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[AKidsRight.Org Newsletter] The Discipline of Lent: Don't leave anything on the table!

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Wed Mar 03 2004 - 19:21:08 EST

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Good People & People of Faith,

As you can tell by the subject, this is our time for a little
introspection. Let's forget about what OTHER people could be doing
better (those dirty Judges, Lawyers, CPS workers, and former spouses!) 
and focus on what WE COULD BE DOING BETTER.  We have a lot of new
people on the list and maybe a little explanation is in order.  We ARE
NOT holding out Christianity as the TRUE RELIGION. We ARE NOT
interested in "converting" you from whatever beliefs you may have.

We do use a lot of imagery/history from the Christian tradition since
that is what most of us are familiar with (even if we don't believe it).
The group is about NonViolent Action as practiced most recently by
Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King -- Gandhi was a Hindu.  Some of
the peoples who participated in those movements had strong Faith, others
did not, but agreed with the goals and were attracted by the methods.
That was fine.  They could all work together.

Faith was an essential part of those movements as they began, see
http://www.AKidsRight.Org/civil_back.htm for more history. How does
Faith influence our actions as a group? What sacrifices should we

Faith as a Foundation for Action
I think the best historical examples we have are those efforts.  They
had to overcome bias and prejudice.  They had to change the "hearts" of
the public -- it took dramatic ACTION.  Sometimes when we look at
history we only see final results, thousands and thousands of people
sacrificing for a goal. I recommend you visit the link above and read
some of the books, find those movements when they were just starting
(same as we are today) and you will be amazed at the similarities.

In both, once a small group of people with Faith risked sacrifice it
caught the public imagination, e.g.  At the beginning it took a lot of
Faith for a black person to sit in the front of the bus (it was stupid,
you were just going to jail, get a criminal record).  But when it got
publicity, it caught on and become trendy -- thousands began to do it!

Now, did those thousands have that same Faith, probably not all.  It was
now a safe action.  There were other experienced political and legal
people whose efforts also benefited.  Did they have that same faith?
No.  But the public action of the other people was a catalyst.

I had to LAUGH
A few years ago I went to a Conference being held by parents who had
been hurt by "Child Abuse" laws -- unjustly.  There were a lot of sad
stories told, but at one point the discussion got into "public action"
and a few of them said, "we should sit in the streets, block the
highways, and raise hell.  That will get attention!"

I laughed, "Oh right, here I am just another parent sitting at home
watching the TV News and I see a bunch of accused/convicted child
abusers out in the streets yelling and screaming -- Oh YEAH! That will
make me change how I think about you..."

Seem a little dumb?  How about parents who "won't support their kids" or
"take their kid and run."  Is that breaking through any stereotypes of
the thoughtless, control freak parent who is just thinking of
themselves?  Thank God we took their kid away!

The Goal of This Group - What is our Action?
To help find that core group of Parents willing to make loving sacrifice
for their kids in the hope of reforming the system.  To go beyond just
talk (or email). What should be our "defining action" as Parents.  How
do we let people know how poorly our families have been treated?  How do
we let them know how much we love our children? 

Right now I'm involved in quietly carrying some pictures of children and
parents outside the offices of Senator Hillary R. Clinton in the
Syracuse Federal Building.  The goal - get a personal meeting between
her and parents.  Get her to call for Congressional Hearings into
reform, protecting parents and children from too intrusive government
interference in family life. http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionc_syr

How is it going?  Well, at least 30 arrests and still no meeting!  I've
had parents there to watch, but none to participate yet?  Is it a bad
model?  Poor leadership and organization (I've got to vote yes on that
one!).  What do you think could be better?  Ideas are welcome!

Don't Leave Anything on the Table
This is from the recent movie "Miracle", about the 1980 US Hockey team.
Their coach is trying to prepare them to face a pretty difficult
challenge (and one they most likely will lose), but he says, "I want
these men to be able to look back on this 20 years from now, and be able
to know, they didn't leave anything on the table..."

I don't know about you, but I'm not getting any younger (maybe better
looking!). In a few years any of us could find out we have pulled a
winning ticket in the cancer lottery.  Or in 30 years end up in a
nursing home, pooping our drawers, having no short term memory, but
being haunted by what might have been NOW.  Remembering what happened to
our children, who we wanted to love, who we wanted to be loved by, but
somehow it all went terribly wrong..... and the wound never quite healed
...  the times we felt emboldened to take action, but never did ...

Of course, we will think of what might have been and opportunities that
were lost. Will you look back with satisfaction at the letter your wrote
to the official that hurt you?  Or maybe you sent a couple of tough
emails!  Maybe you just focused on getting back at the other parent (boy
that felt good!).

The Passion of The Christ
Wow, what about that!  I've never see such rabid reviews both pro
and con.  I'm actually surprised that folks who are agnostic/atheist
find it so troubling?  You would think any "humanist" would be inspired.
Forget the Son of God and walking on water -- look what this Man did
because of his willingess to sacrifice for an ideal?  

Let's not forget one thing.  We don't remember Jesus of Nazareth for the
great stuff he said or for his noble goals for humanity -- there have
been a LOT of folks like that.  We remember him for what he did. His
willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice allowed those noble words and
ideals to take on flesh and became real for generations of people. The
power to change hearts. 

Good People and People of Faith
I'd ask you all to examine the exchange below. Carol wrote in upset with
the salutation used on these messages.  It's a valid point, I answered
her and asked some questions of my own -- you can read her final reply,
but I don't think I got an answer?  Can some of you supply that?

--- Carol Diament <> ------- "Dialog/Monolog on Faith"

> I have read your emails for over three years. I have not had a
> relationship with my children, now 21 and 19 for over ten years. They
> have been severely brainwashed by their father and a judge saw to it
> that he got full custody after dismissing 4 court appointed therapists
> and several social workers, all of whom pointed out that their father
> was the problem. I had plenty of money and the best lawyers and none
> of that mattered.
> I think you would have way more success with your movement if you
> would stop bringing your religion into it. I have always found it to
> be offensive beginning with your greeting, "Good People and People of
> Faith." Why do you feel the need to separate us? Should we not be
> united because of our common cause?

> Now, in this latest email you've sent you say, "Parents can promote
> reform by demonstrating:1) Faith in a loving God." Number one John? I
> don't think this should be on your list at all, let alone putting it
> number one. It offends me.
> You are obviously a man of your convictions, which I admire, so I
> don't expect you will change your mind on any of this. It's the one
> reason I won't get behind your organization, although I am very much
> an activist. I can't imagine I'm the only one who feels this way. You
> mention not having enough people to get Hilary Clinton's
> attention. Perhaps if you cherish your religion privately, you will
> accomplish this goal.

Thanks for the message and VERY sorry to hear about what happened to you
and your kids.  So many people just don't realize that kind of stuff
goes on every day.  One parent gets written out of the kid's lives and
that is very unfortunate for your children.  Not having you involved
with them as they grew can only hurt -- I certainly hope that as they
get older their attitudes will change.

Regarding the issue of Faith, I think I know what you mean.  A persons
beliefs are a very private thing and I hate it when someone elses Faith
is pushed on me.  My Faith is something private, not something I "wear."

But what the group is about is NonViolent Action as recently
demonstrated by Martin Luther King and Gandhi.  They were people of
tremendous personal Faith and that was reflected in their membership --
many were beaten, some were killed (and we don't even remember their
names). (http://www.AKidsRight.Org/civil_back.htm)

Perhaps the salutation should read 'Good People and/or People of Faith'
-- but that is a bit awkward.  We are all good people. It is not meant
to exclude, but it does identify the audience and a key element for our
success as a group.

There are many other equally as valid approaches to social changes and
it sounds like you have been active in some of them.  I am hoping to get
more participation from folks who have a strong Faith -- there is also a
unique contribution to be made by them.

I still welcome your feedback and help.  The element of sacrifice
required by NonViolent Action is different.  On the surface it doesn't
make a lot of sense to sacrifice your own freedom after the system has
taken your children?  Why should you suffer more - this time

I've read quite a bit of history and have yet to find a movement similar
where the people were not motivated by Faith, but yet made such personal
sacrifice?  I welcome any examples you might have and point me to some

> Thanks for your response and willingness to listen. I hear your point
> of view but still don't agree with it. What is wrong with "Good
> People" as a greeting? The word "faith" to me has a religious
> connotation and "belief in a loving God" even more so. I don't have a
> belief in a "loving God." That is not to say I'm not spiritual, a
> believer in non violent protest and a passionate activist.

> When you say faith exactly what does that mean? George Bush uses a lot
> of Christian coded language (not that I'm comparing you with him)! 
> like evil doers. He gets away with it because he can argue that people
> like Hussein are evil. That kind of fundamentalist Christian agenda
> doesn't belong in government.

> This is your group so you can obviously do whatever you want but I bet
> you could reach more people if you would stick to the issues and
> lessen the emphasis on what sounds like a Christian Group. Anyone who
> has survived the damage the courts do to some parents and children and
> not become hopeless and embittered has to find their own individual
> way to heal and it may be very different from yours. 

> I could handle if you talked about your philosophy once in a while, as
> in "this is what worked for me or helps me keep fighting the fight."
> With all due respect, you do sound like you are proselytizing.
                                -- The End --

The power of one person who acts as they believe. What's our excuse?  I
knew an "activist" once who would really work themselves into a lather
about legal injustice.  I asked him once, "Would you be willing to spend
a night in jail for what you believe in?"  The answer, "Why should I?"

Parents, what about us?  Haven't we been punished enough by the system?
Why should we embrace voluntary suffering as part of our movement?

                                       John Murtari
Coordinator                            AKidsRight.Org
jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org                "A Kid's Right to BOTH parents"
Toll Free (877) 635-1968(x-211)        http://www.AKidsRight.Org/

                                       John Murtari
Coordinator                            AKidsRight.Org
jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org                "A Kid's Right to BOTH parents"
Toll Free (877) 635-1968(x-211)        http://www.AKidsRight.Org/
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