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Thoughts From Jail

October 30, 2007 permalink

John Murtari of Syracuse New York has a son Domenic born in 1993. When the boy was five years old the marriage broke down and his ex-wife moved across the continent with the boy to be as far as possible from John. Although the mother's family had the means to easily care for the boy financially, she applied for court-ordered child support from John. He was a highly-paid computer specialist, and the support level was based on his former earnings. But with the disruptions of family law, continuation of that career was impossible and his earnings are now greatly reduced. High child support and low earnings have left him impoverished. What little money he has is used to pay trans-continental plane fare each time he gets to visit his son. His finances mean that he regularly spends time in jail for non-payment of support.

Rather than direct anger toward his ex-wife, John treats the family court as the party responsible for separating him from his son, and has conducted a number of actions to demonstrate his love for his son to the court. For example, this summer he chalked the message "I love you Dom" outside the courthouse. These actions led to a jail term. Below are John Murtari's thoughts after his recent release, addressed to others who have been forcibly separated from their children.



Good People & People of Faith,

Just got out of jail last Friday. It was good to hear that if your sentence ends over a weekend, they let you go early! I started this message while there... Need background:


Get used to it!

A single room, lots of noise, 45 men and 2 TVs without much space or privacy -- get used to it. It's so crowded they even put in steel bunk beds. The guy five feet away snores like a freight train ... you gonna giv'm a shove and tell'm to roll over? I don't think so -- you better get used to it.

Freight train got released and I've had some quiet nights. That can be worse for some because you can think. What am I doing here! Thoughts of regrets and wasted days and should-have-beens.

This may sound strange, but I haven't felt regret or that I did the wrong thing, took the wrong path.... just gotta get used to it.

How about you?

Maybe you think you could never get used to it. Live part of your life that way? Never! Personally, I think many of you are lying. Why? Because you've already demonstrated an ability to live in a much worse environment...

One of even greater pain, personal indignity and injustice. You were separated from your children and the tremendous beauty and love and fulfillment that relationship 'can' bring. But most of you GOT USED TO IT!

Oh, in jail there are a lot of those 'coping' mechanisms. You can keep the outside noise turned up and just not think. You can live in denial, or quiet acceptance, or explode in aggression. A few choose to 'hang up'. What about you -- how are you coping with injustice?

What we need.

More action and less talk in our effort for reform. I'm really hoping a few of you have NOT gotten used to being separated from your kids. That you feel the pain fresh every day, but have not 'coped' by anger, resignation, or forgetfulness. I plan to resume 'our' efforts in early January. I hope some of you are getting close to making a decision to come forward, to take real action for what you believe in.

Glad to accept the discomfort of jail and the life disruption it can bring as a minor inconvenience compared to the loss of a normal life with your kids. Willing to sacrifice in an effort that may not improve a thing with your kids, but may help others.


Because our goal is worth it. Because some good examples from history say the method can be effective. Because real peace & joy can be found when our actions correspond to the reality in which we live.


We have held up the ideal that people willing to demonstrate: Faith, Love, and Personal Sacrifice can be the means of effective social change. More specifically, that Parents can promote Family Law reform by demonstrating:

  1. Faith in a loving God,
  2. Love for their children, former spouses, and other "brothers and sisters", and
  3. Willingness to make Personal Sacrifice,

NonViolent Action allows you to demonstrate through "unambiguous physical action" the depth of your Faith and belief in your "cause." It is a positive demonstration of love given at sometimes tremendous personal cost.

Hope to see you in January!

Source: email from John Murtari