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Lent: Penance, Reflection, Renewal & Family Law Reform

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Thu Mar 20 2003 - 21:34:50 EST

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Good People & People of Faith:

A few thoughts on our group's unique experiment in NonViolent Action
in Syracuse -- trying to get a meeting between Senator Hillary Clinton
and parents hurt by our Nation's many "systems" of family law.  This
is also the season of Lent.  A Christian tradition of penance,
reflection, and renewal prior to the celebration of Easter -- also
important in this Faith based approach to conversion & reform.

Personally, this Saturday I fly out west to pick up my son, Domenic,
and fly back to New York for a week of Spring break -- it is something
we are both looking forward to!

---  April 7th - a lot on the plate!

I've spent some time in reflection.  On April 7th I will be returning to
the Syracuse Federal Building to petition Senator Clinton by quietly
carrying a picture of parents and children unjustly separated.

There are full details/documents at the site. Right now I am pending a
contempt hearing for allegedly violating a Federal Magistrate's order
not to return to the building for "demonstrations, protests,
marches..."  A few weeks ago I was arraigned on another 4 count
complaint by the US Attorney's office for other incidents since then
(that makes 5 things, each of which can result in a 30 day sentence --
and the contempt could result in six months), and I plan on going
back.  I have found that Faith and Love are crucial.

----- Reflection on things done better

Many of you have seen the FEEDBACK over the past months.  I appreciate
the thoughtfulness extended by you who have taken the time to write,
both to point out the good things and the bad. The consequences could
soon become devastating and a long jail sentence might wipe out my
income and be disastrous for both my elderly mother and especially
for Domenic.  Right now I plan on visiting him again the weekend of
May 1st, and then we have a six week summer vacation beginning on June
6th.  It does bring tears to my eyes when I think about what could
very realistically happen.  Ouch!

But this is NonViolent Action, this is about sacrifice -- as I have
gone to Church recently I have certainly had time to reflect.  I am no
"victim."  With a little more Faith and Love I could have tried harder
to avoid the disaster which has hurt my son (as I'm sure every one of
you could have).  This effort has been going on for over 4 years, and
while many people have been very supportive -- not a single person has
been willing to risk arrest over our "Civil Rights" and spend one
night in jail.  What does that say about my leadership and ability to
motivate?  Many of you have sent in a lot of great suggestions, I've
been able to act upon so few of them.  Heck, as many of you know, it
takes me weeks to answer an email sometimes!

I'm writing a letter to the local US Attorney asking him to please
consider halting the prosecution.  They have also been very nice in
"holding their fire" as much as possible along with Magistrate
DiBianco.  They have treated me kindly and are mystified why I don't
get the hint and stop... I really wish I could offer them some type of
compromise.  If we wanted to talk to Senator Clinton about education,
or the environment, or taxes -- I would not go back. It's just not
worth it.  But we know what this is about...

----   Let me compare notes with a few of you:

* I have NEVER been able to kiss my son as he goes off to school in
* the morning.

* I have NEVER been able to greet him at home when he comes back from
* school.

* If my son were to get into a severe accident, linger for a week in a
* hospital and then die -- no one even has to notify me. I'm an NCP.

But after reading many of your letters, I am very thankful for:

* The great love we have for each other.  To hear him say, "Daddy, I
* love you, I think about you, I can't wait to see you, I wish I could
* be with you all the time..."

* We talk on the phone about every other day for at least 30 minutes.

* We can spend time together and just talk/play without video games or
* any one else around.

That a single person was able to separate us in this way is PROFOUNDLY
WRONG.  It is probably one of the greatest affronts to human
dignity. As bad as slavery and much worse than segregation or just
being denied the right to vote.  Do we all believe that?

And please, let's not blame Senator Clinton either for inaction or not
caring, etc....  parent's need to demonstrate the depth of their
feelings and love for their children.  Almost everyone on the list
agrees, get another mother & father arrested outside the Senator's
office and you have a "movement" -- we will get that meeting quickly.

------- The Role of Faith for members of this group.

This is why I continue. For as much as I admit my faults and failings;
I don't for a moment doubt that meeting will be arranged -- even with
just one parent who loves.  Even though I know there are a million
little things that could have been done better, I am not paralyzed
into inaction.

When our conduct is in accordance with both the dictates of reason and
those of Faith -- it's easy to proceed.  But when Faith leads us down
a path not in direct correspondence with the cause/effect of physical
reality -- it can be difficult.  Many folks on the list are Christians
and Catholics, there is a line many  hear Sunday after Sunday,
"the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith."  What was his sacrifice?
A willingness to slaughter his own son, his only progeny -- violating
the prime directive of nature.

I have to admit, and here is another boofoo on my part -- a parent
told me she couldn't risk a night in jail, it was a big "sacrifice."
I just BURST out laughing.  I reminder her of the blacks who were
killed or had their homes destroyed by Klan members.  Think about the
people in the National Guard/Reserves being called up to war right
now -- some of them are never coming home.  A night in jail (or a few
months), an inconvenience.

I can understand why people don't join in the effort.  Heck, if my
situation with Domenic were to resolve -- do you think I'd be going
back to that building to fight for YOUR children, not likely.  Another
item which humbles me.  So it is very, very hard for me to get angry
at someone else. We've all done a lot of stupid things.  There is
something to be said for "removing the plank from your eye first"
before pointing out the speck in another's eye.

------ How do parents "demonstrate" for reform
------ Let's stop being shrieking victims !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have you seen the anti-war protests?  Yelling, insults, a little fighting --
is that our model?  Catch the attention of the cameras.

Many of you see the email from people hurt by the system, I just don't
know what to think of it anymore.  Here is a recent sample:


"I want to let you know the mass abuse, mostly psychological, but
physical to, that my son, now six years old continues to be the
recipient of in the R. household where his drug addicted, alcoholic,
and abusive father, not to mention his narcissistic mentally ill
grandma, continues to abuse him and use him as a weapon against me at
every opportunity...."

How about our last message, there was a public protest activity planned
with the goal of bringing reform.  Some excerpts:

> 5.)  We will then peacefully march out in the street, put on our
> body bags, and hold up traffic which will bring us press helicopters
> and more mass media. We will passively resist but, eventually leave
> the street prior to any arrests.

> 6.)  We will peacefully demonstrate as per our constitutional rights
> do so.  We will make this up-close and personal by applying correct
> labels to our judges on the signs with pictures and posters, i.e.,
> "Child Thief."

What do you think about this? What are you going to tell your child
some day, "Mary, Mom put on a body bag one day, and held up traffic,
and made a nasty sign about the Judge who took you from me.  You know
why.  To show how much I love you?"

Is this acting with confidence?  Acting with Faith?  Acting with Love?
Many of us have been hurt, many of us cry, are angry, and need help
(me too!) -- but let's not confuse that with positive action for

------ A reflection from the Book of Sirach 27:30

Wrath and anger are hateful things, but the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the Lord's vengeance for he remembers their
sins in detail.

Forgive your neighbor's injustice; then when you pray, your own sins
will be forgiven.

Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the
Lord?  Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek
pardon for his own sins?  If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who
will forgive your sins?

But what I can do (and hope we all do) is demonstrate the resolve and
belief that the way our families have been treated is PROFOUNDLY
WRONG.  It needs to change.  There is only one venue in our Nation, in
our government that has Supreme power -- and that is the Congress of
the United States.  Through it we can change our very Constitution.
We don't have to "ask" for a right to be recognized from a Judge, we
can demand it be recognized as the people, as parents.

---- Renewal and NonViolent Action

For those of you who ache every day because you miss your kids and
turn in frustration over your inability to achieve justice. I ask you
to consider joining this effort.  Certainly for me it has brought
internal peace.  I feel I am beginning to sacrifice (or should I say
incontinence myself) at a level which correspond to the profound
injustice which has been done.  Some words I love from St. Francis
of Assisi, "Love is not unarmed, but also wields a sword!"

If you want to learn more, there is a checklist at the site,

Can something "bad" happen to parents motivated by the love of
their children?  Parents acting with confidence and demonstrating
that love and also their Faith?  Maybe there will be some "pain,"
but will something "bad" happen?

-------- Another reading from the Book Of Sirach (2:10-11):

Study the generations long past and understand; has anyone hoped in
the LORD and been disappointed? Has anyone persevered in his fear and
been forsaken? has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?

Compassionate and merciful is the LORD; he forgives sins, he saves in
time of trouble.

Hope to see you on April 7th!

John Murtari

                                   John Murtari
Member                             AKidsRight.Org

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