Sunday, 25 June 2017
Bearing False Witness - personal perspectives.
Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness - a personal observation.
The church group who sent me into a destabilising wave of post traumatic shock, by raising 17 year old matters to deny me membership of a discussion group, are about to discuss the Ten Commandments. Here are the thoughts I would share if I was invited!
"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour" is the ninth of the Ten Commandments which are widely understood as moral imperatives by legal, Jewish, Catholic and Post- Reformation scholars.
" You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit. " Exodus 23:1-2
Whatever the views which officials of St Mary's school and church expressed and reported about our family around the time of the Millennium - it is apparent that they were mistaken, misled or just plain wrong and that their witness against us was false witness. Our family were wounded and (because of the rumours spread about us) our children were bullied - it is hardly surprising that we were angry and felt betrayed by many in the church community. The now retired Bishop of Edmonton, the Rt Rev Peter Wheatley, apologised to our family for believing the headteacher and the acting priest in charge without undertaking his own proper investigations.
Our children have both graduated with first class honours and are building interesting careers. It is now known that what appeared as symptoms of chronic fatigue in both children were the effects of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome - and that I too have the heritable condition of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It is also known that our family is affected by Autism Spectrum Differences & Difficulties; our son has a confirmed diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome.
Awareness is growing of the overlap between Autism Spectrum Conditions and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It is apparent that families with members on the Autism Spectrum are frequently victims of misunderstanding and false accusations of child abuse. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/dec/26/autism-hidden-pool-of-undiagnosed-mothers-with-condition-emerging
Our family story led directly to a House of Lords Debate : Lords Hansard 17 Oct 2001 Column 645 and following.
Earl Howe rose to call attention to the damage caused to families by false accusations of child abuse; and to move for Papers.... I come now to the second major trigger for false accusations that particularly concerns me, and that is the condition known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy or MSBP.... The danger of such a broad spectrum of behaviour being packaged into a single portmanteau term, is that in the hands of those who are not sufficiently trained or experienced to know better, it is a label that is all too easily applied without due care. http://www.parents-protecting-children.org.uk/documents/Lords%20Hansard%2017%2010%2001%20(Cut).doc
In the wake of the Lords debate and with support which included St Margaret's URC Church, I founded the organisation Parents Protecting Children UK which now has an active core community and a Facebook following of almost 1500. Parents Protecting Children UK has contributed to government and other enquiries, research and conferences. We have supported numerous families with disability and chronic illness who have been wrongfully drawn into child protection matters. Several families have written to thank me for helping them be reunited with their children who, because of misunderstanding and misrepresentation, were in danger of being forced into state care or taken for adoption. https://m.facebook.com/PPPC.UK
I hope that nobody in the community of St Mary's will ever again bear witness in a situation where they don't have sufficient information or knowledge to understand the situation they are speaking about.
I hope for no further comments / actions / rumours about our family. Apologies would of course be appreciated.
" I think we should adopt a maxim in life that everyone we meet is unique, everyone we meet knows something we don't know, is slightly different to us in some ways. Don't see them as a threat, don't see them as the enemy, see them as a source of knowledge, a source of friendship, and a source of inspiration " Jeremy Corbyn Glastonbury 2017
"Nothing about us, without us, is for us."
("Nihil de nobis, sine nobis")
Jan Loxley Blount, 25/06/2017