– Marc Gafni’s friends, colleagues, and supporters, speak out in support of Marc Gafni, for the sake of restoring integrity. This response by Rev. Sam G. Alexander was first posted as a comment to the Center for Integral Wisdom statement on centerforintegralwisdom.org. You can read the statement below or listen to the audio. –
We Have Looked at What You Have to Say and Found Your Position Wanting
The night I heard Marc Gafni preach at ISE 2 I was stunned, moved to tears. Never have I heard someone reveal the horror of the world so clearly and then be able to match that clarity with such an overwhelming sense of hope so that I was left with joy in my heart. The text was alive in his hands. This was good news – something we Christians talk about a lot – but rarely do we reach out over the pulpit and place that gospel in the hearts of those who come to receive. My friendship with Marc grew from that place.
Almost five years ago now, at the time being Chair of Marc Gafni’s Board, I was approached by three women who wanted to share concerns about him. I met with them for two hours. I was deeply concerned for them, and took their perspectives very seriously, seriously enough that I wanted to find some way to hear both sides and give them the opportunity to resolve these issues with Marc in a productive setting. I arranged for them to meet with me, Marc, and a psychologist, something they said they wanted. I was clear with them that I was looking to support them in this effort. I thought, “Finally, we can get some clarity.”
Without skipping a beat, Marc agreed to the meeting. It was clear he wanted the opportunity to work these things through. Contrary to popular belief he is very concerned for those who feel hurt. But after he agreed, the three women backed out of the plan. Their stated reason was that Marc was such an impossibly powerful person that they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere. At the time I was just a man with an open heart who very much wanted to support these women. I presumed the veracity of their story, but in retrospect I realize their characterization of Marc had become so distorted that it simply didn’t make sense of the man I know.
He had become larger than life, a mythic figure, no longer human, a dragon to be slain. In time I discovered that one of these women had been “sharing her concerns about Marc” with anyone who would listen for years and years. She was one of those who supported the false accusations made against Marc in Israel, which Mariana Caplan wrote about in her article, An Unexpected Twist: False Complaints Against Teachers. This woman has deliberately and methodically undermined his relationships whenever she has the chance for that long. It’s so clear now that the two women joining her that day were stirred to action by her practiced interference. More disturbing still, it’s clear that by then she had come to believe her own stories.
It was painful; I had so much wanted to find some resolution for them; I wanted it for Marc too. Confused by it all, and exhausted, I resigned from the Board. In the ensuing years I’ve received nothing but love and a desire for restoration from Marc. I’ve watched from the periphery as Marc has continued to gather a group of people whose defining characteristic is the love they express for one another.
Even in the midst of this attempt at an organized takedown I sat on a conference call last week and listened as each person wondered aloud how we might love this moment open. The attack isn’t just impacting Marc, an entire community has felt it, yet each was wondering how to offer a love response in the face of an organized effort to destroy us? Wow. I heard people talking about shadow – including their own – trying to understand how this might play out and allow for the growth and development of love in the world. I heard people able to hold multiple perspectives. (I mean we are integral, right? We don’t just assume that our perspective is the only correct one, yes?) And Marc, I can’t imagine the pain this has caused him, and yet he’s shown up with a level of grace that can only have come from the love that has fallen into his broken heart.
But what have I heard from those attacking Marc and CIW? I have heard precious little resembling a search for truth or a desire for love to win the day. I hear hateful vile responses from near strangers. So I’m faced with a question: Should I be part of a group that puts love at the center of its relationships or should I be part of a group that has perpetrated an organized take down of someone’s life? A group that attacks other people for the crime of raising issues in support of Marc? What is the position that justifies that? An assumption that the dozens of people who are supporting Marc in this space are all deluded, incapable of reading, discerning and coming to independent conclusions? Can it possibly be that those who attack are so self-righteous as to think that they and only they could arrive at the truth, that they and only they care sufficiently about issues of justice and abuse? The arrogance of that position is terrifying in an “integral” community.
No, those that would attack, and those sitting on the sidelines, need to at least understand that we have looked at what you have to say about Marc and found your position wanting. We reject it, not because Marc is some sort of Sith Lord with the capacity to control our brains, but because we think your position is just plain wrong. We think it is wrong to seek the ruin of someone’s life without due process, wrong to ignore facts that oppose your position, wrong to deliberately stir people to hatred, wrong to justify such actions with an increasingly bizarre array of ill-informed diagnoses, wrong to hide motives for an attack, one that offers no new information, behind the rhetoric of care for the victim. (Don’t any of you wonder how and why all this started?)
So should I be a member of a group that has been doing that, or should I be part of the group that even now is trying to figure out how to love this moment open, wondering who, if anyone might meet us in that space? To tell the truth, my decision is quite easy. I’m rejoining the CIW Board.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Samuel G. Alexander
San Anselmo, California