This young man, who was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and made his popular mark in life as an actor in Hollywood, is calling out
citizens of the world with a moral imperative to stop sexual slavery in this 21st Century. He has invested his time, energy, creativity, passion, and money into this Great Cause for Child Justice. He leads by example, and courageously uses language for this crime against humanity in unvarnished specificity.
Mr. Kutcher’s testimony evokes the wisdom of Edmond Burke,
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
The above Washington Post photo suits my purpose perfectly.
I missed a Women’s March in the early 1980’s. I did not realize the significance of the event until it was over. As best I remember it, I went to class that night at Arizona State University. A more important educational experience was taking place in the streets of a Phoenix suburb.
While working on my Masters of Counseling Degree, I was a volunteer and four-hour-per-week data analyst at the Center Against Sexual Assault (CASA). I was one of two men working there with a dozen or more women. It was a job which transformed into a lifetime mission of moral and legal justice for survivors and fatalities of childhood sexual abuse (CSA).
At the time, many of the staff were involved in planning a Take Back the Night march when a nearby mayor did something significantly unenlightened. Two serial rapists were stalking their prey in his community, and the mayor decided to wade in with an executive order. He established a nine-o’clock curfew for women to be off the streets, for their own safety. His timing could not have been more appropriate to the feminist cause. Women came out to march in what was then considered great numbers. I learned about the protest later from my co-workers.
The organizers started the march in the mayor’s community nine o’clock at night. The gathering was comprised of women from all races, religions, educations, classes, ages, incomes, gender identifications, and sexual orientations. The peaceful protesters not only united and came out against the female curfew, they demanded a male curfew. After all, who was making the streets dangerous, the women?!
Over the past three decades, I have learned about cultural and institutional discrimination and sexual abuses of women. I developed a deep respect and brotherly love for those women. This compassionate army of sisters welcomed me into their world. I have
missed that shared consciousness since my wife passed away three years ago. I still miss Carol, but I am no longer alone with my convictions.
I have discovered recently, at sixty-four years of age, a cadre of dedicated and passionate kindred spirits. I found them in the Ph.D. program at Prescott College, Arizona.
After much time quietly standing back and closely observing our nation’s political season, I have decided it is time for me to declare where I stand. This past weekend I found my political tribe. I do not enter this commitment blindly. I have issues to debate with some of the members.
However, we are confronted with what I believe may be the bleakest challenges in American history. I believe the most visionary, prophetic, and moral group available to me has been called together in the Women’s March on Washington.
I now join my peaceful warrior sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, and brothers with gratitude and humility.
I stand with women and men all around the world. That indigenous person in the photo with her raised and closed hand expresses solidarity. She represents me. I am there with her and the rest of those women. I embrace our cause.
My first client as a professional counselor was a little girl named Marie. She was three-
and-a-half years old. She was non-verbal and had not spoken a word since she was put into foster care. Both she and her six-year-old sister were being treated for gonorrhea. Both of their parents were in jail.
That was the fall of 1981. I was twenty-nine years old. I was a trained volunteer for The Center Against Sexual Assault. I had been taking regular shifts answering the 24-hour hotline..
Based on my undergraduate work as a research assistant and strong statistics background, the agency hired me as a data analyst for four hours per week at five dollars per hour.
Let me be clear.
This was not the work I planned on doing forever. I figured that if I could learn some counseling skills with that agency’s clientele, then I could probably handle just about any counseling situation that would come up in life.
My real goal was to get my Ph.D., go into Organizational Psychology, and make big bucks doing corporate work, solving interpersonal and group problems, helping big business function more efficiently.
Secondly, and more deeply important . . .
I thought this sexual assault organization might hold some insights or answers into my nagging dissatisfaction with my religious upbringing. I thought that if there was a God, and I was asking that question at that time in my life, then surely there would be something to discover in this fringe element of the counseling profession.
A few weeks after starting the job, a veteran therapist there, who knew I was in the Masters of Counseling Program, asked me if I would like to help her with the children’s play-therapy group.
I said that I would like to do that.
The therapist explained that the half-dozen children in the group were pre-school to second grade. There were two sisters just starting the group, ages 3-1/2 and 6. The foster parents of these two girls were very involved in the kids’ therapy and formed a good supportive family.
The lead therapist asked me to pay special attention to the littlest girl. She was going to need a lot of help. The other children we making progress at a reasonable pace.
Over those first three weeks I used what I learned in Early Childhood Development to build trust with Marie, making periodic eye contact, smiling, using a gentle voice, encouraging her to draw pictures and make choices. Session four, she was smiling back and engaging in some of the projects the other children were involved in. Then late in that session, there was a group sing along, and out of the blue, Marie joined in.
The first words I heard from Marie were in her singing a joyful sound. From there she grew by leaps and bounds.
The thing that drove the lesson home for me was a chance meeting two weeks later at a street fair in downtown Tempe. On a crowded sidewalk on a Saturday morning, I heard a little voice calling from behind me somewhere. I stopped and turned around, the crowd parted like the Red Sea. The little girl named Marie was running up the sidewalk calling out, “Mr. Kookendall, ( She had trouble pronouncing my name Kirkendall) Mr. Kookendall, Mr. Kookendall!” Her foster parents and sister were walking hand-in-hand behind her smiling at having surprised me.
I knelt down and greeted Marie. She gave me an appropriate hug. While I knelt at eye-to-eye level with Marie, we all talked for a while. Then I watched them walk away together Marie waving as she looked back.
My life changed that day forever.
Something Godly had happened, and I was a part of it.
I could not . . . I could not . . . I could not turn away.
For me, no work in the world could be more precious.
I was right. I worked saving children for 20 years.
It was this time of year thirty-four years ago that I met that little girl named Marie. I imagine her now in her late thirties, and I wish I could send her a letter.
Thank you . . where ever you are. . . Thank you Marie.
I pray that you are blessed with healthy children,
Five writers present their adventures collaborating with a spouse, friend or sibling. Hear the struggles, conflicts and laughter that each writer experience on the journey to complete a book. One has to do with developing a transatlantic friendship. Another is a coming of age experience.
The other authors share about soul-mates finding one another and sibling harmony. These story tellers reveal how in co-authorship their stories and poetry exceeded what one could have accomplished alone
It is hard to write The Great American Novel . . . fifteen-minutes-at-a-time.
I provide 24/7 care-taking for a disabled seventy-five-year-old woman who has been my best friend, lover, wife, and the most influential woman in my life for thirty years. It is the only paying job I have had for the last four years. Medicade nets me two-hundred-and-forty-five dollars a week to care for my wife, and that will soon be cut to about two-hundred. We live and love in our vintage thirty-foot Holiday Rambler travel trailer that my cousin bought us a year ago after we lost our home.
My life-style is close to that of a single mom with a disabled child at home. Every hour of every day has a list of things that need attention, and I know that I will not get to them all. What is important?
On Sundays I practice a role-playing routine. I pretend that I am a noteworthy writer, that writing is my forte’, my profession, my Calling, if you will. I put on my New York City writer’s hat, dress like an author going to meet his agent, and act like I would imagine someone would act who has something to contribute to the world, even a legacy to leave.
I still get my sweetheart her meds on time, food on time, exercise, reading, resting, getting to the bathroom on time. But I do not sweat the small stuff on Sunday. No rent, utilities, leaking faucet, laundry, dirty floors, or creditors. I have to work at blocking these things out of my mind while washing the dishes.
While my partner sleeps, I write, or think about writing, meditate, pray, and attempt to discern what is most important to get down. Then I do it. I never know how long I will have to finish before I have to move on to my critical responsibilities. Will I get to complete my thoughts?
So this is what I have done this Author Sunday. . . . Excuse me, she has pulled off her oxygen hose.
Okay, I’m back, but she will need to get to the bathroom soon, so let me say this before the day takes off in another direction.
The long-term effects on aging victims of childhood torture and terrorism are profound, even mind-boggling. Being beaten, choked, shocked, kicked, burned, sexually-impaled, over years, . . leaves damaged spines, brain trauma, organ-tissue damage, deformed joints, hearing and sight impairment, and then there are the nightmares, flashbacks, and the relentless, soul-challenging physical pain.
And all this suffering, all of it, is for the sins of others.
That has to make it one of the most tragic scenarios Life can deal a human being, don’t you think?
I have to go now and put my arms around the love of my life and slow-dance with her to the commode. She laughs when I whisper in her ear the way I did when we were newly weds.