely reported in the press, and resonated with something I have often felt: Can you (or is it OK to) love someone who did bad things? For me, the answer is always going to be a resounding “yes”. Don’t we try to teach our children that it is their bad behaviour we don’t like, not them? Given how flawed so many of us are, doesn’t it also follow that we still need and want to be loved, even if we’re far from perfect? The demonisation of all of the recent perpetrators of bad behaviour is worrying. Yes, it is absolutely necessary to expose and discourage abusive or unwanted sexual attention and to ensure that abusers face the consequences of their actions – but does bad behaviour make someone a complete monster? Does it mean they have no redeeming features? Are they unlovable? Are we not allowed to love them? That’s what I liked when Sara Silverman’s discussed her love for fellow comedian, Louis CK – her contrasting, but not conflicting, feelings of disapproval and love.
‘Don’t we try to teach our children that it is their bad behaviour we don’t like, not them?’
When I was growing up, I learned early on that many of the ‘responsible adults’ in my life weren’t very reliable, and in some cases, not to be trusted. Yet, in the main, as I got older I was able to separate out my hurt and anger from my need to love those I wished to love. I chose to forgive them, rather than continue to bear the burden of my own rage and pain. Some things (and people) remain unforgiven, because what they did was unforgivable, but that is a choice for each and every victim to make, not the media or the public.
Later this week, at an evening of ‘Memories’ hosted by Bristales in Bristol, I’ll be sharing a memoir about my father that demonstrates the love I felt for him, despite his many failings. I know how greatly loved he was by many, but also, how hurt others have been by his actions. Our story isn’t like the ones at the heart of the current media storm, he was wild and sometimes neglectful, not abusive – although my mother, were she still alive, might not agree. But my relationship with her is a whole other story!
“.. A great big bear hug from my old Dad was the true currency of love.” (Colours – a memoir of my father.)
The key for me has always been, and still is, to follow your own heart and love whomever you love. They may not live up to your expectations, they might let you down, they might even do “bad things” – but no-one can tell you who to love, and, let’s face it – it’s pretty hard to stop loving someone. Does the mother of a killer stop loving her child? The sister of a drunk driver? The friend of a felon?You may not like things about someone, you might even be rightfully angry and judgemental, but yes, of course you can still love them.
An evening of Memories – Bristales, The Room Upstairs, The White Bear, 133 St. Michael’s Hill, BS2 8BS Bristol. Friday 24th November 2017, 7 – 9.30pm. Tickets on the door or book here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bristales-memories-tickets-39881169652