BELIEFS, VALUES & ACTIONS
Reflections in the light today, January 7, 2021
I grew up having seen the violence and hate born out of fear and insecurity that spawned World War II. I saw that we were fighting against white supremacy and an authoritarian regime bent on destroying those who were seen as the opposition. I also saw that we were fighting for peace, justice and a more humane world.
When the time came for me to choose meaningful work, I began working with people, organizations and communities dedicated to our greater good as human beings. To me that meant helping to solve problems and address issues around peace, justice, equity and inclusion.
We worked to help integrate housing, education and employment; we built coalitions dedicated to finding peaceful solutions to ending racism and war. We were like mini MacArthur Foundations without the money – “effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.”
I was deeply involved in this work in 1967 in Detroit and experienced the riots when the National Guard was mobilized to help restore order. I had an encounter with them at gunpoint that helped reinforce my commitment to continue working for non-violent, peaceful solutions, understanding again that violence and hate are destructive to human dignity and life itself.
The following year, spending two days with Martin Luther King, Jr., a month before he was shot and killed, solidified my beliefs, values and actions on behalf of justice and peace.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” MLK, Jr. “Letters From A Birmingham Jail”
My position was clear and also controversial because of the beliefs, values and actions of those opposed. One speech I gave entitled “A Moral Necessity” laid out my beliefs in terms that everyone understood. Everyone did not agree. Racism and the Viet Nam war were hot topics in the 60’s.
My activities were such that threats aimed at me and my family were sufficient that I felt unsafe and I believed it was time to leave and shift gears. I wanted to find a way to help develop human beings who valued their own humanity and that of others. The question was how to do that?
The answers came through my studies and work in none other than Human Development. Four years later, another Master’s degree and a Doctorate in Human Development and I was ready to immerse myself again in a different context.
I believed then and now that our hope is in working with children and adults and helping them to learn, grow and change, to evolve into more of their potential as human beings. Two actions that I took up professionally in the following years were psychotherapy and education. I believed that both of those fields were about change, change for the better, for the greater good, for good persons, for a good society. I was given wonderful opportunities to work again with people, organizations and communities who espoused similar values. Working together, with some great people and teams, I believe we made good progress. I see evidence of that work in numerous people and places and I am enormously grateful to have been a participant that contributed to those efforts and achievements.
The work goes on and while the recent events in Washington and elsewhere took me back to years past, I remain hopeful and optimistic for the future. Our strength lies in what some are now calling co-creative collaboration. That makes sense to me. I hope it does to you too.