Sunday, May 17, 2015

Kids and Kops In The Streets (In Peace)

We can learn so much more on the streets than in a classroom I have found. I started realizing this during the years of my clinical training to become a Certified Transactional Analyst (1973 – 1981). It was essentially a post graduate clinical training program. So most of the students were Ph.Ds or MSWs with a handful from other academic training tracks; a psychiatrist here and there, a good number of members of the clergy, psychiatric nurses and so forth. I had been able to qualify as a “mature, returning student” while I was still finishing my undergraduate degree.

By the time I began this course which was to dramatically shape my life from there forth, I had already developed a good bit of street smarts in my earlier career as an entrepreneur. Serving the business and political elite of Washington, D.C., I would learn from the man who would become my psychiatrist mentor, Marty Groder, that “High Leadership People (HLP) and convicts had essentially the same character structures.

As I would also come to understand, not always without pain and much to my dismay, some of my elite psychology colleagues also fit Marty’s HLP profile. Beneath the cover of their high order degrees and various multiple credits they were as much like convicts in character as the worst of the street people. Only their surface behaviors differed; socially appropriate for our culture as opposed to the antisocial ways of the wholly criminal.

This recognition has come to be amongst the singularly most important knowledge I ever obtained from Groder.  I restate it here for emphasis; High Leadership People (HLP) and convicts often have the same essential character structures.

A corollary to this is that each and every one of us has a bit of a convict inside ourselves. (Actually this is nothing to be ashamed of as the source of one’s inner convict is simply the survival instinct in personality form. Who doesn’t want to survive even if a white lie seems necessary to get us by?)

Check out the reliability of this notion for yourself. My Survivor/Addict Personality Inventory is offered here as a tool for your exploration. And, if you are actually drawn into the investigation at a deeper level go on and read my articles on my “Exploring Your Dark Side” blog site.

I promise you, if you stick with my offerings the wisdom of these gems is likely to start making sense to you. For me, they hit me like Fourth of July fireworks when I got it! In more than thirty-five years since I have never needed to look elsewhere to help me make sense of the ills of our society and politics and how they operate – and – how they could be remedied.

However, a good bit before I was introduced to Marty’s systematic classification system I had already instinctively discovered that sometimes I just had to get away; far, far away, from these colleagues of mine as at an earlier time I felt the need to leave the world of the D.C. fast track. There was something so heavy (Later I came to know some of it as “dark,” masked as “successful” or intellectually astute, according to acceptable “cultural standards.”) So I found myself seeking out the street people on occasion as a breath of fresh air and a taste of restored sanity

Yesterday I experienced a similar kind of revitalization, taking to the streets, once again.

The situation did not exactly take me to the most downtrodden; the homeless, addicts and other disenfranchised souls. This time I marched with a handful of at-risk youth and community leaders in nearby Frederick County, Maryland.  Still there was, for me, that same kind of restoration; an opening, perhaps, to a part of my disregarded humanity by my getting outside my ordinary comfort zone.

The occasion was A Stop The Violence March, later renamed the Frederick Unity March. The event prompted New Horizons’ formerly scheduled Kids and Kops In Conversation event to be rescheduled. The now rescheduled event is to be a specially focused on police and youth relations program of our Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations series. Our most important targeted participants are to especially be African American youth.

However, with the March taking priority, especially on the heels of the recent tragedy of one more African American man’s life cut short by the police in Baltimore there was no other place for such as myself to be yesterday. The kids and the kops were marching so was I!

(New Horizons’ Kids and Kops In Conversations event has now been rescheduled for Saturday, June 20.)  

There is a great deal for me to sort through and integrate before I can say much about what yesterday brought me, especially as it was, for me, one continuous piece of what began with New Horizons’ Coffee House Conversations On Race Relations. The series will soon wrap up its first run with Kids and Kops In Conversation as our finale before we break for the summer.

From these events; both the front and back stories of them all, I am a changed person, inside and out. But my new friends of minority groups are telling me I have made only a first step.

I certainly do believe them. So what shall I become now that I’ve begun? Probably, experience tells me, there will be no end yet I will always be able to trace back to this time as a beginning.

But one thing I know for sure from yesterday out on the  streets with “kids and kops” is that it breaks my heart to see little five and six year old boys, as I did yesterday, marching to affirm that their little lives matter. In fact, as many of their posters show, all lives matter, prompting me to imagine my Holocaust survivor stepmother in their shoes eighty years or so ago marching in the streets of Berlin that was her home.

OMG! Childhood, especially in the United States of America, shouldn’t need to include paying heed to such as this. I don’t want this burden for them. I don’t want them to fight for their G-d given and Constitutional rights!

I want them to be free of such weighty concerns, free to be safe and grow and thrive – and – develop a beautiful character that knows all that is good and just, acting accordingly.

But so it is!

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