I became active in reform back in 1997. I was in the middle of an awful divorce and suddenly realized I didn’t have any rights to be a parent to my own child. It was the most gut-wrenching experience I have ever been through. As I told people, “if not for seeing it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it possible.” I was already doing websites and began to think how can we change this terrible system.
I’m a USAF Academy Graduate (’78) with a B.S. in Astronautical Eng. (rocket science) and became an Instructor Pilot in the T-37 jet. After leaving the Air Force I picked up a Masters in Computer Science and had a long work career (resume). Some things not on the official resume are 18 hours of Philosophy — when leaving the USAF I’d considered becoming a Catholic Priest and had entered a pre-seminary program. Didn’t follow through, but it was a great experience.
I’d always enjoyed history, and recalled some books about the life of Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and St. Francis of Assisi. I found so many parents angry, bitter, and wanting to fight the system (including myself!) — but I realized this wasn’t a war, but a struggle for Civil Rights. If we could demonstrate loving self-sacrifice, NonViolent Action, we could achieve the recognition and protection of Family Rights.
It took a lot of Faith! I’d never been in trouble with the law. Even with a military background and some very tough POW training, being handcuffed & jailed the first time was quite an experience! Something I’ve repeated over 45 times! Honestly, the way we treat prisoners in our jails is a disgrace (similar to divorce, until it happened to me, I didn’t realize how bad it was).
Most hear conscience as the nagging voice that stops us from doing something ‘bad’ — but more importantly, we should think of it as wanting us to do what is ‘good’. For many, we describe the feeling we had when a Court Order stepped between us & our kids — as having our hearts ripped out. Not just one day, but each and every day.
Why? A Court blocking a moral imperative, an obligation of conscience. What of our duty as parents to love and nurture our children? When we talk about GREAT Civil Rights — don’t they all come from the same foundation? The freedom to follow and act according to our conscience? Our Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, our Personal Liberty? What of the Freedom to Love our Children? Public ‘policy’ should NOT block duties of conscience.
Can we please stop looking for Scientific Studies that support equal parenting? We diminish ourselves and our GREAT right when we do that. From my past NonViolent Actions I have had the chance to spend quite a bit of time in jail holding cells with other people who were just arrested. I can tell you that 90% of them were exactly guilty of what the police charged them with (if not worse acts).
Would you support a ‘law’ that said anyone charged with a crime should just be convicted then & there? Do we really want to run the risk of letting these dangerous people hurt other innocents? Let’s not forget OJ? Better safe than sorry! Why do have a presumption of innocence, require trials, and require a unanimous jury verdict?
Because we are about to take someones Freedom. We are about to interfere with a GREAT right. Should not the same level of attention be required before we can’t express the love we have for our children?
It’s been a long time since America has seen a grass roots Civil Rights movement. Before we see serious reform, it will need to see another. As parents we need to act in ways that will change the heart of the Nation if we want to see a Family Rights Act passed. An Act that will recognize & protect our ability to love and nurture our kids — just as our conscience calls for.