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Family friends

Posted by porceleindoll on August 20, 2002 at 16:46:27:

I just finished reading the thread about having friends who are in the Family. Probably what I have to say is in the minority opinion, but I guess that's when you have to not care what others think and do what you feel is right. I spent too many years in the group following opinion and squelching my personal thoughts.

It's a hard subject to be caught in, because I can't see this topic as either black or white. I believe I left fairly recently in comparison to many here with the exception of MG.

I understand what Micron and Mekka say about not being able to trust Family members, that they always will lie to and deceive you, use you. I understand what Acheik says about being friends with pedophiles, I also know that many of us were deeply and some very severely hurt by the Family, its leaders and doctrines. I would go to bat for any one of you against the Family as an organization in order to defend you and find some sort of justice.

But when it comes down to certain individuals who are in the group, I cannot put these same labels on them. I think that I am able to separate the person from the group. I know this won't make sense, but it's not in my character to be angry at people unless they personally caused some great harm to others. Don't get me wrong, there are some Family members I truly hate and always will, once they've crossed the line into my hatred they probably won't ever get out of it.

The only really obscenely illegal thing the group has done is advocate sexual relations between minors and adults. They allowed child abuse to happen, their writings encouraged it, their leaders promoted it, countless people from my generation and about a decade under were abused, some quite severely. This is unforgiveable and can never be mended.

The other infuriating physical acts the Family perpetrated was the victor programs and the great degree of physical abuse it encouraged, spankings, twisted punishments, extreme disciplines for what were considered the Family's miscreants.

While I do agree that FFing, the degree of control the leadership had over the members, lack of educating their children, and the strict rules required for membership are bizarre, and are not how I want either me or my children to grow up and live their life, (let's not forget inter-marital sex), I don't believe that most of these are any of my business as to how another individual chooses to live and conduct their life (oh yes, LJR).

But in all honesty, I do believe that child abuse and physical abuse has been stomped out, it is definitely prohibited and an excommunicable offense. I don't believe that children are allowed to have sex before the age of 16, neither are they introduced to LJR before that age. FFing is no longer a part of the group's practices (though it is part of their doctrines, much like the Mormons and polygamy).

In saying that, I don't feel it's my place to make a judgement on an individual, esp. if that individual was my friend, concerning their lifestyle or beliefs unless I truly felt that that lifestyle was a danger to their children or to society. Yes, we could say their twisted Christian doctrines are a menace to society, but in reality, I don't think they are. We can argue that they lie about 'donations', they use the public, they get out of paying taxes and they abuse FCF contributions. There is a lot really to be angry about, but does that mean that every individual in the group does or is responsible for these things?

In my opinion, to label every individual in the group as such is to be racist, it's like throwing a blanket statement over the entire black male community to say that, "He is a violent person cause it's a proven fact that black males are violent in their relationships", or to throw a blanket statement over every Arab because it is assumed that a few of them are responsible for the 9/11 attacks, etc. I think it is far more dangerous to put a label over everyone associated with the group, and keep them in that box, then to accept that a few individuals could actually and truly be your friend and you could develop a relationship with them.

We have no clue what is going through the hearts and minds of these people. Perhaps they are looking for a way out and it just takes time. We can't force them to a decision to leave or change their mind. We all know from experience, nobody can force us to anything, but when the time is right, it all falls into place, and you make those decisions then. Isn't that how it was with each of us?

I also refuse to have a friendship with someone in the group based on, "Perhaps I can 'get them out' through this friendship." I would be guilty of having an agenda and guilty of the same thing I accuse them of, it wouldn't be a true friendship. I spent years of my life having an agenda with people, an alterior goal in my relationship with them, I won't do it again. Whether or not they are doing it to me, I won't judge them on it.

I would never fully trust anyone with my feelings, but I don't do that to only Family people, I do that with everyone, my family included. I never depend on anyone for their friendship, if it's there, it's there, if it's gone, it's gone, and I won't be hurt over it.

What am I saying anyone? I'm not sure, but basically, I can understand Jane's and other's positions that they can be true friends with Family people and are able to look past what they believe as a group and see the individual. I also believe that there are many Family people in the group who were never guilty of the crimes committed in the group. I think it's just as dangerous to start labelling each and every individual as evil because they are part of a group that we consider evil.

Yes, they could leave, yes, they could change, yes, they could denounce their present life-style and turn their back on it. But are they ready to do that? Is it the right time for them in their lives, are we able to make that judgement for them? How many years did we spend in the group being the judges of outsiders? I can't continue passing judgement on others, I had enough of doing that and feel now that each individual has the right to live their life as they see fit, Family, Muslim, skinhead, whatever, and that it is only my duty to interefere if they are causing harm to children or other members in society.

Is there any room in ourselves to allow for the fact that maybe some of these 'friends' are good people, they are doing the best they can, protecting and educating their children, maybe they have also shunned some of the group's more radical doctrines and aren't passing them onto their kids? Maybe they are sincere and good people? Maybe one day they will rejoin society at large? Maybe they never will, but then again, we have all eternity to discover the truth (for those who still believe in Heaven, and for those who believe in other things, I'm not sure), are a few years that important to harass them over.

Yes, if some legal action was happening against the Family as a group, to bring their leaders and past harmful activities to justice, to bring outside control to the group, I would be there to support it. But as for judging each little person, or trying to interfere with their lives, it's not what I can bring myself to do. Even if they are a leader. Think back to your own time in the group, weren't there even some 'leaders' who were good to you, who were the balance in an unbalanced world, who were your friend and helped you make some sense out of some of the confusion you were going through?

Maybe I'm sentimental, maybe I'm a softie, maybe I'm blinded to what everyone else can see, but I do truly believe you can have friends who are in the group, and that not every individual in the group is guilty of or has done the crimes the group has been found guilty of.