by Paul Serran
Now that the hour of reckoning has come to Allison Mack, we find that the women whom she and Raniere victimized have been talking to the press, asking for stiff sentences to be handed to her.
While that is hardly surprising, it seems that these women are losing a golden opportunity to bring about some healing, and instead are piling on with the hatred and vengeance feelings that will help no one in the long run.
Foremost English poet of the early 18th century, Alexander Pope, one of the most quoted authors in western culture, reminds us that “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
This divinity seems to be lacking from the media appearances by India Oxenberg, Jessica Joan (Jay) and others.
When she plead guilty, Mack “acknowledged the wrongs and trauma inflicted on Jane Does 5 and 8 (Nicole and Jay) which resulted from her involvement with Raniere”.
The defense memo states with appropriate clarity: “Ms. Mack acknowledges that she is responsible for engaging in serious criminal conduct.”
“Now that the blinders of the Nxivm cult have been removed,” defense argues, “Ms. Mack recognizes that her actions were abhorrent.”
When confronted with a clear admission of guilt of this order, the appropriate response is hardly to add fuel to the bonfire of hatred that has been built around what Edgar Bronfman, Jr. called ‘a cult’, and Judge Nicolas Garaufis defined as ‘a pyramid scheme’.
These victimized women forgot how to ‘Hate the sin, [but] love the sinner’. They are choosing the quick satisfaction of seeing a perceived enemy burn, over the long lasting benefit of doing the right thing – the healing thing – for them and for society.
It is also disturbing that both India and Jay have, in their own way, become ‘professional victims’, setting up some sort of career as ‘personalities’ with this background.
They would be in a perfect position to bring about the healing by a display of inner force. Yes, because “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British rule.
Even when taking solely into consideration the question of self interest, showing forgiveness now would be the best play in the long run. Irish poet and playwright, very well remembered for his epigrams and plays, Oscar Wilde suggested “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.”
India Oxenberg’s take on her former friend Allison Mack’s sentencing is relevant, for Mack was India’s master in DOS – and quite a strict one, too. In her ‘Victim Impact Statement’ at the Raniere sentencing, India wrote: “I felt obligated to engage with you [Keith] because of the blackmail, and saying no to your advances meant consequences and punishment from Allison Mack.”
English poet, painter, and printmaker, considered by some to be ‘far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced’, William Blake knew that “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” And that seems to be at play, here.
India’s take on the measure of the responsibilities is spot-on. “Even though Allison is going to be sentenced and she has done and committed crimes, I don’t see her in exactly the same way as I see Keith. I see Keith as ultimately responsible for everything.”
“And so there’s a lot of mixed feelings of what she ‘deserves’,” India told the press, “and I do that in air quotes because that is not my place to pass that judgment.”
However, in her next comment, India seems to forget Mack’s behavior post-plea, when she says: “I just think that if she hasn’t been able to have any kind of recognition of the wrongdoings, then she is an unsafe person, period.”
Doubling down on her unwillingness to acknowledge Mack’s mea culpa, she adds: “If you can’t see that you’ve hurt people, then you can’t really be in society, you can’t play in the playground, in simplest terms.”
The leader in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” And it’s about time someone starts the loving, healing trend.
Model and actress Jessica Joan, a DOS member who fled the cult before her branding ceremony, justifiably has strong feelings about Mack’s sentencing. She says Allison Mack is a victimizer and must be held accountable for her role in DOS.
Joan escaped the group when Allison Mack gave her a ‘special assignment’: seduce Keith Raniere. “It was horrifying in that moment. It was a very serious level of betrayal because I trusted Allison. We built a friendship.”
Joan hopes that justice is served to Allison Mack. But until her sentencing date, ‘it feels like being in limbo’. “I’m definitely looking forward to that day happening and having another door of this closing and really being able to put it behind me.”
The way to put the pain and the trauma behind is by forgiveness, not by the cheap satisfaction of watching the wrongdoer burn. In the wake of the release of her book “The Untouchable Jessica Joan”, she will be in the media reliving these painful events on a daily basis. It seems that she’d be the prime beneficiary of the cleansing that forgiveness can bring.
We haven’t heard from Nicole, who testified at the trial of Raniere. Whether she will make a public statement or appear in person or have her statement read remains to be seen.
In her trial testimony Nicole described Mack as having manipulated her into a sexual relationship with Raniere. The jury found this incident to be sex trafficking – the most serious charge sustained against Raniere.
The fact that so far Nicole has not piled on the attacks on Allison Mack, pre-sentencing, may be significant. Maybe she can the greatest person in all that, and bring forth the healing. Let it begin!
“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Finally, forgiveness shows greater strength.