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Martin Luther King Day & NonViolent Action - Questions.

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Tue Jan 21 2003 - 16:20:06 EST

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Good People & People of Faith,

Yesterday was Martin Luther King day and like many of you I heard
announcers talking about his method of non violence. This may be a
good time to clarify what NonViolent Action means to us?  How can it
be used to help bring Family Law reform?  Does it work?

We have asked other questions in the past and gotten few answers. We
would like to share your FEEDBACK on the following:

1. Are we involved in a "civil rights" movement?  To what similar effort
in the past do you find a close analog?  

2. Do we share the same goal? We have a draft Family Rights Act,
http://www.AKidsRight.Org/act.htm It lays out specific goals/examples
-- what do you think?  Would it have made a difference for you?

What is it?
We have held up the ideal that people willing to demonstrate: Faith,
Love, and Personal Sacrifice can be the means of effective social
change. More specifically, that Parents can promote reform by

1) Faith in a loving God,
2) Love for their children, former spouses, and other "brothers and sisters", and
3) Willingness to make Personal Sacrifice,

NonViolent Action allows you to demonstrate through "unambiguous
physical action" the depth of your Faith and belief in your "cause."
It is a positive demonstration of love given at sometimes tremendous
personal cost.

How can we use it for reform?
Dr. King acted with genuine love and affection for even the people he
disagreed with. I don't believe the people in his group ever
"blockaded" anything.  The "Freedom Riders" went to jail for
positively asserting their right to sit in the front of the bus.

Somehow people think you can call the President a "monster", but you
are "non violent" since you didn't hit any body?  King and Gandhi
coined the phrase Non Violent Action to mean, not approving of the
injustice, but having respect/love for the people. Taking "action"
that could only hurt you.

Right now I am using the Petition of Pictures I carry and risking
arrest.  What do you think is the appropriate public outlet for us in
2003 as parents?  Please read the brief history we have at

In India with Gandhi, their were anti-salt laws.  Just making salt
represented disagreement with British rule, and got you arrested.
Obviously, segregation was easy, just sit in the front of the bus.

But how do we capture a public response (a NonViolent Action response)
to losing your children?  To violate a custody law and take your
child, not pay child support, etc... can also be seen fairly easily as
harming the child, dragging them into it, punishing your former
spouse?  Any thoughts?

These examples in history were "grass roots" movements. They didn't
require a million people, just ONE person could take action.  But
because it could be done by ONE person, they were able to generate
huge participation.

Does it work?
Many of you are aware of the many arrests I have been through at the
Syracuse Federal Building in our attempt to get Senator Clinton to
meet with parents.  There has been very little publicity in the major
media. http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionc_syr

Last week some people were arrested (about 3) for blocking access to
the Federal building (an anti-war protest). A larger group of 20-30
was also outside carrying signs.  They got a lot of attention!  I had
to laugh a bit, for it certainly answered a question: What generates
more interest for the media, one person being arrested 30 times -- or
three people being arrested once?

Like some of you, I am concerned that an "enthusiastic" Federal
prosecution in my efforts is going to result in some serious jail time
in the near future. Also, we have had NO response from the office of
Senator Clinton.  Seriously, does it work?

Yes (just go back to the 'What is it?' above).  I can also certify to
the fact that "Love for your child" is critical for motivation.  There
have been some pretty dark moments in the past where I have really
questioned what is happening -- but that love has put me back on
track.  I would never have been able to proceed based on anger at the

I have been able to get rid of a lot of my anger and also despair at
what has happened. That was something I did not expect. I think it was
also a product of Faith (and taking physical action which demonstrates
that Faith).

So many times we are looking for instant "results."   Let me end by
repeating a quote from Gandhi that I think we can all appreciate:

     "He who is brooding over result often loses nerve in the
     performance of duty. He becomes impatient and then gives vent to
     anger . . . he jumps from action to action, never remaining
     faithful to any. He who broods over results . . . is every
     distracted, he says good-bye to all scruples, everything is right
     in his estimation and he therefore resorts to means fair & foul
     to attain his end. Not focusing on 'results' gives one the inner
     peace to achieve final goals, this is renunciation."

John Murtari

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