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Barrier to Reform: Can we all just get along?

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Thu Dec 20 2001 - 21:24:34 EST

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Good People,

I am still looking for some company when I return to the Federal
Building on January 8th.  Right now I just want to share a few
thoughts that I hope will resonate with some of you. If you are new to
the list, you may read the background at:

As we look at where we are in the movement toward reform there are
some great positives:

* There is a real awareness of the problems in Family Law.  Almost
everyone knows someone hurt by the system.

* There are a great deal of knowledgeable people who know the system
doesn't work.

* There are many people working at different levels to bring reform by
legislative and court action.

Perhaps the only thing missing is public action. The type of public
demonstrations that are a part of any Civil Rights movement. As you
can imagine, it is very important to all of us to see more people
involved NOW and I'd like to share some solutions to this remaining

Who's on the Team / Can we just all get along?
One large obstacle to public action is a lack of sense of "team" or
"union."  Right now we are just a bunch of individuals nursing our own
pain first, and not really willing to make Sacrifice (and experience
more pain) for the sake of:

* Those crazy Father's Rights groups...
* Those crazy Women's Rights groups...
* Those crazy collections of accused child abusers...yuck!

Some of the Men can't even stand to look at a scene of Mother and
Child happily together without some anger -- b$%tch!  And we're
sure many Women have experienced the same after seeing their child
"taken" by their former husband... creeps!

Come on, admit it you Men, deep down, you KNOW you'd be the best
parent! After all, who's the big bad hunter-gatherer! Ladies, that
child came out of YOUR body -- their YOURS, after all possession is 9
tenths of the law! We're talking a biological reality here!

Please, step back and remember the words on which our Country was
founded, "...all men are created equal." As we said in an earlier list
message, that is biological/psychological/social nonsense.  We are
very "unequal."  The real message is what, "we have a right to be
treated equally."  To the Founders of this Nation, we were all
children of the same God, deserving of the same opportunities.  In the
spiritual measure (the only real measure), we are equal and society is
at its best when it acknowledges that.

Good people, we are together.  We have a fundamental right to nurture
our own children.  Yes, we all admit that right now Men are much more
affected by the bias of the system than Women -- but the knife can cut
both ways and does.  Hopefully we all realize the solution will be
gender neutral and our best hope of getting there is by working
together. Opponents to reform are well aware of that, their best
strategy, "divide and conquer."

Moms and Dads, let's not help them. We have to get along and quit
looking for excuses to "snipe" at each other.  It's time to forgive and
forget.  You aren't required to prove someone else "bad" to prove
your worth as a parent.

Can I tell you that toward the end of November this little puppy was
feeling a little "down". I have lost track of the Judgement's against
me from both my divorce and back child support (must be OVER $40,000),
a suspended license for being a "dead beat", and no money in the bank
(or anywhere else), driving a 13 year old car. Her I am, 45, living at
home with Mom (85).  Just waiting for the next bit of good news, that my
ticket has been pulled in the Cancer Lottery...

I love to hear the financial shows about people planning for
retirement -- yeah, maybe I should think about that.  Looking forward
to walking alone into a Federal building in January and going to jail
again, maybe for longer, trying to change this giant system -- duh
right, lots of luck, gimme a break!

I was in Church, the very same home town church where my former spouse
and I were married.  I do the reading sometimes on Sunday and I was up
on the altar.  The very same altar where our wedding occurred 14 years
ago, Nov 21, 1987.  I could still imagine the scene filled with joy
and promise -- "God, what happened?"

There is something else I fully embraced in Church that day. All this
pain I have seen my child go through, I had the power to avoid. I'd
always told people how much it hurt me to see Dom go though so much pain
and crying -- without being able to do anything about it, this
terrible system of ours.

I realized I could have done something about it. Could have avoided
this tragedy in my son's life.  I had to take an equal share of the
blame and the fault -- and PLEASE, not just those 'resume' quality
faults... I was too naive, too trusting, etc... How about the REAL
faults: IF I had been more loving, IF I had been more willing to
compromise, IF I had more Faith, IF I had been more confidant in
myself -- none of this "needed" to happen.  My life would have taken
a different path.

Tell me, is that where all the "anger" comes from that we feel?  I
don't know about you, but I don't get mad about the things that are
unavoidable -- I may be upset or frustrated, but what can you do?  But
I really get steamed when I feel I should have known better. How
about you?

Now, please understand, what's past is past and as they say,
hindsight is 20/20. But there is a FACT there, I could have avoided
it.  Now is it likely I could have? Would it have required some
superhuman efforts -- maybe.  Would I have done some things differently
knowing what I know now -- you bet! I better understood the importance
of forgiveness and forgetting the faults of others (it helps us also
let go of our own).  But let's also be clear, being a parent is not
about being perfect -- it's about being human and making mistakes.
Nor is it a static relationship, you certainly effect your child --
but your child also works their magic on you!

I have to sometimes laugh when reading some of the email we get, as
hurt parents describe their former spouse as a drunkard, drug abuser,
general bum -- oh, and most recently, someone wrote in to say the
person they married was a "parasite" -- imagine that!  Don't you sort
of guess that former spouse was that way all along, but we were so
concerned about scratching our groins together, that it just didn't
matter at the time. (I wonder if Triple Medicated Gold Bond Powder
will help with that special itch?)

Do you accept 50% of the responsibility for what happened to you, your
spouse, and your child.  I'm certainly not saying feel guilty about it
now.  You did the things you had to do, with the knowledge and
experience you had at the time.  But before we can all move forward we
have to forgive our spouses (and also liberate ourselves).

I don't have a doubt the day is coming when some of you will have a
chance to testify before Members of Congress. PLEASE think about what
you are going to say.  Think about the past:

A Woman wanting the Right to Vote - "Well, I think brunettes should
get the right to vote now -- but the blondes should have to wait..."

A Black wanting a Seat in the Bus - "Well, I think we should be in
front, and the Whites should have to sit in the back."

Here is the secret.  The people that don't want reform are going to
sound like that and play upon every bias and prejudice there is.  With
God's help we can win, but we have to believe just having love for our
kids is enough. If we do that, those GOOD people who oppose reform and
just don't think it's "safe." --  Well, they may have a change of heart
also (they're certainly no more block-headed than we are.)

Faith & Sacrifice
I recently received an email from someone who counseled me, "John, try
to drop the scripture stuff, here are another few essays you might be
able to use...."  To convince people that by sacrificing a few days in
jail we can restore our dignity as parents -- if you have any like
that, please send them in!  Some people are still confused about what
NonViolent Action is -- one person thought it was the same as filing
motions in Court to get your kid back.  That if you were peacefully
working for reform -- that was NonViolent Action. No.

Our last Reading in NonViolence talked about the lessons of the Bible,
those traditions that have lasted for thousands of years.  Well, there
is one tradition that has come a bit out of vogue in Christianity --
the concept of "fasting."  Many of us have heard about the Moslem
Holy Month of Ramadan.  I have Moslem friends and I was amazed that they
don't eat or drink anything during the day!  Of course, with a bit of
thought I began to appreciate the significance of what they do.  Of
what many Christians used to do during the season of "Lent", before

You deny yourself some of the everyday physical comforts you enjoy as
a reminder that the ultimate reality is Spirit.  It is really putting
our Soul in "training."  I'm sure many of you have had some experience
with it. It is so simple sometimes.  Your tummy is growling and you
have to remind yourself why you're not going to eat right now.

The "core" of NonViolent Action is giving up something you don't have
to -- that you have every right to.  "Turn the other cheek."

Can you and I change this amazingly corrupt and entrenched system of
Family Law in this country.  I doubt it.  But we just have to remember
that Papa, God, can certainly help us and carry the day.  We just have
to take those first few steps, let go of the chair, and trust he'll
catch us.  That there is a Spiritual reality operating here that is
much more profound and effective than our physical actions.

The Future
So many of us don't what to do. If only we knew what it took to
get our kids back -- we'd do it!  Many of us feel that lying,
bitterness, and anger are actually going to help in that effort?

Do the right thing. You think a public "spectacle" is necessary
to be reform -- then let it be your personnel sacrifice for the love
of your children.  I'm having a hard time find parents willing to
carry pictures of their children to influence our elected officials...

But do you know, if I was trying to get people together for a rally,
to carry signs that "Judges and Lawyer are IDIOTS" around a Courthouse,
I could get more people involved -- does that make any sense?  Do you
really want to join in that?

I'm really not worried anymore about January (okay, maybe just a little
I'm ready to sacrifice for the love of my child with good intent, and
though some rough times may be ahead, everything is going to be
okay -- for Papa God is watching.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays
On Friday morning I fly out West to pick up my Son and then fly back
to New York for 10 days together.  Our first Christmas together, at
Grandma's house, in 3 years!  We are so looking forward to it. And
as I have told family and friends -- I have so much to be thankful
for -- I don't know where to begin...  I wish you all the same!

Here is a little something I found that may help put the focus where
it belongs:

"The MY Father"  -- anonymous

MY Father, who art in Heaven,
   hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
   thy will be done,
On Earth as it is in heaven.

Give ME this day,
   MY daily bread,
And forgive me MY trespasses,
   as I forgive those
Who trespass against ME.

And lead ME not into temptation,
   but deliver ME from Evil.


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