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NonViolent Action: How much do we really believe reform will happen? (II)

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Fri Sep 20 2002 - 14:15:30 EDT

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Good People & People of Faith,

Before getting into this message I just wanted to take a moment to
thank the people that emailed me after the last message. I should be
able to reply to all the messages by the end of this weekend (if you
don't hear anything by Monday, please resend since your message might
have been lost).

* Last Weekend - As I think I have said a lot of times on the list.  I
was very thankful for a great weekend with Domenic (age 9), my "sun."
Even though we are separated by over a thousand miles, we have kept a
close relationship. Hearing so many of your stories, I am so thankful
for that!

* Wednesday (Sep 18) - I appeared in front of Federal Magistrate
DiBianco for the Northern District of New York. Asst. US Attorney
Southwick explained the government's desire to prosecute the case.
The charge is violating building rules.  A trial date of Oct 9th at
2pm is scheduled (no jury due to the minor nature of the
offense). Expect a list message next week with details on this, also
check the site: http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionc_syr

* Thursday (Sep 19) - I returned to the Federal Building ready to
continue our efforts for Congressional Hearings into reform.  I was
detained by building security as usual and they called the City Police
to take me to jail.  The City told them their had been a shooting.  A
young boy had been killed and the force was pretty busy. They would
not be able to respond till evening.  Federal security asked me if I
would just go home for the day, that it would make things easier, and
just come back next week.  I was also pretty tired from trying to
catch up from the weekend -- so it was easy to agree.

* Monday (Sep 23) - I will be returning to the building at 1:15PM on 
Monday, Sep 23. (Hope to see you there!)

A Starting Comment
I did get one comment that came in last Friday from John Graboski
( that I thought would make a good start to
this message:

> 1.  The Senator couldn't care less about your plight.
> 2.  Do you realize how many people you offend with the word "Faith" ?
There are millions of people in North America that don't have your
> 3.  Not learned your lessons on "non-violent" demonstrations, have you
> 4.  Do you ever realize that you are getting very "wordy" lately ? 
> Just how much longer will it take for you to recognize that it's
> VOTES that count, not petitions ?  If I only, just for a day, I had
> your ability to do what you could do, I'd give you my right hand.

I guess I have to start with the "wordy" part.  It's a good point, and
someone else said I should edit for "brevity."  I hate to say it, but
this message is also long.

I have to thank John for his comments about "Faith", that is actually
the topic of this message and it may need some introduction since many
people are new to the list.  Our group (AKidsRight.Org) is about
NonViolent Action as practiced most recently by Gandhi (A devout
Hindu) and Martin Luther King (A devout Christian).  When I write on
the list I use examples from Christian traditions because I am
familiar with those (as are most of you).  We certainly would run a
message submitted by people of other Faiths.  We ARE NOT trying to
convert people to Christianity.  Your beliefs are your business.

The successes of NonViolent Action in the past have all been
movements based on Faith (or maybe it should be said, people who
really believed?). We have an excellent background section at the site
and a bibliography (http://www.AKidsRight.Org/civil_back.htm).

My motivation for this message -- the events of the last few weeks.  I am 
looking at two upcoming trials in both Syracuse City Court and US District 
Court and it doesn't look too good for the home team!  There could be jail time
and a criminal record. Imagine that?   This does not come as a surprise
to me, and when I started my efforts years ago I had prepared myself
for the "worst case scenario."   But still, it is a bit frightening to see parts
of that coming true.  I had also hoped that by the times things would get
to this point, I would not be the only one. My thoughts have certainly turned 
to Faith and my loving Father.  It is time to really believe.....

As always, your FEEDBACK is welcome!

What do you believe?
I heard a sermon a couple of weeks ago that really got me thinking and
provided the start for this message. She said:

"One Sunday a chaplain from a hospital gave a homily and related an
experience regarding a family he had met in the hospital.  Their
husband/father was undergoing dangerous surgery, and midway through
the long operation a surgeon came out and told them it did not look
very good at all.  The mother then said to her children, we have been
praying for dad, but we must pray harder -- and they did.  The man 
recovered and did very well....

But, I remember seeing a teenage boy in the Church that day and he
had tears in his eyes. I knew the boy, he didn't have a very strong
faith and his father had recently died in the hospital. I'm sure
he was feeling guilty and thinking about what whether he prayed hard

She then went on to say that sometimes God doesn't answer our prayers
and you should NEVER think that your prayers aren't answered because
you didn't pray hard enough.  Accept what may happen and be content in
God's love.  Trust that after death you will experience eternal bliss.
Some people call this, "Pie in the sky when you die."

What bothered me was the "resignation" that God can no longer be
expected to act in human events, in your life.  In many ways it almost
sounded like relief -- imagine that!  It's a much more reasonable and
comfortable Faith. More realistic expectations. More modern?

It made me think about Faith and also what I believe, and what I
really, really believe.  That is what this message is about.  To make
NonViolent Action work you need to really, really believe.  You need
People of Faith. You don't need a lot, but it takes a few to get the
ball rolling.  Some of this has made me feel very uncomfortable as I
think about my Faith, and I hope this message may help some of you may
share that same discomfort!

Faith, Belief, & How many of your prayers have been answered?
That's a good question.  You see, I really couldn't relate to the
person giving the sermon. I was really surprised to hear that people
don't get their prayers answered by God.  Heck, all of my prayers have
been answered -- and -- as a friend of mine used to say, "in about 95%
of the cases the answer was NO!"  How about you?  I have to say I've
been disappointed, some of the things I was praying for were really,
really good stuff, but still, "the answer was NO!"

Of course, some of us are ready to move beyond these simple concepts.
We know God and Faith are very meaningful paradigms.  They allow us to
transform ourselves and our behaviors.  They tap into internal
resources of our psyche that science is only now beginning to
understand.  They have a real transformative effect not only on
ourselves, but on those around us. But is there a heavenly switchboard
with a bearded old man at the phones -- get real!

But I have to ask you, do you really believe that paradigm stuff? I
wanted to ask the lady giving the sermon, "Do you really believe what
you are saying?"  I went to a conference and saw someone sit on the
floor with one hand on the ground and one in the air and say, "I am
connecting to the energy of Mother Earth and Father Sky?"  I kept my
mouth shut, but I really wanted to jump up and ask, "Do you really
believe that. Or do you just believe in the paradigm?"

I have to put myself on the list. "John, all this jazz about
NonViolent Action and that parents of Faith willing to sacrifice for
the love of their children can make a difference..."  Do you really
believe that?

Jesus of Nazareth
He would have probably agreed with the "paradigm" paragraph above.
All of was it says is true. But yet, he might have also had a good

Science finally understands all!  It has peeled off the last layer of
reality.  Every age has peeled off its layers, but we are fortunate
that in 2002 we have reached the core of the onion.  Oh, there are a
few things in particle physics that still give us fits, and our
theories of the Universe still need a little tweaking.  But you can
take this to the bank -- we know it all.  There are no more basic
discoveries to be made!

Do you really believe that?  He didn't believe that. Imagine, the guy
really did think there was a loving Father at the switchboard. Do you
remember some of these versus from the Bible. 

Taken from 'The New Covenant' (A translation of the New Testament by
Willis Barnstone). I wanted to use a bit of a different translation
than what most of us are used to.  To help us hear them for the "first

Matthew 6:25-26
So I tell you, do not worry about your life or way, "What am I to eat? 
What am I to drink?"  and about the body, "What am I to wear?"  Isn't
life more than its food, and your body more than its clothing?

Consider the birds of the sky.  They do not sow or reap or collect for
their granaries, yet your heavenly father feeds them.  Are you not
more valuable than they?

Matthew 7:7-11
Ask and it will be given to you.  Seek and you will find.  Knock and
the door will be opened for you.

Everyone who asks receives and the seeker finds, and the door will be
opened to one who knocks.

And who among you if your son asks for bread will give him stone?  Or
if he asks for fish will give him snake?  If you, who are cunning,
know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your
father of the skies give good gifts to those who ask him?

Matthew 10:29-31
Are two sparrows not sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall
to the earth without your father, Even the hairs of your head are each
one of them counted, 

So have no fear, You are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all who labor and are sorely burdened, and I will give you
rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me because I am gentle and
humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is
easy and my burden is light.

Luke 18:1-8  (They had problems with Judges even then!)
Jesus told his disciples a parable on the necessity of praying always
and not losing heart: "Once there was a judge in a certain city who
respected neither God nor man. A widow in that city kept coming to him
saying, 'Give me my rights against my opponent.' For a time he
refused, but finally he thought, 'I care little for God or man, but
this widow is wearing me out. I am going to settle in her favor or she
will end by doing me violence.'" 

The Lord said, "Listen to what the corrupt judge has to say. Will not
God then do justice to his chosen who call out to him day and night? 
Will he delay long over them, do you suppose? I tell you, he will give
them swift justice. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any
faith on the earth?"

I think we all know that Jesus really believed what he said.  He was
willing to mount the Cross to affirm those beliefs.  He answered the
question, "Do you believe?" with a solid Yes!  Not by his words, but
by his actions.  He believed in prayer, gut wrenching prayer, sweating
blood prayer.  He didn't explain why. He had no doubt that God answers 
prayers and that each and every one of us is important.  But sometimes 
prayer took effort...

Leadership in Family Law Reform
Here is what scares me the most and I know many of you can relate
to this. When people initially get involved with reform they are
pretty excited, ready to change things.  They learn about case
law or they learn about contacting legislators and are eager to
make a difference...

At some point, most begin to feel nothing they do will make any real
difference.  This system is TOO big, with TOO much special influence,
and TOO much money.  It dawns on them they still have a home to take
care of.  Some drop out completely, and some just continue at a lower
level of activity -- it becomes a hobby or a club. The reality of
change is left to some time in the future.

Unfortunately, when that happens, you are also not willing to
sacrifice.  Why bother?

Again, I encourage you to check the bibliography referenced above and
read the book "Let the Trumpet Sound" by Steven Oates.  Go back to
1950 in the deep South and begin to feel like many blacks did then.
Segregation was just the way it was and always had been -- and anyone
who thought whites and blacks would be sitting together on a bus in
Birmingham, was just a plain fool...

What started the change, some people of Faith.  You may find this old
Testament reading interesting. King David has completed his love
affair with beautiful Bathsheba. They have had a child.  King David is
given a grim message by Nathan the Prophet that the child will die.

Read this as much more than fairy tale.  The great King David
prostrates himself in seemingly useless prayer.  But he is right in
what he does in an attempt to save his child.  In the simple
cause/effect of biblical narrative, we then see that God blesses them
both with another child.  Giving the writer's approval of his action.

====== 2nd Samuel 12:15-24 ("Give us a King!" a new translation of
Samuel I & II by Everett Fox)

And the Lord smote the child that Uriah's wife had borne to David, so
that he became ill.  And David besought God on behalf of the boy,
David fasted a fast; whenever he came home he would spend-the-night
lying upon the ground.

The elders of his house arose about him to raise him up from the
ground, but he was unwilling and would not take food with them.

Now it was the seventh day that the child died.  David's servants were
afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, "Here,
while the child was alive, we spoke to him but he did not hearken to
our voice; so how can we say to him, 'The child is dead?' He might do

When David saw that his servants were whispering among themselves,
David understood that the child was dead.  David said to his servants,
"Is the child dead?"  They said, "He is dead."

Then David arose from the ground, he washed, anointed himself, and
changed his clothes, and he came into the house of the Lord and
prostrated himself; then he came back to his house, requested they put
food before him, and ate.

His servants said to him, "What kind of thing is this that you have
done?  For the sake of the living child, you fasted and wept, but now
that the child is dead, you arise and eat food!"

He said, "As long as the child was alive, I fasted and wept, for I
said to myself: Who knows, perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me,
and the child will live! But now he is dead -- why should I fast?  Can
I make him return again?  I may go to him, but he will not return to

And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, he came to her and lay with
her; She bore a son and called his name Solomon / His Peace.

We have a duty to TRY and with all our strength.  Once we stop
believing change can happen, and happen soon -- it will not (that is a
certainty).  But if we have Faith and try, it just might.

Best regards!

John Murtari

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