Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Few Words on A Few Things


Courage. More than once, I have received correspondence from those who consider my speaking out about my experiences with MOVE as repeated acts of courage. And while my sense of vanity raises up to embrace such praise, I think, that at the end of the day, it is praise that I am wholly unworthy of.

It is a plain fact that I would not be able to do what I do and say what I say without the medium through which I am currently expressing these thoughts. In other words, it is only the fact that the internet provides an even playing ground with some degree of anonymity and freedom that I am able to convey my message. Without this technology at my disposal, there is little likelihood that I would able to wage this campaign with any degree of safety or effectiveness.

So, no, I am not altogether that brave. I could go on ad nauseam about those whom I find to posses a superior physical and moral bravery to that of my own.

In the interest of context of time and to not be excessively long winded I will provide one example of someone that I believe exhibited true courage and bravery against the most daunting of odds.

John Gilbride.

I realize that I speak of John often and part of this redundancy has to do with my admiration for him, and secondly as a counter to MOVE’s attempts to erase the man’s life from and accomplishments from the planet. And I would have to add that if my mention of the name of John Gilbride makes you the slightest bit uncomfortable, than you had better be willing to re-examine your positions or at least be prepared to defend them.

For as it stands now. No MOVE spokesperson or “supporter” has dared uttered the man’s name willingly and I don’t think they will anytime soon. This abhorrent silence is telling and disturbing to me, but not surprising, given what I believe happened to Mr. Gilbride at the hands of his former comrades.

But enough on that for now.

One thing that seems to be of great interest to people who correspond with me is just what life “inside” MOVE was like. To me, however, what I find far more compelling is what life without MOVE is like. And ultimately, to me anyways, this is what is more important to me at this time.

It is no secret that those who leave highly demanding authoritarian sects must contend with a whole host of issues once their extrication is complete. I feel somewhat lucky in this regard, being that I never fully bought into MOVE’s ideology and spent a good deal of time educating myself about leaving such groups before I actually did so. This is a luxury that few who leave extremist cults often do not have and it is this utter lack of preparedness that leaves many who abandon groups like MOVE to wallow in the muck of despair and addictions and a whole host of other terrible consequences that trouble them for the rest of their lives. I, myself, would be remiss and dishonest to say that my own escape from MOVE has been problem free. But at the end of the day, or say the beginning, I suppose, I make the choice to survive and make that day better than the next in spite of adversity. And with running the risk of sounding overly self-congratulatory, it is a task that I believe I accomplish more often than not.

Another thing that has been on my mind of late, is the idea of what some might see as a moral disconnect that one may experience when leaving a tyrannical cult. There is a hypothesis and it is one that is not without merit, that once one is free from the austere atmosphere of rules, dictums, and control via fear, that one gets lost in the jungle of new found freedoms and descends quickly into a world of depravity.

Certainly this is the case for many people. I have corresponded with some of them and have read stories of many others whose lives in the post-cult world have been less than fruitful and where fear and loathing is the order of the day.

How does one avoid such pitfalls?

I have found my own way of doing so. I have a small, but dedicated circle of friends who understand where I come from, and who, if not exactly sure why I do what I do, support me nevertheless. Than there is my family. True family. Not a MOVE faux family whose allegiance to you exisists only when you allow yourself to be wholly subservient to them. That is not a family, that is a despotism, and a quick ticket to psychological destruction. True family will stick by you regardless of how dumb you are. Regardless of whether you waste a good portion of your life attempting to free clearly guilty people from jail while you put your own life on a back burner and live to serve the whims of leaders who claim to be servants. True family will be there for you. Your cult “family” will not. They will turn on you the moment the whiff of autonomy enters their nostrils. And they will not just turn on you, they will attempt to demonize you. One minute they are your “brothers and sisters” and the next they are branding you as a "racist", a "cop", an "infiltrator". No evidence is necessary and no proof is asked for. The leaders speak and the flock follows, repeating the charges with the zeal of any other type of vulgar mob infected with the curse of “group think”.

There are other ways of coping as well. Exploring new worlds. I have always been a reader. But I usually kept within me a a less than quiet contempt for works of fiction and the authors who made their livings off of what I considered to be mostly valueless tracts. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I have some new friends now. The are Dostoevsky, Dickens, Joyce, and Fitzgerald. They are very much friends with a great capacity for forgiveness. I can put them down on a whim and than sometime later on pick them up and they are by no means insulted. Embracing fictional works has allowed me perspective that I had not had so much of before. Here I sit, in the greatest nation that the earth has ever known, full belly, with no sense of chill in my bones and no real want for anything and yet I have the capacity to manufacture complaints at a moments notice. I live in a country that as I write these words, people are literally dying to come here for the countless opportunities that this nation provides. And I can sit here and bitch about my cable bill.

Perspective. Read any works by Dickens and you will learn perspective. “A Tale of Two Cities” is in part, a tale of my ancestors caught up in a post-feudal/pre-capitalist society that is inhabited by masses of people who are not so much alive, but are merely existing. Of course we have far to go, but in order to see where we have to go we must see from where we have come. Literature is an amazing tool to help you accomplish this, but more than that for me, I have found literature a source of moral force and constant inspiration.

Truthfully, I would much rather argue with anyone as to whether the specter of Hamlet’s father was an agent of good or evil, than to have to revisit the stupid and at this point, silly, “debate” about the guilt or innocence of a certain dread locked cop-killer who is slowly decaying in a Pennsylvania jail cell.

I know there are those of you who are reading this who are anxious to get a hold of John Africa’s “guidelines”. I know this because several readers of this blog have emailed me to let me know of this fact. And I do assure everyone, that, at some point, when time and technology intersect I will get all of the guidelines of John Africa that I have and make them available to the public. Something that MOVE will never do, something that MOVE cannot afford to do (and I don’t mean in a monetary sense).

But I do have to say, that if you combine all of John Africa’s mostly incoherent and contradictory aphorisms you do not reach the level of wisdom espoused in a recent book by author Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut, a survivor of the Dresden firebombing of World War 2 and prolific author has declared that life is meant for “farting around”. I think he is right. In fact I know he is right. And that is what I am going to do right now. “Fart around”. But no worrys...I will be back...back on MOVE's ass...until justice is served.

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