– Marc Gafni’s friends, collaborators, and colleagues speak out for the sake of restoring integrity. This statement by Terry Nelson on the recent Marc Gafni attacks 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. –

Marc Gafni is my friend. He is one of the good guys.

Since I met Marc five years ago, I have worked and played with him often. He’s been a guest in my home. We’ve played basketball in my driveway. We’ve studied teaching technique and debated Unique Self. We have laughed and cried together. I have come to know him as kind, respectful, brilliant, committed, fun…. SO, I am flabbergasted at the picture painted of Marc in recent attacks—this picture does not jive with the reality of the Marc I know.

I am saddened at the maliciousness and scope of these attacks on Marc and the Center for Integral Wisdom. While I know Marc, like all of us, has probably done some dumb things, nothing I see merits the vindictiveness of these attacks. Open debate and disagreements over ideas are good. However, these recent personal attacks can only be toxic for everyone involved.

I am frightened how vulnerable we all are to attacks on the internet and the phenomenon of “guilty until proven innocent—but maybe not then either.” It’s as if nothing can ever be erased or corrected. There does not seem to be any rules or standards of integrity or truth in this domain. Meanwhile, we human beings seem to be like Velcro for bad news and Teflon for good. We have not matured yet to handle this phenomenon without a tremendous amount of unmerited and unfair pain. Maybe CIW can help with this in the future? I hope so.

As the parent of a son and a daughter, some comments: Although I have encouraged my son to be both respectful of and a champion for the women of his life, I am fearful for him living in the current “men are bad and guilty no matter what” environment. While I have encouraged my daughter to keep her eyes open and to own her own power, I have also forbid her from indulging (and thereby diminishing) herself in the victim point of view. Although I guess it has its political uses, advocating that people aspire to wear the mantle of victim is not healthy or respectful. And yes, I understand how unpopular it is to ask people to view their lives from the driver’s seat instead of the passenger seat.

I look forward to an inquiry into the roots of malice in situations like this. While we all agree that one has an obligation to stand against evil, I also think that, although cloaked in righteousness, underneath many of these inquisitions (crusades, jihads and witch hunts) are unsavory and self-serving agenda which would not survive the light of day.

The CIW is about offering a new and workable narrative for our world. This narrative includes wisdom from many domains and perspectives. It includes the notion that each person has a unique and needed contribution. It includes the notion that we would be better off living in a win-win narrative rather than a win-lose narrative. It includes the notion that expanding our circle of compassion is vital and good.

At this point in my life’s journey, which includes growing up Methodist in a small town in Wisconsin, the Peace Corps in Thailand, graduate school at Cornell, working on the Hill in Washington DC, being chief trainer for Lifespring, Inc, and coaching my kids’ soccer and basketball teams, I think CIW is building a better mousetrap. Defining stewardship as “the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving”, I am a willing steward of the work of the CIW.

In the long run, if the narrative being created, offered and stood for by the CIW really serves people better, it will prevail. And, if in the marketplace of ideas it does not serve people well, it will disappear. Let’s get on with it.

Terry Nelson
Executive Coach
Mill Valley, CA