Thriving in the Eye of the Hurricane: Honoring Dr Martin Luther King

Joe Bailey's New Book: "Thriving in the Eye of the Hurricane" MLK Day Update.

Joe Bailey again, for my weekly video blog, thriving in the high of the hurricane, I would like to honor Dr Martin Luther King.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been able to make a video blog. I’ve been under my final deadline to hand in the manuscript last Friday, so I haven’t been able to make any videos, but the book is done, it is finished. Amen. Hallelujah. It was a labor of love. It was definitely an exhausting marathon, working with four of us editing it and trying to sort this all out. But I’m delighted to be at this stage of the process. The book won’t be out until September, so the next few months, I will be working with the publisher on design of the book and getting endorsements. Michael Neal has agreed to write the foreword to this books and i’m delighted that he’ll be doing it. 

I thought I’d give you just a little sample today.

Because it’s Monday, Martin Luther King Day, and I have a little bit of a connection to Dr King.

When I was 18, I spent a year in the seminary thinking I was going to be a priest, which I didn’t become obviously, I became a psychologist. But during that time in Chicago, my prefect Father, Tom Payton was one of Martin Luther King’s best friend’s. Actually, if you see video clips of Dr Martin Luther King on the march in Selma, Father Payton was one of the priests walking with him across that bridge. And so father Payton encouraged all of us to volunteer to work on the Southside of Chicago with Dr King’s organization called Unity and Slums. So every Wednesday afternoon, we’d go into the Southside of Chicago as brave, young, white seminarians going door to door, trying to encourage people to join Dr King’s union to end slums.

So, I thought it would be appropriate, to read from my chapter called “Seeing Beyond our Differences, which is the last chapter of the book. 

There are many stories of how groups and organizations who were grounded in the Principles of Resilience that are in this book, and use that understanding to get deals on new union negotiations, resolve conflicts in the community, and calm overheated issues, but this one particular story is a story about gang members, people from a variety of gangs in the Twin Cities, who were in prison at Red Wing Reformatory and Mavis Karn, my colleague who spent many years working with the reformatory through an organization called Missing Link. She told this story about working with several young gang affiliates in her office for their recidivism prevention group, called “Gang Members Find Common Ground and Brotherly Love”.

After these young offenders were released from prison, they would attend recidivism prevention group with Mavis. 

The impact of her group meetings far exceeded her expectations. She had become quite close to some of them and had earned the name “O.G.”, some of you may not know this means “Original Gangster” as a sign of respect. “On one occasion I had about 16 youth from a variety of Twin City games in my office. The group was composed of black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and mixed race youth. And. they were all from different gangs.”

At the beginning of the session, one of the members raised his hand and said, O.G., can I speak? “Sure you can”, she said. He pointed to each one, saying their name and the gang affiliation. “It used to be that you guys were my enemies. But now, in my heart, I have love for each of you.”

This was highly unusual for anyone to share feelings at that level with other gang members. Mavis thought they would snicker and make fun of him, but instead they sat very quiet, and said nothing for several minutes. One by one, they began to share deeply about the power of love and what the world would be like, if everyone could learn what they knew. They imagined a world without war, because people wouldn’t get that angry anymore. There wouldn’t be fighting and racism, or even poverty. After that session was over, these former enemies from rival gangs decided to go out as a group for the very first time. They sat down at a restaurant table and devoured a huge pizza together.

Later, Sydney Banks came to our city to speak, and invited several of us to join him for dinner. After chatting for a while, the discussion turned to the divisions between people, that we each create, when we are living in our separate mind-created realities. Syd said this: “…The principles help you to connect with people who don’t think like you do.” Mavis said: “I don’t know about you, but if I had to think exactly the same as someone else in order to connect with them, I’d have nobody to talk to.” Syd laughed and said: “Tell me some stories. So Mavis told that story that I just told you. And afterwards, Syd just reached over, very moved by her story, and he touched her on the shoulder and said: “Don’t ever forget the miracles.”

So that’s the end of my book.

And I look forward to sharing with you again. Hopefully next week. You have a great day.


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