I’ve spent much of the weekend thinking about the Jordan Brown case and talking to people involved in it. Yesterday I bought myself extra thinking time by publishing Graham Peeble’s essay, and used the day to reflect on Jordan’s case and ask myself how the verdict is going to affect me and the allocation of finite resources available to me (including my remaining time on this planet—this will drag on!).
In case you haven’t figured it out already, I live a monk’s life out here. Cloistered by wilderness, it is a solitary existence of voluntary poverty and simplicity. Without the worldly distractions which command most people’s attentions, I am free to devote the full focus of my attention to our kids and their needs. Yet getting anything done for the kids always involves the participation of others who endorse the work in material ways: our “angels.”
On Saturday one of the angels asked me if it made any difference to me that Jordan had been judged guilty and not innocent, and I answered “not at all.” It never did matter whether or not Jordan had done the crime; my mission is the same regardless: to provide unconditional lifelong support for the kid no matter where his path takes him. I will follow as a servant and provide the best of everything that he needs to live a productive and satisfying life in which his self-directed potential can be actualized.
Anyway, this is how I visualize the state of Redemption for Jordan and every other one of the kids. Where they lead, I follow.
People often say of these murders, trials, and imprisonments: “This will change that child’s whole life.” But they probably don’t think about this much beyond the easy phrase.
I find it very difficult, as well, to think very far out into the future about what “Redemption” will mean in pragmatic and practical terms. Each of our kids has his own distinct life-vision and aspirations. Jordan’s dream is to work for the FBI. Derek wants to be a missionary someplace where his life will be on the line. Each has particular and very different aims and needs, and those are developing and changing over time in unpredictable ways. Yet I’m committed to providing “the best of everything” that’s needed by each kid. No small task.
Last Friday’s decision hasn’t really fazed me; all it does is changes the requirements of my commitment to Jordan. Guilty, Innocent… that’s a secondary issue for me… oh yes, I do want to see Jordan set free, but that is not of any consequence to my mission, which is to stick with the kid like superglue and serve his needs through the whole journey, come what may.
If we can influence what comes and when, all the better. But my commitment—our commitment—is unconditional and eternal, and I mean that literally.
One phrase I have stumbled upon in my researches is the belief of Horace Mann, the initial champion of compulsion schooling, that “the state is the father of the child.” This is a very offensive notion to me because when I see how most states have “parented” our kids, I can only conclude that the state is an inept and even abusive parent. When we entrust the state—any state—with the welfare of our children, when we allow the state to assume the parental role and undermine the integrity of biological families, we are courting dysfunction and disaster on a grand scale. Think “Hitlerjugend.”
Yet if we were to frame our efforts only in terms of being against the state’s usurpation of the parental role, we would accomplish nothing of consequence. We must create a positive alternative, a new parental model that displaces the state as a preferred guardian for kids whose parents have failed them, sometimes—and almost always in the case of parricides—abominably.
Beginning with Derek and Alex King in 2003, we created our first trust fund to act as a responsible and loving parent might. The original purpose of the King Brothers Trusts was restricted to creating funds to facilitate their prison-to-freedom transitions—you know, for things like tuition, housing, transportation, etc. But we quickly learned that Derek and Alex needed advocacy and support while they were still incarcerated under the state’s authority. We have since realized that Derek and Alex will also need specialized support long after they create independent lives for themselves—services not so they will remain dependent on us, but so they might be liberated from the restrictions on their freedoms and opportunities that would otherwise hobble them all through their lives.
The heartless way that the state of Florida has derailed Alex’s progress provides ample proof of the state’s bad intentions.
I have to tell you, I would certainly lose heart were it not for you. You are my angels. Your support lifts me up each day, and I am inspired by your creative spirit. You free me from the chains which constrain me so that I can address our mission of unconditional lifelong support to these kids who need us.
For example, there is an “Aussie Gang” in Melbourne that sends a fixed amount of money each month for Alex and James. This is an intergenerational group of youthful men and women, including boys and girls, who have attached themselves to £ance, a guy my age who is also an accountant, church organist, and part-time equipment manager for one of Australia’s professional football clubs. I don’t know exactly how they put the money together (everybody chips in), but every month, regular as sunrise, the Aussie Gang sends us an amount of money sufficient to meet basic phone and commissary requirements for Alex and James. I feel such gratitude for £ance, Aub, Stephen, Anthony, Cliff, Tyler, Kristian, Jorden, Steffy, Helen, Steven, and Josh—you can’t know what a burden your efforts lift from my tired shoulders, and what assurance your help provides!
Then there is a man named John in northern Indiana, who has been selling surplus items he owns and is sending the proceeds to Paul Henry Gingerich’s trust fund. A couple weeks ago he sold a lawnmower, and now he’s just sold a watch. Yesterday I received a check and a letter from him in which he outlined some ideas for organizing volunteers to do more than just sending money. We will be talking soon.
There’s Sharron, an Arkansas great-grandmother, who has adopted Alex King as one of her brood (which numbers well over twenty—“So what’s one more?” she says). Sharron prides herself on never missing a son’s or daughter’s or grandchild’s birthday, or providing extra help whenever it’s needed. She calls me from time to time for updates on Alex’s well-being, and attends to him as faithfully as if he were her own grandson. She always gives me a piece of advice to pass on, and I always do.
There is Wolfgang in Germany, who is invariably the first to send a gift for any appeal. He is the Diary reader who first alerted me to Paul Henry Gingerich’s plight. With Wolfgang backing us, I know we continue to be on the side of what’s right.
Matt is another one of our “rocks.” Matt regularly corresponds with several of the kids, and he can always be counted on to help generously with their particular needs in insightful and compassionate ways.
Martin, a Canadian business owner and family man, is generously supportive of aggressive strategies which even the odds in defending vulnerable kids.
There is Rainer in Germany, whose unsolicited gifts always arrive when they’re most needed to cover a legal bill or some other significant expense. Rainer’s heartfelt compassion stems from a childhood in which he was the older, protective brother to a sibling who was disabled. He has never forgotten what it’s like to be a vulnerable kid.
And there is Jeanne, who has been regularly and faithfully sending Jordan books, games, and other little gifts from almost day one of his wrongful detention. At first she believed the media and thought Jordan was guilty. But now, like me, she is convinced that Jordan is innocent. Yet from the beginning, her love and support have been unconditional and unwavering. She is a divine angel in material form.
I could go on and on, but your time is limited and our list of “angels” is long. Suffice it to say that everyone gives in his or her own way, for their own reasons, as they are able. Their generosity, depth of feeling, and most of all their unwavering commitment, makes everything we do for kids possible.
We have recently experienced a major setback. Someone who had promised a big gift that was to have covered the balance of Blade’s and James’ legal expenses has not come through. After months of broken promises, we have sadly concluded that we must call on others to fulfill them. Blade’s appeal has ground to a halt and James has a May court date coming up. We need to raise at least $10,000 in the next month to assure justice for these boys.
And then there is Jordan. The burden of proof has now been shifted from the state to us, and like a good and loving parent, we must do everything in our power to right this terrible wrong that is being inflicted on him by his abusive foster-parent, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We must hire a cadre of expert witnesses to prove that what corrupt Pennsylvania officials claim happened on February 20, 2009 is a vile fabrication.
Calling all angels! We cannot carry on without your help. Will you please join with us and help a higher spirit prevail? Please visit The Redemption Project’s website at www.redemptionforkids.org and help as your head and heart command.
Groove of the Day