Syracuse Update - What's next in the Experiment?
Good People & Friends,
Many of you know I am presently involved in an 'experiment' in NonViolent Action. Our list talks about it a lot and we have a lot of historical information about it at the web site. But as most of us know, theory is one thing -- practice is quite another.
Many of you are wondering and skeptical. Are Faith, Love, and personal Sacrifice enough to bring dramatic social change? Is a willingness to spend a night, a week, or a year in jail really going to make any difference? Isn't this all a little bit naive and simplistic? I have shared those same thoughts.
Right now I need a little help, advice, and support from you. Some serious decisions have to be made and we need ideas. PLEASE take the time to read this message and really look at what is at the web site -- it will make your advice to me (and to all of us) all the more valuable. Many of you are very close friends. If you have a gut feeling this whole thing is "nuts" -- I welcome that, but make it easier for me to understand you by remembering what the goals are and how much is at stake here.
---- A Decision Point
I may be reaching a crucial decision point in my actions at the Syracuse Federal Building (http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionb_syr). It really appears the officials are going to back off and let me walk in the building (at will) carrying pictures of children and parents separated by our system. On January 7th, motions will be heard in front of Syracuse City Judge Higgins to have my trespass charges dismissed. That I/we have a "right" to peacefully petition our government representatives. This may sound strange -- but I'm afraid we'll win?
You see, the goal of my actions was never to establish the civil liberty of walking inside a County Courthouse or a Federal Building. The goal was to show unambiguous sacrifice by a willingness to be jailed under circumstances that anyone could see were not "criminal." To link that "sacrifice" to the unwillingness of our Members of Congress to seriously address the need for National Reform. To gain "publicity" by the novelty and seriousness of the action -- hopefully getting others to participate and increasing the need for our legislators to be responsive. To "change hearts & minds" without anger or insult, but by just demonstrating a powerful love for our children.
In these past years I have been amazed by what has happened. I have seen opponents converted, stories in newspapers, and even in-jail TV interviews (http://www.AKidsRight.Org/events.htm) -- but so far, still not too much from legislators. We still don't have a single Member of Congress calling for hearings into Family Law Reform. Why?
Well, I'm just ONE person. It is how our government "of the people" is suppose to work. It is also a lesson of recent history with NonViolent Action -- in the cause of desegregation in the South a LOT of people were jailed peacefully. Well known people joined the effort -- Martin Luther King was the Pastor of a large congregation. It made the headlines and National TV. It touched many peoples hearts and they wanted to see their government representatives respond. It was "safe" for a White-Southern Member of Congress to vote for the Civil Rights Act. We need to make it "safe" for our Member of Congress to vote for a Family Rights Act.
Does NonViolent Action require a crowd to be effective? No, and history has many examples of that also. It is a movement of Faith and as you take "action" (http://www.AKidsRight.Org/checklist.htm) you will be changed and so will those around you. Many of us are frustrated in that we just can't let our kids know the depth of our love for them (some don't even want to see us). More than any words, your actions will also leave an unambiguous message to your child:
"My Mom really loved me -- she didn't criticize Dad, or the Judge, or the Lawyers, or me -- she spent that Jail time because she wanted to be a parent to me, because she loved me..."
---- What do you say?
MY QUESTION IS what do I/we do next in this experiment? I've had the ability to walk the halls before and it hasn't gotten a moment of coverage in the local papers or TV for the past year -- it is no longer "news." On January 8th I will be back at the building, here are some alternatives we need to think about:
1.) I am joined by at least a Mom, and hopefully another Dad who are also willing to "walk." I don't doubt all two/three of us would be arrested -- but it would be "news." There would be newspaper and TV coverage. That not just Fathers or Mothers were unhappy with the lack of response from Senators Clinton and Schumer -- but that Parents were unhappy. Some members of the media and opponents of reform find it easier to "pigeon hole" efforts by dismissing them as act by "disgruntled father's rights fanatics" or "dysfunctional mothers" -- we need to keep the focus on loving parents.
Obviously, this would be the optimal alternative and provide the best protection from prosecution for those involved. Without a doubt neither of the Senators wants to see a public trial in which a group of loving parents is forced into jail because they can't have a dialog over the issues. It would be the first step toward increasing public awareness and sympathy and moving toward Congressional Hearings into reform.
-- The other options aren't very good, because it is still an effort of 1. I really don't like any of these, they run the risk of much more personal sacrifice on my part and the probability of serious jail time....
2.) Just keep doing what I'm doing with greater frequency. Go down to the building every day and spend a couple of hours in the halls. It may cause a reaction. Perhaps more people will join with time and we get the first scenario.
3). Escalate the action, but these are difficult choices. They are easier to portray as provocative or threatening. I could actually enter their office area and sit in the waiting room till someone will talk to me?
4). I could position myself nearer the outside office door with the pictures and just stand there (not blocking any access). Perhaps have a T-Shirt with the large words "Senator -- Help Us!"
5). Your idea welcome here!
Will try to share your input with the other folks on the list in a message later next month. You are also welcome to call and talk during the day at 315-635-1968, x-211
John Murtari (jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org)
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