Worn Out with the Way of the Warrior- Let’s talk about this
When Restorative Justices (circles) meets a need to draw some lines (Women leaving violence) — what’s next.
January 20, 2010
By Eisa Nefertari Ulen
What does a woman do after coming-of -age in Birmingham in the 1950s, after losing two friends in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four little girls in the 1960s, after helping free her very high-profile sister from the clutches of the FBI’s Most Wanted List during the height of Black Power in the 1970s? What does she do after advocating for the end to Apartheid in the 1980s, after working as a Civil Rights trial lawyer through the 1990s?
For Fania Davis, the answer is simple: Continue the fight by helping to increase the peace.
An Oakland, California-based lawyer and professor with a Ph.D. in indigenous studies, Davis is co-founder and Executive Director of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth (RJOY). RJOY’s mission is to “to fundamentally shift the way we respond to wrongdoing” by giving young people the tools they need to resolve conflict in holistic ways.
Davis’ sister is Civil Rights icon Angela Y. Davis, and her daughter, Eisa Davis, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright and Obie Award-winning actress. Fania Davis helped establish RJOY in 2004 after apprenticing with traditional healers around the world, particularly in Africa.
By bringing young people who are in conflict into a circle that implements restorative justice, RJOY has reduced suspension rates by 75 percent and helped eliminate violent fighting and expulsions at one low-income Oakland middle school,.
According to Davis, in most traditional languages there is no word for prison. Meanwhile, our land of the free has the highest incarceration rates in the world. If current trends do not change, one out of every three black men born today can expect to spend some time in prison. RJOY’s mission can help free our young people. Davis and I discussed old and new ways of thinking about conflict, retribution, and personal liberation.
RJOY makes a whole lot more sense to me than Wade Horn conversing with Ronald Mincy, Ph.D., Ron Haskins, and multiple others in remote academic institutions and collaborative (with each other) institutes, talking about their prime target subject matter, young underemployed black men, Fragile Families, Fathering Courts and a lot more theory, without exactly genuinely seeking outside input. In fact, it’s discouraged. I had to hunt these things down in an attempt to heal my own soul after being ravaged by the cognitive dissonance of the “family court” realm, in which theory is treated as if fact, and fact is treated as a psychological problem in the messenger relating the facts.
I don’t think that justice can be rebalanced by the same population that has no word for “mother,” which I have blogged on, also. The word I want is JUSTICE and HONESTY, too.
Here’s a sample of THAT dialogue — good grief:
Five Questions for Karin Martinson
Karin Martinson and Demetra Nightingale, coauthors of “Ten Key Findings from Responsible Fatherhood Initiatives,” reviewed studies of several programs for low-income fathers who don’t have custody of their kids. The programs are designed to help these fathers become more financially and emotionally connected to their children. Martinson answers five questions about the study and the lessons drawn from this early generation of programs.
RJOY works in a metropolitan area that is predominantly African American, Latino, and Asian. Restorative juvenile justice holds great promise not only in lowering overall rates of incarceration and recidivism but also in helping to eliminate unequal treatment of African Americans and Latinos…
…The process of bringing people together in face-to-face encounters also inherently reduces the “otherizing/demonizing” of young people of color that our adversarial criminal justice system tends to foster
It’s not the half of the adversarial systems that otherize and demonize young people of color. This can be done underhandedly and is done in social science cirlcles. I have started to become a “fly on the wall” (via internet) on some of the discussions, and they are unbelievably condescending. And the participants to say, “that’s ridiculous! ~ ~ you’re not SERIOUS, are you?” are not invited. Intentionally. And although the words may not be intended at face value, what they ARE serious about is continuing the programs.
Q: What led you to this program? Why are criminal and social justice so important to you?
A: Looking back, I see my life as sort of a quest for social transformation. [This was said in the introduction ] I come from a lineage of activism. My mother was involved in the Scottsboro Brothers case, the unemployed councils of the 1930’s, the Southern Negro Youth Congress and other progressive movements of her time. The Ku Klux Klan murdered two of my close childhood friends in the Sunday School bombing in 1963. This horrific event crystallized within me a passionate commitment to social justice, and for the next decades, I was active in the civil rights, black students’, women’s, prisoners’, peace and anti-hate violence and anti-apartheid movements.
I also helped lead the international movement to free my sister Angela who, based upon her radical activism, was falsely accused of murder and conspiracy to murder in 1970. Witnessing the remarkable lawyers on her defense team led me to the decision to pursue a legal career. After receiving my law degree from UC Berkeley, I practiced in the Bay Area as a civil rights trial lawyer specializing in employment discrimination.
However, by the mid-1990’s, after a lifetime of following the way of the warrior, I began to feel out of balance. I yearned for more healing, spiritual, and feminine energies to counterbalance the hyperrational, hypermasculinist and bellicose qualities I’d been compelled to cultivate as trial lawyer and activist. Serendipitously, I entered a Ph.D. program in Recovery of Indigenous Mind at the California Institute of Integral Studies and apprenticed with traditional healers around the globe, particularly in Africa. Not long after returning, I learned about the field of restorative justice. This was an epiphany. This new approach to justice—rooted in ancient indigenous processes—allowed integration of the healer and warrior and the spiritualist and activist within me.
Q: In what ways do traditional constructions of criminal and social justice differ from our Western approach to law and order?
A: Traditional and modernist constructions of justice differ in a number of ways. First, a communal and participatory ethos pervades indigenous justice approaches. Indigenous justice proceedings tend to involve an expansive range of participants. All affected persons are actively engaged—each of the parties in conflict, their extended families, traditional elders, and community members at large. The process tends to be consensus-based and more egalitarian than hierarchical.
On the other hand, in modern justice proceedings, the range of participants is quite restricted, typically limited to the two sides in conflict, along with a group of justice professionals who dominate the proceedings. Crime is impersonally viewed as an offense against the state rather than as an injury to a person or to relationships. The victim is usually excluded, except as a witness to support the “state’s” case. Offender-focused, modern justice asks: What law was broken, who broke it, and what punishment is deserved?
Ancient justice—and this applies to restorative justice too—is inherently more democratic and inclusive, actively engaging everyone affected by the wrong doing. It shifts the locus of the justice project from courtroom to community. It is balanced and wholistic, giving equal attention to victims’ needs, community interests, and offender accountability and growth. It asks: Who was harmed, what are the needs and responsibilities arising from the harm, and how do all affected collaboratively figure out how to repair it and prevent recurrence?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
MY SKIN HAS LESS COLOR,
BUT MY HEART DOESN’T
Our U.S. culture overall is warrior, and angular, because that has been considered the Manhood Way, but I am beginning to think it is the (not so) Great White Way, in which until the last definition has been settled and funded from remote superior powers (networked through all agencies available) the superficial version of the INCLUSIVE AND INTERACTIVE CIRCLE will become a mere tool of the BOXED UP WORLD VIEW.
In the name of FIXING the world, this society is creating boxes, which creates eventually creates gangs, and that I can document.
I believe, and have blogged that there really is a ruling elite that intends to structure the rest of the world — without exaggeration — according to their image of it. They have inclusive circles, but most people are not in them. How come that’s not called a “gang”?
I am very moved by this remarkable site, and also disturbed because while this woman was being transformed and eventually came to establish a nonprofit that had a more natural and Indigenous way, addressing issues unique to the population and the civil rights climate, I was, as a white woman who’d found her communities outside the family that wasn’t there, for many years, including in and around many of thes epopulations (and through the arts), I found myself boxed in by the definition of this very CIRCLE view — of a single, unique household, Christian variety, Head/Doormat. This was apparently satisfying my white male spouse’s need to find HIS warrior side, having also had less than I of what one might call “family.”
The result was a lot of destructions, and physical injury, chaos, and constant competition. To get out, I had to DRAW THE LINE and find my warrior side, defining these behaviors as crimes, which they were, and were experienced as too.
Lo and behold, and there was a universal push, in the courts, that women exiting the situation be forced back in, under the “conciliation” and “whatsa matta with you, can’t you reconcile your differences?” No, I cannot reconcile my differences with violence, domination, and subjugation as a continuing directive in my life, and particularly not for my children’s. DEFINING TERMS and SETTING BOUNDARIES post separation allowed me to become a better mother to my daughters by — with a safety zone, now, though a virtual one on a piece of paper issued by a civil judge — engage in precisely that creative, in-person, rebuilding, networking and participating in the local community — as a woman, as a person, as a member of the world, which I could not do being treated as an alien within the marriage.
Given how much healing this world really does need, and the gaping hole in many successful people’s souls, I do know, I have only recently become willing to reconsider my own Christian religion. I am still considering whether it was just co-opted by some absolutely insane personalities (ruling ones), ignoring the transformative message of Jesus Christ, or whether the narrating of the world as ONE GOD is of itself the problem. See my “Defining the World” post.
Balanced people can negotiate with others; they EXIST as a person, and don’t need to win every encounter, as their definition has integrity, leaving time to actually see what another is doing.
We need our circles and our freedom.
However, we live in this world, this time, this country, this century, with this history, and our individual personal, family, and ethnic, racial, cultural histories also. I know.
But on another level, books such as The Chalice and the Blade, or Crone, or others re-introducing feminine spirituality are sometimes as forced and artificial as the masculine variety is, demonizing the symbol of the serpent (from former cultures, and associated with feminine gods), and women as a whole, sometimes works out in practice. Scratch that — DOES work out in process.
I have always felt that the place where dialogues can happen has to involve the arts. It has to involve our bodies, whether in dance, singing, painting, aikido, capoeira, and preferably in a place of total engagement. Maybe, outside, where this is snow, wind, breeze.
Somehow, plans drawn up in conference rooms with whiteboards, I just don’t know about that . . . .
If more of these are not released and allowed to permeate through our society, we are going to see more and more of alienated WHITE men trying to find their way back to life in unacceptable ways, like the more extreme, the married Phillip Garrido, who had in his backyard and a ramshackle set of tents, for 18 years a kidnapped woman, fathered two kids by her, utilized her innate administrative ability to help support his print business, and eulogized on-line about God and transformation with The Man Who Spoke with his Mind.
There’s a post on here about being Boxed In — a (kidnapped by a couple) woman literally kep in a coffin-sized box under a bed, when she was not out being used for sex, and tortured, for some YEARS. That was not a low-income man of color.
While these make headlines, what frightens me MORE (unless I do my season of life as Warrior Woman. . .. ) is the less overt, and under-reported sessions of men trying to fill up their blank souls, and regain their Warrior sides in male-only retreats (Robert Bly, New Warrior Training, The Mankind Project, etc.) and, having been thus transformed and restored to their “right” side, come back and pound on their women. PromiseKeepers has a side of this as well.
There’s a group out of Virginia, reportedly called “The Family.” A reporter, Jeff Sharlett, has managed to write on them. He also in 2005 got
By Jeff Sharlet
Gol-dang suicide by stupdity, assuming the article is true. . ..
. . .
The Bradley seemed to draw fire from every doorway. There couldn’t be that many insurgents in Samarra, Humphrey thought. Was this a city of terrorists? Humphrey heard Lieutenant DeGiulio reporting in from the Bradley’s cabin, opening up on all doorways that popped off a round, responding to rifle fire—each Iraqi household is allowed one gun—with 25mm shells powerful enough to smash straight through the front of a house and out the back wall.
Humphrey was stunned. He’d been blown off a tower in Kosovo and seen action in the drug war, but he’d never witnessed a maneuver so fundamentally stupid.
The men on the roof thought otherwise. They thought the lieutenant was a hero, a kamikaze on a suicide mission to bring Iraqis the American news:
jesus killed mohammed.
When Barack Obama moved into the Oval Office in January, he inherited a military not just drained by a two-front war overseas but fighting a third battle on the home front, a subtle civil war over its own soul. On one side are the majority of military personnel, professionals who regardless of their faith or lack thereof simply want to get their jobs done; on the other is a small but powerful movement of Christian soldiers concentrated in the officer corps.
And, 2006, from “Soldiers for Christ: Inside America’s Greatest Megachurch” a description of the family as WAR, at the marriage of Ted Haggard’s son:
The morning service on the second Sunday of 2005 was devoted to the marriage of Pastor Ted’s eldest son, Pastor Marcus. It began with worship, just like an ordinary service, but the light show was a royal purple-and-gold, the hymns more formal, the dancing more ecstatic. I sat with Linda Burton in the front row; she curtsied and bowed, over and over, her right hand sweeping the carpeted floor.
Pastor Ted wore a black suit and a red tie. Earlier in the week, at a staff meeting, he had announced that he would use the wedding as an illustration, and to that end he delivered a lengthy prenuptial presentation with slides, in which he laid out a fractal-like repeating pattern of relations, shrinking and expanding: that of God to man, reflected in that of man to wife, which is in turn a model for a godly society. Just as we conform ourselves to God’s will, so, said Ted, must “the Woman.” The Woman must take on her man’s calling, her man’s desire.
“Mmm-hmmm,” murmured Linda, eyes closed.
In return, Pastor Ted continued, the Woman gets the Man’s love; authority just wants to serve. “Total surrender!” he called. “True or false?”
“TRUE!” answered the 8,000 assembled.
The Man is the Christ; the Woman is the Body. He is coming; she is the church; she must open her doors. United, they are the Kingdom, ready for battle. “The Christian home,” preached Pastor Ted, “is to be in a constant state of war.” This made many so happy they put their hands in the air, antennae for spirit transmissions. “Massive warfare!” Ted cried out.
The language of the Christian right was, I realized, hardening, collapsing. “Spiritual war,” a metaphor as old as the Gospels, has been invoked for the sake of power before—the Crusades, the conquest of the Americas—but for most of Christian history it has been no more bellicose than “jihad,” a term that once referred primarily to internal struggle. But the imagination of the Christian right has failed, and its language has become all-encompassing, mapped across not just theology but also emotions; across not just the Church but the entire world.
Perhaps the structures themselves were not conducive for personal interaction, unmediated unsaturated by collective identity. THis was in Colorado Springs. I hate to pollute the image of HOPE of DIALOGUE within this post, but I wish to remind us of some nice, neat, midwest sanitized reality ready to take on the world. This is an urban flight brave new world, forget history, forget your roots, sideline your intellectualism in favor of the cause brand of something entirely new, shiny, and artificial, in the genuine sense of humanity any circle of any healing might have. BUT, this reality too, exists. Look at the setting and the structure:
(from the same article):
Crime, of course, looms over this story. Not the actual facts of it—the burglary rate in and around Colorado Springs exceeds that in New York City and Los Angeles—but the idea of crime: a faith in the absence of it. And of politics, too: Colorado Springs’ evangelicals believe they live without it, in a carved-out space for civility and for like-minded dedication to common-sense principles. Even pollution plays a part: Christian conservatives there believe that they breathe cleaner air, live on ground untainted by the satanic fires of nineteenth-century industry— despite the smog that collects against the foothills of the Rockies and the cyanide, from a century of mining, that is leaching into the aquifers and mountain streams.
But those are facts, and Colorado Springs is a city of faith. A shining city at the foot of a hill. No one there believes it is perfect. And no one is so self-centered as to claim the perfection of Colorado Springs as his or her ambition. The shared vision is more modest, and more grandiose. It is a city of people who have fled the cities, people who have fought a spiritual war for the ground they are on, for an interior frontier on which they have built new temples to the Lord. From these temples they will retake their forsaken promised lands, remake them in the likeness of a dream. They call the dream “Christian,” but in its particulars it is “American.” Not literally but as in a story, one populated by cowboys and Indians, monsters and prayer warriors to slay them, and ladies to reward the warriors with chaste kisses. Colorado Springs is a city of moral fabulousness. It is a city of fables.
The city’s mightiest megachurch crests silver and blue atop a gentle slope of pale yellow prairie grass on the outskirts of town. Silver and blue, as it happens, are Air Force colors. New Life Church was built far north of town in part so it would be visible from the Air Force Academy. New Life wanted that kind of character in its congregation.
“Church” is insufficient to describe the complex. There is a permanent structure called the Tent, which regularly fills with hundreds or thousands of teens and twentysomethings for New Life’s various youth gatherings. Next to the Tent stands the old sanctuary, a gray box capable of seating 1,500; this juts out into the new sanctuary, capacity 7,500, already too small. At the complex’s western edge is the World Prayer Center, which looks like a great iron wedge driven into the plains. The true architectural wonder of New Life, however, is the pyramid of authority into which it orders its 11,000 members. At the base are 1,300 cell groups, whose leaders answer to section leaders, who answer to zone, who answer to district, who answer to Pastor Ted Haggard, New Life’s founder.
Pastor Ted, who talks to President George W. Bush or his advisers every Monday, is a handsome forty-eight-year-old Indianan, most comfortable in denim. He likes to say that his only disagreement with the President is automotive; Bush drives a Ford pickup, whereas Pastor Ted loves his Chevy. In addition to New Life, Pastor Ted presides over the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), whose 45,000 churches and 30 million believers make up the nation’s most powerful religious lobbying group, and also over a smaller network of his own creation, the Association of Life-Giving Churches, 300 or so congregations modeled on New Life’s “free market” approach to the divine. Pastor Ted will serve as NAE president for as long as the movement is pleased with him, and as long as Pastor Ted is its president the NAE will make its headquarters in Colorado Springs.
We have got to deal with this mental model also — it’s REAL, and it’s affecting a different set of communities. The mentality is immune to the worldly considerations of, say, laws, including laws against violence against women. And if this mentality is conscious of a discrepancy, a cognitive dissonance between the “she really wanted it, to be dominated forcefully and disappear into her man’s shadow” and “assault and battery is a misdemeanor or felony, STOP it or we will arrest you, religion or no religion” – – GUESS WHICH HALF is likely to prevail.
Only a little later, this godlike leader, crusader for Christ, was in need of some grace, but the authoritative structure didn’t quite have room for publicized sexual immorality; after all what would happen to the antihomosexual agenda and the redemption of the warrior masculinity in the populations of this world?
Sunday, November 5, 2006
COLORADO SPRINGS, Nov. 4 — The Rev. Ted Haggard was dismissed Saturday as leader of the megachurch he founded after a board determined the influential evangelist had committed “sexually immoral conduct,” the church said Saturday.
Haggard resigned Thursday as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, where he held sway in Washington and condemned homosexuality, after a Denver man claimed to have had drug-fueled trysts with him.
He also had placed himself on administrative leave from the New Life Church, but its Overseer Board took the stronger action Saturday.
“Our investigation and Pastor Haggard’s public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct,” the independent board said in a statement.
Haggard was “informed of this decision,” the statement said, and he “agreed as well that he should be dismissed.”
Haggard, 50, acknowledged on Friday paying the man for a massage and for methamphetamine, but said he did not have sex with him and did not take the drug.
[[This is yesterday’s news, but the inherent message goes on . . .. ]]]
I think we do have a culture unable to face its own sins and in need of Restorative Justice, not just in the young men of color parts, but perhaps a LARGE SWATH of these populations also war-torn and tired of the effort of keeping up the mask and mental myth of “America” will admit: This theology, and the segmented society model is bringing out the worst in our men.p; they are killing themselves and their framilies, because they don’t know how to lose, to be an underdog in this society.
And we are going to talk about it, TOGETHER, us, and the Harvard Yale MIT Columbia Princetons along with the Libertarians who still don’t “get” what women have been angry about, along with the Patrick Henry colleges and the Baylor Universities, along with the unbelievably patronizing architects of
“Healthy Marriage Responsible Fatherhood Parenting Education Parental Alienation Access Visitation High-Conflict is a Crime” (but racketeering is not) language that has labeled every thing that moves, until it cannot move or sometimes even work without that label.
(sometimes I just keep talking until an appropriate string of analogies comes along. Sometimes they don’t come along. But when you see that serpentine string (I’m female, deal with it!), know that gushing prose is in FELT response to the expanse of the issue. The gushing represents movement; the problem itself is frozen people.)
I expect there would be a fight. And in a sense, yes, it IS about spirit. What has happened to ours?
Speaking of movement, I need to. There is much more on THEDEFENDERSONLINE.com that relates to this blog; for example, and another essay on fatherhood correctly identifies that it was a white man’s movement, and not having a father doesn’t automatically equal having a psychic wound.
Similarly, the Internet sometimes fails as a place of dialogue. “talk to you later….”