Citation
An analysis of political resistance and moral courage

Material Information

Title:
An analysis of political resistance and moral courage
Creator:
Myles, Karla
Place of Publication:
Denver, Colo.
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vi, 104 leaves : illustrations ; 29 cm

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( Master of Arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Political Science, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Political Science
Committee Chair:
Cummings, Michael
Committee Members:
Robinson, Tony
Thomas, Steve

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Moral development ( lcsh )
Government, Resistance to ( lcsh )
Government, Resistance to ( fast )
Moral development ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 103-104).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Political Science.
General Note:
Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
by Karla Myles.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
38372013 ( OCLC )
ocm38372013
Classification:
LD1190.L64 1997m .M95 ( lcc )

Full Text
AN ANALYSIS OF
POLITICAL RESISTANCE AND MORAL COURAGE
by
Karla Myles
B.A. Loretto Heights College, 1979
M.A. University of Denver, 1990
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of Arts
Political Science
1997


This thesis for the Masters of Arts
degree by
Karla Myles
has been approved
by
Steve Thomas
U, IH7
'(Date


Myles, Karla (M.A., Political Science)
An Analysis of Political Resistance and Moral Courage
Thesis directed by Professor Michael Cummings
ABSTRACT
It is a reasonable assumption when considering societal and
community issues that people hope to evolve politically in an ethical"
fashion. Our challenge, as political scientists is to define foundational
elements and parameters of ethical" action. Once determining what it
means to act ethically as an individual and/or as a community, we can begin
to make judgments, or to at least begin a dialogue, regarding the political
behaviors we study.
Within this context, I propose: When an individual functioning within a
larger system begins to feel compromised, silenced, and void of desired
voice and power, she will begin, in accordance with and commitment to
ethical behavior, to work against the status quo of the larger system. This
action can be defined as political resistance and is often fed by a sense of
moral courage.
The purpose of my thesis is to acknowledge and document the


inevitability of this dynamic political resistance and further suggest it as a
desirable element as well as a catalyst to needed political discourse. My
thesis will explore this topic utilizing published philosophical treatise and
case study. The case studies that I will utilize are as follows: Turning Point
by Jimmy Carter, Profiles In Courage by John F. Kennedy, Serving in
Silence by Margarethe Cammermeyer, excerpts from the life of Martin Luther
King, and pieces of my own struggle within the bureaucratic system of public
education outlined in the article, Principal Fights Jeffco School District to
Retain Job, Dignity, by Heather Draper, printed in the July, 1995 Colorado
Woman News. I will examine political and philosophical arguments
regarding systems and power by Michel Foucault, Charles Goode, and
Seyla Benhabib. By placing these case studies within the context of
researched historical and philosophical frameworks, I will support the
following thesis: the need for political survival compels the individual to act
in morally courageous fashions in order to resist the controlling, potentially
oppressive, actions of larger systems; and furthermore this action of
resistance is inevitable and ultimately beneficial to fostering the
development of "ethical individuals and communities.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis,
recommend its publication.
Signed.
Michael Cummings
IV


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION.....................................1
2. ASSUMPTIONS REGARDING REBELLION AND MORAL
COURAGE.............................................6
3. THE ROLE OF POWER................................8
4. AN ANALYSIS OF MORAL COURAGE IN POLITICAL
SETTINGS: CASE STUDIES.............................10
Profiles in Courage:the Ethics of Aloneness..12
Robert Penn Warren: the Neutrality of History and the Hero
on the Pinnacle............................. 18
Jimmy Carter's Turning Point: a Chance for an Individual
and a Nation.................................25
Courage through Silence: Dr. Margarethe
Cammermeyer..................................30
5. PERSONAL CASE STUDY: WHEN OPEN IS CLOSED......35
Some History.................................41
Exile and Inspiration........................51
Some Additional Facts........................59
6. MORAL COURAGE: THE CHOICE, THE CHALLENGE........71
7. THE PRIMARY DIALOGUE............................76
8. CONSIDERING VOICE AND JUSTICE IN A POSTMODERN
WORLD..............................................77
v


9 .THE SEARCH FOR VOICE AND JUSTICE LEADS TO
RESISTANCE......................................84
APPENDIX A......................................98
BIBLIOGRAPHY...................................103
vi


An Analysis of Political Resistance and Moral Courage
the hottest places in Hell
are reserved for those who,
in a time of great crisis,
maintain their neutrality.
Dante
CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
In response to societal and community issues, there exists an
assumption that it is people's intent to evolve politically in an ethical"
fashion. Our challenge, as political scientists, in order to understand the
theory and reality of growth and change within a historical context, is to
define the fundamental pieces, foundational elements, and parameters of
ethical" action. Once determining what it means to act ethically as an
individual and/or as a community, we can begin to make judgments, or at
least begin a dialogue, regarding the political behaviors we study.
With this context in mind, I propose: when a conscientious and
courageous individual functioning within a larger system begins to feel
compromised, silenced, and without desired voice and power, she will
begin, in accordance with and commitment to ethical behavior, to work
against the status quo of the larger system. This action can be defined as
political resistance and is often fed by a culturally defined sense of moral
courage.
1


In addition, I propose that in an attempt to preserve the status quo and
to protect the power of the existing larger system, management via
intimidation, silencing, and control may result in systems that fail to be
open, responsive, and self-challenging. The individual will begin to find it
increasingly difficult to be heard, to gain a sense of power, and to observe
change in the system and/or situation at hand that has contributed to the
limiting of the individual.
The aforementioned play" of power seems inevitable. The systems
built purportedly to benefit the individual often, ironically, serve to control
and limit the individual. Those who provide political action intending to
inspire societal change must acknowledge the reality that large systems
maintain their status through control over less powerful individuals. The
natural consequence of this fact is a power-play that results in either
submission or resistance by the individual. For the purpose of this thesis, I
define power-play as a movement of power around and within situations.
There is a responsive quality about the play as well as an interrelatedness
and synchronicity. Power-plays may be spontaneous and possibly
inevitable. They emerge and evolve as well as acknowledge and react. I do
not use the term power-play to describe a weapon" utilized by one player
directed upon another; rather it is the condition existing in a world of multiple
events, involving the players included in these events.
Often the individual who acknowledges an inevitable loss of power to
2


a more powerful and potentially oppressive bureaucratic force, seeks
survival, voice, and political stance by resisting the controls imposed upon
her. The larger organization may shift to accommodate the successful
resistance by the individual; or the individual may eventually concede and
submit to the power of the larger system. The individual who chooses to
resist bears the consequences for her choice not to acquiesce. The
organization that chooses to control the individuals resistance through
silencing and intimidation faces its own set of consequences. The study of
political science without acknowledgement of this dynamic is a narrow one.
The purpose of this thesis is to identify and suggest the historical
significance of this power-play. Although one might choose to accept this
dynamic as a desirable element as well as a catalyst to needed political
discourse, I will suggest in this thesis an additional stance. This stance is
one that allows for an organizational or systemically facilitated
conversation-one I will label as a primary dialogue. This dialogue allows
for, and perhaps mandates, the creation of ethical systems.
As a political scientist, my agenda is one designed intentionally to
contribute toward the building and maintaining of an ethical society.
Ethical" as defined within my philosophical stance is that which is true to its
own developed standards. In other words, if a society proclaims through its
laws and systematic behaviors that freedom is valued and individual rights
are to be defended, then this society will behave ethically if individual
3


freedom is characteristically defended and unethically" if individual freedom
is compromised. In exploring the concepts of political resistance and moral
courage, I maintain that both are needed and exist as natural products of a
power dynamic that can shape the political systems that may evolve ethically
or otherwise.
My thesis will explore this topic utilizing published philosophical
treatises and case studies. The case studies that I will utilize are as follows:
Profiles In Courage by John F. Kennedy; the analysis of the protagonist,
Jack Burden, in Robert Penn Warrens novel All the Kina's Men: the
autobiographical Turning Point by Jimmy Carter; Serving in Silence by
Margarethe Cammermeyer; excerpts from the life of Martin Luther King as
reflected through his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"; and pieces from my
own struggle within the bureaucratic public school system outlined in the
article Principal Fights Jeffco School District to Retain Job, Dignity, by
Heather Draper, printed in the July, 1995 Colorado Woman News.
I will examine political and philosophical arguments regarding
systems and power by Michel Foucault, Charles Erasmus, Seyla Benhabib,
Lawrence Langer, and others. By placing these case studies within the
context of researched historical and philosophical frameworks, I will support
my thesis: a commitment to political survival may compel some individuals
to accept systemic injustice through compliance or on the contrary it may
invite others to act in morally courageous fashions in order to resist the
4


controlling, potentially oppressive, actions of larger systems; and
furthermore this action of resistance may ultimately benefit and foster the
development of ethical" individuals and communities. Ultimately, however,
if an organization, through policy creation, enforcement, and maintenance,
as well as overall leadership strategies, develops and nurtures an ongoing
"primary dialogue in order to support the ethical stance of the organization,
there stands a greater chance of negotiation, proactive conflict resolution,
and positive change. This change may, therefore, evolve without need for
significant acts of grave moral courage, martyrdom, and demanding
sacrifice.
5


CHAPTER 2
ASSUMPTIONS REGARDING REBELLION AND MORAL COURAGE
Both solitary individuals functioning as free agents within systems
and those aligned with and/or representing organizational power, face the
reality that in order to maintain a safe and chaos-free status, cooperation,
quiet mediation, compromise, or submission is at times preferred over the
conflict and struggle resulting from resistance. Actions of political resistance
bear the opportunity-cost where a state of apparent safety and predictability
through quiet compromise is traded for an often loud and challenging set of
circumstances that arise from acts of political resistance. These
circumstances often play themselves out in our courts and media.
The American culture stereotypically relies upon the sacrament of
individuality and rebellion as foundations for its social system. Our society,
in reality, particularly as reflected through our legal system, does not
support the lone rebel. It does more to deter political resistance through
expense, public exposure, and lengthy timeframes without resolve than to
support the process. In the end, it is only through historical hindsight and
retrospective acknowledgement (through books, television movies, and
other journalistic accounts) that we collectively celebrate the political
activist. During the process of political resistance, the individual is perhaps
privately acknowledged by peers as a brave soul, but may be immersed in
a punishing legal process or publicized media analysis. The political
6


resister, more often than not, becomes subject to economic sabotage since
she must find a system that will risk its own demise by employing her while
she tackles another oppressive system. This individual, therefore, may
become jobless, homeless, or threatened by opponents, and ultimately
faces alienation from a "normal existence because of her passionate
stance, belief, and subsequent action.
Despite the fact that moral courage and political resistance are
viewed retrospectively as desirable in the American culture that purportedly
supports the frontier independent spirit (e.g. Boston Tea Party, California
Gold Rush, competition in sports and economics), it is a very challenging, at
times near-death experience, for the individual who finds herself within it.
In addition, I find that political resistance, inspired by moral courage, not
only is necessary but is an inevitable action/reaction given the nature of the
situation we create by placing individuals within massive bureaucratic
systems that need to oppress and control in order to survive.
7


CHAPTER THREE
THE ROLE OF POWER
Our society is evolving, at times furiously, through a sea of confusion,
chaos, and struggle utilizing and employing a power-play dynamic. We
see this in almost every piece of our world including the environment,
economy, and politics. The power-relation dynamic is a formidable one for
the individual, the family, the community, and beyond. We see and feel it in
all that we do from the work place to the streets to the home. Creating
ethical systems and nurturing an internal ethical being seem vital and timely
pursuits. The existence of political resistance and moral courage
exemplifies the ethical quest. In order to build systems based upon ethical
thought and action (wherein we honor our intrinsic values and belief
systems through action), we must allow for and perhaps invite the kind of
struggle that honors and facilitates political resistance.
Viewing resistance as something to quash or control in order to
maintain order, secure predictability, and offer safety to community members
is, in my mind, a tragedy. Political resistance offers opportunities for
needed discourse to secure the very essence of humanity and community.
When the individual feels that she is losing voice and consequently pushes,
even against all odds, to regain expression-she is engaging in political
resistance. The moments that follow are embedded in a struggle that brings
definition to both individual and the larger system. Without this process we
8


merely march forward in life with a predictable regimentation. Within this
process we face the real potential of our fluid, responsive nature, and
ultimately recognize our abilities to change, evolve, grow, and direct our
path.
9


CHAPTER FOUR
AN ANALYSIS OF MORAL COURAGE IN POLITICAL SETTINGS:
CASE STUDIES
It would be impossible to develop a definitive treatise analyzing the
behavioral dynamics found within political settings without investigating
resistance and moral courage. This investigation should not only bring to
light the characteristics of a courageous stance, but describe conditions
observed via its absence. Certainly, in addition, the appearance or
absence of "neutrality" is an important aspect within this investigation.
Individual perception, insidious co-opting, control and oppression, in
addition to personal and political motivation, are all pieces to a puzzle which
frame the power-plays preluding rebellion, resistance, and acts of moral
courage. In addition, some fundamental questions are worth considering:
Why do some people defy and/or challenge systems and others maneuver
in a more obedient or appeasing manner? When is something a "great
crisis" demanding courageous response, and when is it simply a "reality"
with which to cope? This essay will attempt to explore these questions
within the context of examining the prototype of the morally courageous
individual. Involvement in such an analysis may contribute to a better
understanding of the political and historical process in relation to ethical
frameworks of human voice and vulnerability within power struggles.
10


I will examine several illustrations and interpretations of situations
involving morally courageous behaviors in order to define moral courage, as
well as attempt to identify some commonalities and develop philosophical
definitions and conclusions.
11


Profiles in Courage: The Ethics of Aloneness
John F. Kennedy shares Dantes position regarding the importance of
speaking out against atrocity as opposed to wallowing in neutrality.
Kennedy was fond of quoting Dante, as stated in brother Robert Kennedys
foreword of Profiles in Courage. The younger Kennedy uses the
introductory piece to further underscore his brother's ethical stance. He
describes John Kennedys
unwillingness] to witness or permit the slow
undoing of those human rights to which this
nation has always been committed, and to
which we are committed today at home and
around the world (p. xvii).
John Kennedy provides varied accounts of politicians who, in his
mind, acted with a sense of rare moral courage. He describes the origin,
the motivation, the perception of others toward these acts, and the overall
behavioral and historical dynamic that occurred individually and collectively.
Kennedy presupposes that politics "merely furnishes one arena which
imposes special tests of courage." In each instance an individual in and out
of politics must "look into his own soul" for answers regarding ethical
behavior (p. 258).
12


Within this political arena, Kennedy finds commonalities among those
expressing moral courage in their actions. They are all talented orators,
brilliant scholars, men whose affiliation spread beyond party and section,
and "above all, [those with] a deep-seated belief in themselves, their integrity
and the rightness of their cause" (p. 254). It is this "deep-seated belief" that
most closely represents Kennedy's passion and sentiment regarding
political behavior. (There exist, however, political players throughout
history such has Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber, and other militia or cult
leaders who have utilized unsanctioned violence to achieve a brand of
justice as defined within personal frameworks and motivated by deep-
seated belief and rightness of cause. When these players are compared
to the type of hero Kennedy characterizes, many questions arise regarding
the definition of righteousness.)
The politicians that Kennedy includes in his work all offered a wide
range of political patterns and beliefs; they at times showed good sense and
other times did not. In other words, their decisions and actions at times
proved to be "wrong" in the long run. It was, therefore, not their timeliness of
opinion, force of presence and/or belief, or uncanny ability always to know
what is best for self and country; rather it was their belief in self and their own
ethical foundation regardless of potential negative consequence, that made
these men morally courageous. Their behaviors, decisions, actions, and
beliefs also defined these men as contributors to a truly democratic society
which lives and grows with
13


faith that the people will not simply elect men
who will represent their views ably and faith-
fully, but also elect men who will exercise
their conscientious judgment-faith that the
people will not condemn those whose devotion
to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but
will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately
recognize right (p. 256-257).
Overall, Kennedy believes his portraits of heroism illustrate courage
through a characteristic need to maintain (one's) own respect for self (over)
popularity with others... and desire to maintain office (p. 251).
A clear example of this sort of courageous politicking comes with
Kennedy's profile of Senator Oscar W. Underwood of Alabama. Senator
Underwood condemned the Ku Klux Klan at a time (the 1920's) when it was
a rising power of growing popularity. He was aware of the Klan movement's
contradiction to democratic values. Underwood was, in turn, publicly
repudiated by Southerners; he lost chances for nomination for the
Presidency and eventually lost reelection to the Senate. The historical view
of this outcome, as analyzed by Frank Kent, included the following
retrospective conclusion:
Had Senator Underwood played the game in
Alabama in accord with the sound political
rule of seeming to say something without
doing so, there would have been no real oppo-
sition to his remaining in the Senate for the
balance of his life (p. 238).
14


This example certainly underscores Kennedy's own experience as a
young Congressman, who was instructed by other Senators that "the way to
get along, is to go along" (p. 3).
Overall, John F. Kennedy, in his highly acclaimed treatise on political
courage, states that the politician who follows the independent course will
find himself essentially alone. He will face the disdain and removal of
support from colleagues, party, and financiers. The consequences are
severe for living within one's moral framework with conscience and integrity,
and often the result is the ending of a political career. At times, as in the
case of John Quincy Adams and John Tyler, the ending of the career came
through an exercise of their own will in supporting a cause in principle. At
times the result is "success," as in the case of Daniel Webster, who took a
strong, independent political stance to uphold the Union during a tenuous
time when that stance infuriated his peers and threatened his political future.
Websters choice proved the right" one, and historic events supported it;
but such is not always the case.
As Kennedy attests, "Great crises produce great men and deeds of
courage" (p. 57). Those who face decisions of great moral conscience deal
with the "ultimate choice [which] involved the breaking of old loyalties and
friendships, and the prospect of humiliating political defeat" (p. 58). Such
15


were the cases with all of his "profiles in courage," particularly Edmund G.
Ross.
Ross was a Republican senator from Kansas who strongly opposed
President Andrew Johnson and the politics of slavery and slave states. Yet
despite his politics, Ross held true to himself and his belief in what was
morally "right" and "fair" when he opposed what he determined was an
unfair process in the impeachment trial of the President. He voted "not
guilty" and faced the horrid consequences of extreme alienation and
humiliation. Subsequently, "[e]very incident in his life was examined and
distorted" (p. 146). His motivations for opposing the removal of Johnson
were questioned, and he was accused of taking bribes and "loving money
more than principle". No one listened when he tried to explain his vote
(p. 148-149). Neither Ross nor any other who voted for the acquittal of
Johnson was ever re-elected.
Being morally courageous means facing the truth within oneself and
furthermore supporting the truth through action despite possible horrendous
consequence. Kennedy expresses a commitment to internal ideals as
reflected through action within his passionate historical accounts and own
political contentions. Facing this truth can be a lonely, alienating journey
wherein the truly courageous person travels ethically, yet remains ultimately
quite alone. Compromise and the possibility of getting along to achieve
personal and organizational goals are viable options available along the
16


path of the morally courageous. Making choices based on situational
dilemmas may be the only rule of thumb involved in the life of the political
resister. The decision to passionately fight or strategically comply still
remains a decision one makes alone while integrating the voice of the
individual conscience.
17


Robert Penn Warren: The Neutrality of History and the Hero on the Pinnacle
The theory of historical costs, you might put it.
All change costs something. You have to write
off the costs against the gain. Maybe in our state
change could only come in the terms in which it
was taking place, and it was sure due for some
change. The theory of the moral neutrality of
history, you might call it. Process as process
is neither morally good nor morally bad. We
may judge the results but not the process. The
morally bad agent may perform the deed which
is good. The morally good agent may perform the
deed which is bad. Many a man has to sell
his soul to get the power to do good.
The theory of historical costs. The theory of the
moral neutrality of history. All that was a high
historical view from a chilly pinnacle. Maybe it took
a genius to see it... Maybe you had to get chained
to the high pinnacle... Maybe it took a genius to
see it. Maybe it took a hero to act on it
(p. 393-394).
This discussion of moral courage and heroism in the context of
neutrality is offered through the words of Jack Burden, the protagonist in
Robert Penn Warren's All the Kina's Men.
This concept of men being morally good or bad within the inherently
neutral backdrop of history is a provocative one. Burden faces the intense
drama of the 1920-1930's when powerful political players fight for power,
love, money, and accomplishment. Burden seeks meaning in what he
witnesses in his internal and external world.
18


in this vibrant political novel, Warren presents and interprets the belief
systems of various individuals within the growing conscience of a nation.
The presence of power and will exist within individuals despite the potential
of a climate of moral neutrality that surrounds them. Each person faces the
potential of a life that will offer opportunities to make critical choices. These
choices can be made based on core belief systems or simple convenience.
Warren states that History is blind, but man is not" (p. 436). When
interpreting the influence of history and the role of the individual, one may
consider a sea upon which a surfer rides. Utilization of purposeful direction
and strategy remains within the reach of the surfer. The sea, playing the part
of historic and contemporary climate, remains neutral and blind to the
intentions and deliberations of the surfer. The sea offers waves, ebbs and
flows, unexpected breaks, as well as a serendipitous calm. The political
player or surfer has the power to direct her course, fall, get back up, tread
water, call for help, and/or drown. One may argue that the power of destiny
and the possibility of an accident renders the surfer helpless in controlling
the ride. Another argument may simply support the fact that the surfer is the
only player with access to free will or deliberate action-the sea, the sky, the
potential of weather change are all neutral entities.
The observer on the beach may watch and criticize the surfer. This
observer may decide that the surfers decisions were poor, impulsive,
lacking in courage, lacking in skill, and/or incongruent with the surfers
19


beliefs about surfing. To further complicate this issue, a dialogue may ensue
among the surfing community seeking definition about the success or lack
thereof of a surfers ride. Participants in this dialogue may suggest that
success is not determined by whether or not the surfer reaches the shore
safely and survives the ride. An amazing and creative ride may in itself
determine the success of a ride through a sea where shoreside observers
may watch, be influenced, and tell the story to others, even if the surfer has
died in the process.
In the end, however, questions regarding moral courage are linked
ultimately to the surfer's will and individual conscience. The sea and the
beachside observer may offer only reactions to the behaviors of the surfer-
rendering them neutral historical props" in the surfers play. To expand
upon this, history can be viewed as neutral where the individual holds the
will and power. When considering the hero, it may prove worthwhile to see
the courage within a process of struggle and decision. It may be deceiving
to judge the hero solely based on the climate, history, or sea in which she
has been tossed and thrown. This argument supports the presupposition
that history is neutral, man/woman/surfer are not.
It is not only Warren who speaks to the role of political moral choices.
Kennedy admits to the potential and power of neutrality in his quote of
Abraham Lincoln:
20


There are few things wholly evil or wholly good.
Almost everything, especially of Government
policy, is an inseparable compound of the two,
so that our best judgment of the preponderance
between them is continually demanded (p. 255).
In addition, Kennedy quotes John Morely in concluding that "choice
constantly lies between two blunders" (p.5).
The words of Kennedy and Warren analyze the presence of a neutral
historical structure wherein compromising dynamics challenge individuals to
make choices and utilize moral courage and great will in order to express
their personal ethics.
At first Burden walks through life seemingly without true affiliation and
courage. He begins quite stagnant through his display of personal
neutrality. Burden continues his journey through moral decay towards a
process of spiritual death, rebirth, and eventual acceptance of his own
power and integrity. Specifically, he is not even certain of his own motives
for being a doctoral student of history, an assistant to Willie Stark, the man
behind the local political machine, or for pursuing his intimate interests in
love and life. All the King's Men shows Jack Burden as a man faced with
various demanding circumstances, including the seduction by Stark of the
woman he loves and the sudden synchronistic deaths of Stark and close
friend Adam Stanton. All these events pose as incentives and trials for
Burden to find his own integrity.
21


Burden chooses to journey west in order to flee his situation and
search to find himself within the context of some greater meaning. In this
search and struggle, Jack Burden realizes that the process of life falls into
place in a somewhat random, haphazard manner without the influence of
deliberate thought and action, without the advent of will. He concludes that
"life is but the dark heave of blood and the twitch of the nerve" (p. 311).
When a person understands this secret of life, he or she becomes one with
the "Great Twitch." This would place the surfer on a board limply and
apathetically riding out the waves without desire, intent, and deliberate
action. The sea and the surfer merge in a world of haphazard emptiness.
After a major shift in the course of events, and after the people around
him face their own sense of self and inner meaning, Jack Burden evolves
into a man more representative of Dante's declaration of responsibility. He
rejects the randomness of the twitch" and, instead, chooses to moves more
with a sense individual responsibility and promotion of ethical action despite
the neutrality that faces him in his daily life.
It is this final realization that is well-framed in the opening quote to this
section. Warren concludes, through Burden's words, that the hero is able to
transcend the neutrality of history to achieve moral greatness by achieving a
place high on a "chilly" pinnacle. It is that person who is often "chained"
(by others or by his or her design) to this pinnacle.
22


Herein lies the historical cost. In other words, as Kennedy suggests
through his profiles, the hero is often also the "martyr," inevitably "chained" to
a high pinnacle to which he or she climbs through the atmosphere of
neutrality, much like the surfer riding the rageful sea. The climate throughout
the ascent to the pinnacle and through the tempestuous ride implies neither
ultimate "good" nor ultimate "bad". The actor, the climber, the individual
exercising moral courage, becomes "good" or "bad" by struggling with the
will, the way, the technique, and the motivation to ascend, or not to ascend
to the top, and if necessary to affix him or herself to this apex. It is this
process, this journey, and inevitably this state of being, that contribute to the
overall definition of moral courage.
As Warren, Kennedy, and Dante attest, some individuals choose the
more challenging path of resistance; others avoid it.
In the end, according to Kennedy, despite the scrutiny of history,
pressure from peers, the safety of the status quo and comfort of current
status, the potential seduction of future success, ambition, and/or general
fear, if one is to be courageous on the moral frontier one "must place first the
responsibility we owe not to our party or even to constituents but to our
individual consciences" (p. 16). In addition, in Warren's words, "if you
believe in the dream, you dream when you go there" (p. 311). This may
suggest that the dream" of the hero must accompany her throughout her
ride through life, this allegiance keeps her linked to her conscience. If one
23


has a dream, announces it but later abandons it when the path becomes
rocky, then the dream has been compromised and the dreamer may need to
revisit her intention. The surfers allegiance to her success and integrity is in
the ride, the commitment to the ride, and the understanding of her role. It is
not simply in making it back to shore safely.
A man or woman of moral courage, as defined by Warren and
Kennedy, turns inward for guidance and may find that the very thing that
defines her greatness may, in fact, be the very thing that builds the
foundation for his or her own destruction.
This characteristic seems an appropriate introduction to the next case
study, involving the actions of former President Jimmy Carter, who opposes
the politics of his times, the politics of his party, and the intimidation of
generations of historical precedents to carve his place among those of the
morally courageous.
24


Jimmv Carter's Turning Point: A Chance for an Individual and a
Nation
Kennedy characterizes the two Adamses, father and son, as the only
Presidents not elected for a second term in the first fifty years of our nation's
history. He, however, states:
Yet their failures, if they can be called
failures, were the result of their own
undeviating devotion to what they considered
to be the public interest and the result of the
inability of their contemporaries to match
the high standards of honor and rectitude
that they brought to public life
(Profiles in Courage, p. 39).
This description can be interpreted as political foreshadowing of the
Carter administration. Carter, also not elected to a second term in office, is
often thought of as too naive about "machinations" of Washington. A man
of great integrity, Carter tells the roots of his political belief systems in his
inspirational autobiography entitled Turning Point.
The events that inspired Carter to write this book are those primarily
associated with his 1962 campaign for U.S. Senator. These events led to
the "first real defeat for the old system on its own turf-that helped to end the
legalized system of white supremacy, rural domination of government, and
deprivation of civil rights among our neighbors" (p. xxiv). Throughout this
campaign, Carter shows a relentless strategy embedded in a professional
25


and personal integrity, in which he would not yield to what he views as a
long-lived injustice. This injustice was primarily allowed through a county
unit system which represented sparsely populated rural counties with the
same weight as it did more populated urban centers with regard to state
elections. In addition, Carter provides a variety of examples that prove the
existence of manipulation, intimidation of citizens, and the overall creation
and maintenance of a climate that influenced voter turn-out and decisions.
Carter also reveals the reality of blatant fraud and corruption as ballot boxes
were "stuffed" with the votes of deceased or otherwise absent voters. In
other words, for a long time a few people controlled the lives of many and
were able to greatly influence the path of history.
Carter's willingness to pursue political office as a clear underdog
amid a political climate that openly defied his own philosophies, particularly
regarding minority rights, is truly heroic. He risked the health and welfare of
his business, family, and standing in the community. Carter contested the
actions of people who have held social and political power for decades and
is willing to push his case through many bureaucratic steps, all while facing
seemingly unmovable pockets of power that have existed for generations.
In the end, Carter tells a victorious story. In spite of the fact that he
faces a series of setbacks (legal and otherwise), the pressure of long hours
and fatigue, the cloudy confusion of an abstract political process, and the
haunting realization that his battle may end in defeat at any time, Carter,
26


against all odds, is sworn in as U.S. Senator in 1963. Despite this
encouraging example of how systems can change, even when they are
deeply entrenched, and "good" can overcome apparent "evil, one cannot
help but wonder how many stories go untold of similar battles in which those
deserving to prevail are defeated by a system and circumstance that will not
yield.
Jimmy Carter is one example of an ethical man exhibiting a timely
sense of moral courage in his quest for a senatorial seat and well-deserved
place within a process protecting what he views as a just democratic political
system. Throughout his book, Carter portrays his personal and family
history as one representing hard work, honest labor, ethics, and community
involvement, particularly in the area of education. Carter could have lived a
long life and died a respected citizen without ever leaving Plains, Georgia.
Carter's choice to challenge a system and situation that he found unjust
came from his internal sense of justice inspired by his moral courage. The
catalyst for him to fight for change did not arise from an external source or
unethical motivation such as greed or ambition.
In Turning Point, the reader witnesses both Jimmy Carter's
transformation from socially responsible peanut farmer into political activist
and elected official, and the evolution of a governmental system and nation.
Carter's opinions regarding equal rights for minorities and his empathy for
those living in poverty are well-expressed. He juxtaposes these concerns
27


with the overall Southern community values that resist an acceptance of
minorities as equals. The reader quickly becomes aware that Carter is
fighting a personal as well as political battle. He is not merely running for
office with a unique platform. Carter confronts a system that he feels is
ultimately unjust and attempts to change a culture that he frames as narrow
and prejudiced. The practical consequences for Carter mean far more than
potential loss of political office. Carter must continue to live and work in a
community that is being questioned harshly by his voice and actions.
Carter's overall quest for justice, adherence to his own individual set
of principles despite public pressure, resistance to popular pressure, and
integrity with regards to listening and behaving in accordance with his own
heart make his an excellent example of moral courage. He is certainly
morally courageous by Kennedy's standards and Dante's caveat. His story
is also an example supportive of Warren's presupposition that men and
woman possess a will that transcends the often demoralizing climate of
neutrality.
Overall, utilizing Warren and Kennedy's framework, one can say that
Carter as a young peanut farmer, does not incorporate the more accepted
and comfortable racist perspective of his peers and era into his personal
stance. He chooses to challenge the political circumstances of his time
despite the potential consequence to his personal and professional
existence. He certainly takes the lonely road, climbs to the "pinnacle" via
28


ethical stance, and confronts the intimidating, manipulative atrocity of
corruption. He challenges the very societal and political framework deemed
as appropriate by his peers. In the end, he makes difficult, valiant, and
ultimately heroic choices to overcome the challenges of his time. Carter
seems to have taken this same strategy into the White House years later as
President.
Carter is also a stunning example of Kierkegaard's poignant analysis
of people and history wherein "life is lived forward but understood
backwards. Carter's work is most truly a testament to this view. In many
ways, Carter is a misunderstood man; his controversial courageous stance
does meet with political success. This success, however, has its limits as he
is not reelected to the nation's highest office. History's interpretation of
Carter's politics, however, evolves with time, or is "understood backwards."
Defined as courageous, but often considered a naive political player, Carter
after losing a second term as President is later redeemed when recruited by
the current administration as a foreign policy expert to settle volatile affairs in
Haiti. His work worldwide, including Habitat for Humanity, is highly
respected and his wisdom deliberately sought.
29


Courage Through Silence and Voice-Dr. Maraarethe Cammermever
Inspired by both the autobiography Serving in Silence and a talk on
the books subject by Dr. Margarethe Cammermeyer, I arranged an interview
for the purpose of further understanding her source of moral courage.
Dr. Cammermeyer is a former nurse in Vietnam, the mother of four, a
Colonel, and Chief Nurse of the Washington State National Guard who lost
(temporarily, it seems) her career when she admitted during a routine
security clearance interview that she was a lesbian. Dr. Cammermeyer
told me during a telephone conversation from her home in Washington that
her mission in life was to "do" and have her actions be "kind, gracious,
forgiving, gentle and leading through example." She hopes to help
eliminate hate through a "life exhibiting dignity, and nurturing mutual
respect." She is willing to "reach out to people who hate" and this perhaps
is her "greater purpose."
Dr. Cammermeyer, in addition to her other life accomplishments, is
the recipient of the Nurse of the Year Award by the Veteran's Administration
and the Bronze Star for her duty in Vietnam. Recently she successfully
challenged the decision leading to her discharge. This decision is currently
being appealed by the military.
Dr. Cammermeyer feels that the potential of her "lost career" allows
for a "blossoming" in her life. The adversity is an inspiration for her to find
30


greater meaning in life; in fact, it became a "higher meaning" helping her
better contribute to society and assist in the fight to change the stereotype
regarding homosexuality. She believes that her work can promote an
elevation beyond hate and fear. Dr. Cammermeyer feels that people need
to be educated regarding the way people are treated when they are different
in order to understand better what it really means to be ostracized and
stereotyped.
When I questioned Dr. Cammermeyer on her impressive ability to
survive the horror of her discharge, which had meant alienation from career
and the loss of daily work, pension, benefits, and professional validation,
she stressed the importance of finding a higher plane. You cannot move
to a higher plane until you move beyond your own set foundation. Once
you have shed what it is that you believe once defined you, you can move to
a higher place. Dr. Cammermeyer admits that she faced a tremendous
fear, traveled through it, and broke the harness of that fear. She feels she
can now approach her life with greater strength and renewed commitment to
herself, her family, and her work.
Dr. Cammermeyers personal history did not necessarily predict that
she would follow the path of a champion for civil rights. She was born and
raised in the 1940's and 50's in a traditional Norwegian household
dominated by patriarchy. She was supported and encouraged to marry,
birth children and join the military. She was a career officer, a devoted
31


mother, and committed nurse. As she developed a gradual understanding
of who she was as an individual, recognizing her own needs, her sexuality,
and her identity, she began to acknowledge that she was not an
"appendage of her husband, her father, or the military." She now feels that
her identity was lost or camouflaged by her uniform. By losing this buffer or
material definition of who she was, Dr. Cammermeyer was "forced" to look
more deeply into herself as an independent woman. She concluded that
the process of fighting her discharge from the military was just another piece
of her development as a whole person.
Currently, Dr. Cammermeyer does not define her challenge to the
powerful U. S. military system as an act of moral courage. She feels it was
more a "refusal to be silent" and her willingness to "take a stand" for others
who, for whatever reason, cannot do so for themselves. She recognizes the
courage of all those throughout history who have fought oppression and
injustice. She feels that her actions merely represent reciprocity for the
courageous work of those who came before her, leaving her a benefactor of
their deeds and beliefs. She is especially inspired by stories she was told
of the Norwegian women resistance fighters during the Nazi threat during
World War II. These women were tortured and interrogated but remained
strong and true to their convictions throughout the atrocity of their lives and
their world.
Dr. Cammermeyer was clear that a potentially devastating situation
32


was for her a "conduit. .an extraordinary opportunity" for her to participate in
a David and Goliath scenario of challenging and hopefully altering the
stance of the dominating patriarchy. In many ways, Dr. Cammermeyer feels
that the military is not the real problem and that it is one of many systems
needing change. In fact, she states that the military is a "scapegoat" for
much of society's greater ills. She believes there is evidence of prejudice,
injustice, and silencing everywhere. We need to work on reaching out and
educating all people.
Although Dr. Cammermeyer does not view her acts as ones
associated with moral courage, historical analysis of her decisions can be
viewed as excellent examples of powerful political resistance. Inspired by
intrinsic strength and a willingness to remain true to personal ethical
frameworks, Dr. Cammermeyer worked through an at times apathetic and
inhumane climate to remain visible and heard. Her refusal to remain silent"
is certainly one that was not easy to maintain. Her acts are, at the very least,
willful and far from the path of neutrality and co-optation.
33


CHAPTER FIVE
PERSONAL CASE STUDY: WHEN OPEN IS CLOSED
To study the lives and actions of others to establish criteria for moral
development is an engaging endeavor. Using external models and case
studies to develop philosophical foundations leading to a reflective treatise
is valuable as it contributes to the creation of a more spiritually developed
world. This process has value for the author and value for the audience.
Simply stated, there is merit within the examination of external models
wherein one can look at another and say, "This person was brave
considering the circumstances. That person made a difficult and
courageous decision; therefore, she is a political resister, a person with
moral courage." However, the question remains: how do we make these
judgments when examining one's own life and actions?
The following case study is my own. My decision to return to a
university setting and study political science, a discipline only partly
connected to other fields of study I have undertaken in my past, was
motivated by the circumstances that I will outline in this section. In fact, this
treatise is an intentional process to explore a compelling and controversial
situation I encountered as a school administrator, to identify factors and
dynamics that led to this situation and my role within it, and most importantly,
to draw conclusions regarding my character, choices, and actions that
evolved from it. I recognize that I do not offer the same objectivity afforded
34


in the other case studies. I see my own struggle, rage, and ambivalence far
more clearly than I do any clear definition of who I was in this situation and
what I did. In any case, I was faced with a moral and ethical dilemma and
found myself taking a path that was unorthodox and that demanded a bold
spirit which I had to look deeply within myself to find.
I began my teaching career in my early twenties among a score of late
1970's university graduates who entered "save the world" vocations. By
the age of 30, I was passionately involved in educational reform as a
classroom instructor, activist, writer, committee and task force member,
parent, and learner. At age 34; I was a program director; by 36,1 was an
assistant principal, and by 37, I was a school principal. My academic record
was impressive, my portfolio comprehensive and representative of honors,
achievements, and recommendations from noteworthy individuals, and my
future seemed secure as well as exciting, challenging, and well-deserved
after years of hard work and loyal service to what has been defined as a
thankless career.
Before the end of my first year as school principal at the Jefferson
County Open School within Jefferson County Schools in Colorado, I was
non-renewed on the basis of a complaint of sexual harassment from an adult
staff member. Within a time period of 18 days I was charged, investigated,
and informed of my impending non-renewal. I was offered an opportunity to
resign with a letter of recommendation. I refused; doing so, for me, would
35


have felt like an admission of guilt, as well as an action of betrayal toward
myself and those who believed and supported me. In addition it would be
an unethical and dishonest solution to avoid the discomfort that
accompanies a fight against an overwhelming, intimidating, and seemingly
insurmountable bureaucracy.
Seventeen days later I was placed on paid administrative leave. This
district action occurred only after I had challenged a district administrator's
integrity with regards to the inconsistency and hypocrisy of systematic action
which allowed me to continue in the building in my role as principal when I
was assumed guilty of sexual harassment and the creation of a "hostile
environment." While I perhaps "baited" him into action, my point was
motivated by anger as well as ethics; his response came from a place
inspired by fear and preparation regarding a potential litigation.
This leave included strict limitations regarding my access to school
property and activities, including the classes I taught, the advisees with
whom I worked, and the processes and celebratory functions to which I had
strongly contributed in the past. I was required to contact the deputy
superintendent responsible for the decision regarding my non-renewal in
order to obtain permission to visit the school, attend functions, pick up and
drop off materials, meet with staff for closure, etc. In addition, when I called
the administration building to obtain my personnel file to aid my lawyer in
setting the foundation for my case against the district, I was informed that all
36


of my calls were being forwarded to Dr. Lewis Finch, the Jefferson County
superintendent. I was forbidden to speak directly to any department of the
district's administration. When I contacted the personnel office at Denver
Public Schools (DPS) to inquire as to my employment status, Dick Jordan,
the interim personnel director and my former assistant principal during my
years of teaching at Denvers Abraham Lincoln High School, checked with
Denvers administration all the way to the top and advised me that I could
not work for DPS even through he didnt know what to say in defense of the
decision. He informed me of this situation in the form of a short message on
my answering machine tape. This blacklisting from Denver Public Schools
kept me from participation on any level, including substitute teaching,
despite my decade-long history in this district without incident.
In essence, I went from honored and celebrated educator to exiled
and monitored criminal in less time than it takes to complete an introductory
education class.
My process to regain my job, self-respect, and sense of worth as a
teacher, administrator, and political player placed me in an activist role
wherein I was more committed to exposing what I deemed an injustice than
simply regaining employment. This plea asked for a reexamination, a
reframing, and ultimately a revision of strategies and approaches regarding
educational reform. These strategies and approaches, in my view, lacked,
and still do, a comprehensive and focused emphasis on personal and
37


organizational integrity and ethics.
My non-renewal certainly supplied me with an opportunity to rethink
my life. I was a single mother and the sole support of two children; I needed
an income to survive. I was an educated professional desiring work" that
reflected my values, beliefs, and dreams for a better world. I was a colleague
to a community of educators, parents, and students. I was not looking
forward to the termination of this support structure and alienation from my
community of choice. I was a citizen in a country that I believed, for the most
part, protected individual freedom. This opportunity for reconsideration
placed me in a situation in which I began to place my life within a greater
context. I began to expand and challenge my assumptions regarding
educational systems and potentiality of reform.
Dr. Richard A. Weber, executive director of the Colorado Association
of School Executives (an agency with funding to assist me with my legal
fight), wrote an article entitled "Will the Real Reform Model Please Stand
Up!" Dr. Weber is an educator for whom I have great respect. I have read
his educational philosophy, I have heard him speak, and I have witnessed
his integrity and courage with regard to systems analysis and change. So it
is with all due respect that I use his most recent monograph as an example
of how we continue to miss the boat as an educational community. In this
article, Dr. Weber surveys three philosophical approaches to educational
systematic reform: traditional or back to basics, outcome-based, and
38


standards-based. He passionately and articulately argues that all the "stuff"
that makes up the sociopolitical drama of school reform indeed reflects
fragmentation, illusion, and struggle. When we add a discussion regarding
delivery systems along with the never ending values debate that is the
foundation for the reform agendas, it is no wonder that the public is
paralyzed within frantic confusion.
If I had read this article prior to my personal and professional trauma, I
would have found it thought-provoking and suitably profound-it was
supportive of my philosophy with regard to school reform. I now find it
peripheral in its overall message. In the past, I chose to focus more on the
importance of the brand of educational approaches discussed in Webers
writing. I carefully considered educational program design within the context
of reform within my teaching and management roles. I believed that teaching
strategies and programmatic considerations were are the heart of creating
responsive educational organizations. Currently, however, I feel a greater
urgency to commit myself to activism involved in the creation of morally and
ethically defensible systems. The development of these systems is
ultimately dependent upon the behaviors of the individuals within them.
This latter strategy, for me, is more relevant than one more focused on
politically correct educational dogma. In the end, a world can create on
paper good schools and work places which, in a short time, can be
destroyed by immoral, unethical, or even neutral players. Ultimately, school
organizations can follow state-of-the-art strategies involved in authentic
39


teaching and learning, but if the players within the organization display fear-
based actions whereby ill-will, deceit, and malice result in scapegoating and
assassination, all the careful educational planning and implementation will
be for naught.
40


Some History
From 1992-1994, I served as school administrator (first as assistant
principal and subsequently as principal) for the Jefferson County Open
School located in Lakewood, Colorado. Lakewood is a suburb of Denver,
and the Jefferson County School District (Jeffco) is the state's largest school
district. Jeffco serves over 80,000 students, employs over 10,000 full- and
part-time people, and covers more than 800 square miles of the state
including rural and urban regions.
The Open School is a districtwide school of choice educating 650
students from preschool through high school. The school which existed at
the Lakewood location for three years prior to my arrival, previously
functioned as two separate schools: Mountain Open, a small secondary
program in the mountain community of Evergreen about 30 miles from
Denver, and Tanglewood, the combination elementary/middle school
situated in Golden within a quasi-rural setting across the road from the
Jefferson County Administrative building, seven miles from the city of
Denver. The Districts decision to combine the two programs was due to
concerns that included finances and convenience. The merged schools
were relocated to an out-dated, centrally located junior high school building
in disrepair. The building that had housed Mountain Open was condemned
and later torn down. The new Evergreen Public Library stands in its place.
To my knowledge, a preschool program and some office space now utilize
41


the old Tanglewood facility. Mountain Open and Tanglewood were both
programs birthed from 1960s educational theory which commonly
incorporates open classrooms, parental involvement, and self-directed
learning (Neill, A.S., Summerhill. A Radical Approach to Child Rearing Hart
Publishing, NY, NY, 1960).
The Open School as a new, improved, and unified entity proclaimed a
philosophy in alignment with the continuation of the traditional programs of
both schools. This philosophy included experiential curriculum, authentic
assessment, collaborative decision making, community involvement,
individual freedom and choice, reinforcement of creativity, and risk taking, as
well as physical, mental, and spiritual challenge all within an elementary-
through-high-school educational organization.
This merger proved to be a tremendous burden as well as potential
opportunity to the community of local businesses, parents, students, and
staff. Despite the common assumption that all "open" schools share the
same philosophy, it immediately became apparent that combining
Tanglewood and Mountain Open High School was no more a natural match
than consolidating any two schools or programs. In fact, the intrinsically
passionate and intense characteristics of alternative programs, so obvious
in these two schools, made the programmatic move more dramatic and
consuming, in my opinion, than if the schools had been more conventional
in nature.
42


In 1992, when I entered the picture at the beginning of the fourth year
of this newly consolidated open school, the organization was still extremely
fragmented. The elementary school was comprised of three
developmental^ based sections which worked quite autonomously. The
middle school existed physically within the high-school wing of the building,
a location oppositional to its philosophical, historic, and personal
allegiances with the elementary program (due to old Tanglewood
camaraderie). This middle-level program was truly in the middle and was
structured quite differently from the rest of the school and in many ways
functioned as a separate school. In addition to this dynamic, the high-
school program still existed spiritually and culturally as the old "Mountain
Open or, as some community people labeled it: Happy Hippie High."
Resentment from the K-8 community ran rampant toward the high-school
program because of the perception of unaccountability of both staff and
students, a cavalier attitude with regard to responsibility, and possible drug
use among the high-school community-adults and young people alike.
The principal of the school, Ruth Steele, was a reserved woman in
her fifties who worked with great intent to run the school as a tight ship. She
had been involved with the school for over two decades as parent, teacher,
and eventually high school administrator. She developed impressive
diplomatic ties with the district and reinforced the school's external respect
and credibility. She followed in the footsteps of a well-known local
charismatic leader, Arnie Langberg, whose impressive reputation for
43


inspiring alternative programs nationwide precedes him to this day. He left
Mountain Open before the merger to develop additional programs in the
Denver Public Schools system, and Steele took over with some reluctance.
Steeles personal characteristics were more rigid and controlling than
the freeform and energetic style of her predecessor. Staff, parents, and
students for the most part found it difficult to communicate with her and
frequently used me as a buffer and sounding board for their frustrations and
hurt feelings with regard to interactions with her. My style was more
outgoing, fluid, and personable; in many ways, therefore, fellow staff
members described my entrance into the school as a "breath of fresh air" or,
as one colleague put it, much like "fresh meat being thrown into a tank of
piranhas."
The attention I received was flattering, as well as discomforting. It
was something to which I was not accustomed. In addition, I struggled
within a process of understanding and accepting my own new-found
perception of myself personally and professionally, and of placing this in the
framework of how others perceived me. I would imagine that most leaders,
particularly those new to the role, find themselves caught in this challenging
dynamic. If I had been clearer, more experienced, personally stronger and
healthier, I would have seen the red flags flying furiously around me.
Instead, I did my job and at the expense of my personal life, worked
intensely 60+ hours per week, and found a niche at the Jefferson County
44


Open School.
In my mind an unconscious scapegoating process had been long in
the making and its potential was entrenched in the system. Steele was set
up and protected as a villain. I was set up and protected as a savior. In
reality neither of us deserved the reputations or roles we were assigned and
duly accepted. Thus, the dysfunctional family system model developed by
John Bradshaw in the 1980s thoroughly thrived under the guise of a public
school.
Toward the end of my first year, Steele announced that she would be
taking a one-year leave of absence. The school began a process of
validation regarding my appointment as interim principal for the following
year. The assistant-principal position would be filled by Dr. John Hefty,
deputy superintendent of Jefferson County Schools at the time. It was
Hefty's original idea, progressive for the times, that district central
administrators would provide dual service roles, one role positioned to serve
directly within an individual school and one continuing at a central
administration capacity. This strategy was meant to keep the central
administrators in touch with the building-level dynamic as well as to
address the current serious financial crisis.
Hefty was my former instructor at the University of Denver. We had
an excellent working relationship. I trusted him. In addition, he announced
45


that he respected and valued me as a graduate student and educational
leader and stated that there was probably no other Jefferson County
administrator other than me who would not be threatened by the existence of
a "superior" serving as a subordinate in the building.
Prior to the appearance of the complaint, Hefty had proclaimed
verbally to me and before Open School staff and community, as well as
testified in writing, that he fully supported me as continuing principal of the
school. At one point he went so far as to compare me to Thomas
Sergiovanni, a well-respected and published educator. Even after the
complaint, he stated that he found me to be a "brilliant leader" and would, if
he were superintendent of another district, hire me as building administrator
"in a minute." Hefty received the appointment of District Superintendent of
Eagle Valley Schools at the close of the year I was non-renewed. I have
not contacted him for an interview-1 am not certain his promise was sincere
or that I would be safe under his leadership. When my references were
checked by my current employers during my hiring process, Hefty echoed
the sentiment that he would rehire" me.
In reality, despite good intentions, a deputy superintendent cannot
logistically perform the job of a full-time assistant principal in addition to
central district management. Therefore, our school was provided with an
additional allocation of two half-time teacher-on-special-assignment staffing
allowances (TOSAs). We efficiently used these slots and created an
46


impressive administrative team reflecting the spirit of authentic shared
leadership. Hefty, out of necessity, eventually reduced his commitment to
the Open School to five hours per week at the school and before the end of
the year completely pulled out of his role as assistant principal. Hefty
became the target of growing community criticism and resentment due to his
lack of involvement and authentic buy-in with regard to the workings of the
school. People rapidly grew to mistrust him and saw him more as a
politician than as a supporter of the Open School community. I defended
his role as an appropriate effort to creatively solve budget-crunch issues and
increase site awareness of central administrators. I stated that his service in
the building was still valuable to me as mentor and district liaison.
Bottom line? My first year as a building administrator was plagued
with the challenge of working in a unique preschool-through-high-school
setting with historical dynamics that made the situation extremely difficult.
My primary goals as a school administrator were to encourage a re-
examination of educational program goals and strategies. In addition, I
hoped to cultivate a climate in which relationships and communication styles
would become more honesty- than fear-based. I supported staff members
to look at their personal past and the schools organizational history in order
to make needed changes for individual and community. Although there
seemed support for these strategies, staff members found it more comfort-
able to focus their attention on an external celebration of me and what I was
trying to do rather than beginning the internal hard work of developing
47


healthier relationships. These healthier relationships would include honest
confrontation with others with whom they had been enmeshed in deceptive
personal dynamics for years. Staff relationships lacked trust and mutual
respect. Overall, the community struggled on personal and professional
levels. There existed a desire for change, but individuals seemed petrified
to follow through with the brand of action and behavior that would ensure
this change. Within this unstable, unhealthy setting, my career was
launched, and it rapidly ran up a ladder toward an inevitable burn-out or
demise.
Essentially, with Steele gone the following year and Hefty as a
absentee assistant, I assumed the principal's duties without conventional
management support or guidance. I operated based on the misguided faith
that the limited district and site organizational support influential players
within political and educational structures would remain honest and
forgiving as well as professional and informative. Although this statement
has a tone of victimization, it is important to use this scenario as a strong
example of how novice teachers and administrators are frequently placed in
particularly challenging situations and therefore set up as opposed to
nurtured and mentored. In my opinion, the educational arena would benefit
greatly from the development of more supportive systems to induct new
people into the system. I am certain other organizations share this dynamic
and need. A mentoring induction would be representative of an ethical
organization engaging in a strong primary dialogue supporting humanity
48


and care.
Despite potential obstacles, my first year as principal was
tremendously successful according to documented and verbal feedback
from students, staff, and community. Amazing strides resulted with the
transformation of a culture in which renewed empowerment, creativity, risk-
taking, and self-evaluation began to take hold. The school implemented an
impressive collaborative accountability process based on researched
Collaborative Decision Making models called the Shared Leadership Circle.
New forums and communication formats were developed, including evening
parent forums, newsletters, new improved team-meeting dynamics, support-
group structures for adults and children, unique and focused staff
development opportunities, retreats, learning organization strategies, and
expanded community projects. Along with the integration of this
community-empowered-governance model, the political power structure
within the school strongly shifted. Parents and students were pulled closer
to the workings of the school. People were asked to be accountable. The
examination of personal and professional potential and limitations was
expected by administration and peers. Student portfolios were introduced
to replace or supplement narrative subjective transcripts. Employee
professional portfolios were also encouraged. Staff was asked to
participate in a "rehiring" or validating process for their own jobs for the
purpose of accountability as well as validation and reinforcement. Staff was
asked to become involved in yearly peer/self evaluations. The Open
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School was challenged to become a responsive educational organization
serving a changing, diverse community, not just an alternative school of
choice for certain kids.
When Steele announced she would not return to the Open School
from her leave, I had virtually the full support of the community to become the
continuing principal.
One week before my appointment would be finalized, I was
summoned to Dr. Hefty's office. The rest became simplistic history which
could be easily defined as public assassination, validated through a hurried
process that lacked due process, professionalism, and human decency.
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Exile and Inspiration
The following is a letter I forwarded to the Open School community
during my legal battle for reinstatement. It was later utilized by the Jefferson
County School district attorneys to be offered as "evidence" of my
methodology of manipulation which could be construed as characteristic of a
sexual harasser. I include it in this thesis to begin a discussion of Martin
Luther King and my own struggles within the arena in which an individual
finds herself fighting what seems to be an indestructible authority amidst a
populace that seeks collective redemption through that individual's fight.
This letter reflects a catharsis within my process of understanding the facts
and emotions that collided during my term in Jefferson County Schools. In
writing the letter I was processing the reality that my career was lost, or at a
minimum facing extreme jeopardy. My view of myself as a compassionate
person, a feminist, one who was politically correct in thought and behavior,
as well as a capable leader was severely challenged in the form of a
formalized accusation that I was a sexual harasser. My non-renewal left me
to sit with a sense of hopelessness facing my worst fear, that / was not what I
thought I was. I spent a few days alone in a mountain cabin a distance from
the city and began a reflection that continues in some form to this day.
January 6, 1995
Friends:
My emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth in these last months have been
monumental. And now, shortly after the commencement of the new year, I wish to
51


share with you where I think I've been, where I sit at present, and where I believe I
will continue in my travels.
I recognize that my road up until now has been difficult. I am terribly
wounded by a great many things that have happened to me in my past. I feel that it is
of paramount importance that I finally face these wounds, admit them, and heal them.
Unless I do this it will be impossible for me to find peace, resolution, and any brand of
happiness and success for myself and my children. These wounds include.. .the
recent losses revolving around the Open School and my career as educator.
To be more specific my legal fight with Jefferson County and my potential
reinstatement are circumstances quite beyond my control on an important spiritual level.
I am now in the process of "letting them go" in order for me to tackle the real work
necessary for me to reclaim my self. I am not suggesting to you that I am giving up.
I will continue on some level to support my legal fight in order to express my voice and
protect myself financially, politically, professionally, and emotionally. But, I wish to
express to you now that I realize that the battle with which I am faced cannot be won in
court. It cannot be won through reinstatement. My victory can only be defined in my
personal healing process and achievement of peace and understanding of the workings
of my life.
The system I am fighting does not embrace matters of justice and relationships.
1 am painfully becoming aware of the fact that it is a system that analyzes and makes
meaning through frameworks of hierarchy, patriarchy, and dualism. I am not a being
that reflects or accepts any of these frameworks. Therefore, frankly, I am rather
unsure of what I will win, if anything, through my legal challenge. I also know that as
Martin Luther King attests, "right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. This
statement alone offers me comfort regarding the spectrum of final verdicts that may
result sometime between now and June, when the trial is scheduled. King wrote these
words from a Birmingham jail in 1963. Though I in no way attempt to present myself
as one playing the same life drama as King, nor to be one equitable to him in terms of
52


valor and presence, I continue to be drawn to his historical struggle and to be inspired
by words. He wrote,
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects
one directly affects all indirectly... nonviolent direct
action seeks to foster such a tension that a community
which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to
confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue
that it can no longer be ignored ... I am not afraid of
the word 'tension'... Just as Socrates felt that it was
necessary to create a tension in the mind so that
individuals could shake off the bondage of myths
and half-truths and rise to the realm of creative analysis
and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for
nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in
society that will help men rise from the dark depths
of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of
understanding and brotherhood.
In some manner the events that transpired last year at the Open School regarding
the staff complaint, ensuing conflict, and consequential non-renewal were necessary
evolutionary steps for the individuals and organizations involved to grow and learn.
Frequently people have thanked me for not making them "take sides" in this
nightmarish struggle. Although I did not wish consciously to "convince" or "push"
others to recognize what they already knew in their hearts, I do recognize my disdain
for those who accepted neutrality. As Dante states "the hottest places in hell are
reserved for those who, at times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality." King
states that the "moderate... is more devoted to 'order' than to justice... and prefers a
negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence
of justice." The climate at the Open School very much portrays just this sort of
struggle. I am not interested in feeding this desire for unjust order. I am not
interested in this even if it means the reinstatement of my job. No job is worth this.
There is no brand of silence and compromise to which I will agree if it keeps the truth
53


from the people who deserve it.
In the end, the issues brought to the surface are issues that existed for years;
perhaps since the conception of the school(s). Those who challenge systems and
challenge individuals, and I feel I did both, merely
bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
We bring it out in the open where it can be seen and dealt with.
Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up,
but must be opened with all its pus flowing ugliness to the
natural medicines of air and light; injustice must be exposed
with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human
conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
I believe King's words here, wholeheartedly, and see their important reflection of what
has happened and continues to happen at the Open School. It matters not who the
perceived "perpetrator" of the injustice is, but more that each of us, despite our
differences now that the boil has been spliced commit ourselves to an honest quest
to break open the dynamic that feeds the injustice and push toward inward and outward
healing. This process will feel like death and rebirth. But it is necessary. In Tibetan
Buddhism it is an act of "laziness" to fill our days with constant distracting
overindulgent acts of busyness in order to avoid the simplicity and discipline needed to
face real issues.
In the end if I broke a "law," it is an unjust law. Firstly, because it is not a
"law" equally applied to all people in the community. Secondly, because it is a law I
did not help create. And thirdly, because confronting truth and manipulation is a
necessary act. I am willing now to accept the consequences of my actions in order to
bring to light the unjust and dysfunctional aspects of the organization of which I was a
part. The way I am being treated at present is mere symptomatic of thersystem's
general treatment of humanity including staff, parents, and especially children.
This cathartic reflective process expressed through the letter
54


underscored my desire for a continued development of justice and
enlightened responses within our society; but it also became equally
important for me to expand the definition of my professional and legal quest
to incorporate a process toward personal and inward growth, as well.
I hoped to discourage the development of community expectations
dependent upon the hope that my actions would lead to sweeping
organizational change. I was in the process of understanding the evolution
of my political role within a community cultivating agendas that I could never
begin to incorporate into my own. There were no true champions for me in
my quest for justice, despite the fact that many community members saw my
fight as partly their own. These sideline observers believed in me and what I
was trying to do, however, the rudiment of their support was linked to the
hope that my fight would cure the ills of their community while their personal
lives would be spared real sacrifice. My fight became one framed through
individual lenses and agendas. For example, the fight could be used to
actually change the Open School and make it a better place, it could justify
an individuals specific involvement in such an organization and let them off
the hook" for years of participation in this system, it could reassure
individuals that the world in which we live is a safe and just place where
people are treated well, or it could be a fight that simply shows that in the
end the good guys always win. In the end, my fight was a fight staged in
isolation involving a lone player seeking personal justice; a struggle for one
woman to find an internal peace rather than external change; it was more
55


spiritual than judicial, and more solitary than communal.
King's struggle, one with far more historic significance than mine, was
also one that was fought from a lonely perch. He was challenged not only
by his oppressors, the white individuals and systems of wealth and privilege,
but, ironically and painfully, by his own Black peers. King was criticized by
other Black political players who sought a more cooperative approach or
method of negotiation with the white establishment. This approach, they
felt, would help gain greater political ground whereas Kings march (without
permit) only resulted in increased friction, legal charges, and jail time.
While Kings resistance could be perceived at the time as an act leading to a
set-back for the Black movement, undoubtedly Kings contrary view was one
based on his facing a choiceless choice. When faced with injustice, King
walked his talk: one must march on in alignment with beliefs for the purpose
of defending ethics and integrity. History has shown us that strategies like
Kings may encourage political players to begin a shift in practice and belief
within a culture that may historically offer obstacles and entrenchment.
There was still another side of this coin; Kings belief in non-violent
resistance faced harsh criticism from other representatives of Black
leadership who found his tactics to be not confrontive enough, and therefore,
too slow in creating change for Black America. I believe that although King
is a hero for most of contemporary America, at the time of his incarceration in
Birmingham in 1963, he must have felt very much alone. He was isolated
56


and solitary, processing his decisions within a jail cell. There must have
been a sense that he had been placed in a position by others to be ail things
to all people, in the end, it must have felt like a set up in which he was
either too confrontive or not confrontive enough within his political agendas.
Retrospectively, one might say that the Black movement eventually
found partial relief from great oppression through the works and words of
one man. This one man, Martin Luther King, although celebrated as the
greatest leader of the Black movement, was also a martyr and eventually
sacrificed for the cause. Americans expected him to do the deeds they
could not, speak the words they could not say, and have the courage that
they could not find or afford.
Although comparing myself to Martin Luther King, a legendary man of
great historical merit, would be presumptuous at best, I feel that finding
models during a time of crisis can be a beneficial strategy. Through the
process of losing my job and facing the consequences of resistance,
ultimately I was faced with questions regarding my own sense of morality
and the integrity of an organization and community I had loved and trusted, a
strong desire to seek and maintain what was right for myself and other
human beings (lesbian or not), in addition to my overall desire to contribute
to a more just and humane world. In doing so, I felt that it was a no-win
situation.
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My struggle was external, through the utilization of the media and the
court system, as well as internal, through the quest for healing and
emotional reconciliation. This process and my undertaking (legal and
otherwise) resulted in a heroic journey, complete with its own jail cells, with
me at times feeling in the middle. There was no one to satisfy and everyone
to satisfy. Winning became an abstract concept-up for grabs.
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Some Additional Facts
Throughout the history of the Open School, staff members have had
close personal relationships which at times resulted in romantic encounters,
cohabitation, and/or marriage. Steele was married to the music teacher.
Their daughter taught in the elementary. Three married couples existed in
the high school. Two staff members met and married student teachers at
the school. One married couple exists in the elementary. Spouses of staff
substitute teach often at the school. Members of one teaching team in the
elementary are currently involved in a relationship which led to one
teacher's divorce from a twenty-year marriage. Boundaries are very grey
within the community; in fact, one might describe the community as
incestuous at best. These publicly acknowledged relationships, however,
are heterosexual.
I am a lesbian. This issue became a formidable one throughout the
investigation of the complaint against me. It was not formidable because of
honest discussion, but formidable by virtue of silence, evasion, and covert
blame and clandestine identification strategies. The staff member who
issued the complaint revealed the identities of other lesbians in the building
in order to fabricate my role as a repeat offender in the realm of sexual
harassment. She claimed that I had harassed not only her, but the other
lesbians as well. This claim of repeated harassment was not supported by
those she mentioned in her testimonies; nevertheless, great personal
59


damage resulted through her fabrications. Staff members who did not wish
their sexual orientation to be made known to the community and to the
Jefferson County administration were placed in a position in which they felt
obliged to defend themselves and me. In doing so, they confessed the
status of their personal lives and the secret of their sexuality.
A public-school probationary employee can be non-renewed for any
just cause. This cause may be found within incredibly broad parameters
including dress, tardiness, lack of resourcefulness, or misunderstanding of
role and job responsibilities. Jefferson County, in response to the staff
complaint, conducted a humiliating, oppressive investigation that terrorized
those of us who lived lives that in the past may have been routinely
shrouded in secrecy. Homosexuality is often ill-received by co-workers,
subordinates, and superiors. Colleagues, acquaintances, and even friends
can put a halt to relationships with people who finally honestly reveal
themselves as homosexual. It is simply not safe to be honest regarding
ones sexual orientation. People who live the life of a homosexual know
this. Some choose honesty, thus ignoring or incorporating the
consequences into their lives; others choose to lie and make the best of it.
The Jefferson County investigation was filled with questions regarding
behaviors that were linked to sexual orientation. This process naturally
terrorized employees who were fearful about exposure that would lead to
relationship termination and job loss. To many, the Jefferson County
investigation felt like a witch hunt.
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This rushed and biased investigation produced a written personnel
report that clearly drew no substantial conclusions but only suggested the
existence of inappropriate behaviors on my part and possibly of others on
staff. The report was distributed to school board members to review in a
closed executive session in order to support my non-renewal. What was the
purpose and motive of this investigative process? The answer lies in some
political agenda that has not yet surfaced and may never.
I began an examination of the sacred arena of public education. I
asked my colleagues: What are the values that line and support our
classrooms, school, and districts? How are these values reflected in the
thought, actions, and policies that are created and enforced? What
assumptions can be made when a school, such as the Open School, whose
principles espouse the importance of building strong relationships via
conflict mediation, global and local solutions, collaboration, flexibility, and
ultimately care and concern for the individual, ignore these values when
faced with the need to defend them through creation and implementation of
policies. This Open School community, which supposedly recognizes the
value of growth and learning as precipitates of all experiences, even those
defined as mistakes, witnessed the greatly expedited hierarchical firing of its
principal based on accusations from a staff member. What should an
ethical organization, which should foster moral courage, do faced with this
situation? How does this community respond to the potential injustice of a
process that disregards a humane perspective, honors only a narrow
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approach to a situation, and ultimately protects the perpetrators within a
dysfunctional system who ignored and conveniently discredited sacred vows
of the system?
The staff member who issued the complaint against me, whom I will
identify as J, had submitted some evidence (two years before my
employment in the district) proving to a previous assistant principal that a
student teacher in her program was sexually harassing her. This student
teacher was promptly dismissed and completed his student teaching
elsewhere. I located him after my leave was instituted. He was teaching in
a small town in New Mexico, and I asked him if he would submit a testimony
to the personnel department to aid in my reinstatement. His side of the story
was that J had actually harassed him until he finally demanded that she
leave him alone. After this, she submitted a letter he had written her which
led to his dismissal. Unfortunately, this student teacher refused to testify
because he was afraid that his involvement would hurt him in the job market.
In addition, J had admitted openly to colleagues at school functions
that she had several sexual relationships with others on staff, including a
male teammate and a female elementary teacher at another Jefferson
County School. This teacher accompanied her to school functions where
the definition of relationship was not kept hidden. She freely admitted
engaging in these relationships during school extended trips and also
62


acknowledged her desires to "seduce" selected teachers who accompanied
her on specific school excursions. It is also true that J was far from discreet
regarding her attraction toward me. She shared her intentions with other
staff members, and her behavior toward me showed obvious intention to pull
me into something beyond a conventional administrator/teacher
relationship. All of this is documented through depositions taken during the
legal process that led to Jeffcos offer for a financial settlement.
J and my relationship evolved from distant and professional to a
strong friendship to finally one that became strained and uncomfortable.
We never became involved in anything more than an uncomfortable
association in which assumed conventionalities were challenged. For
example, I did respond to her once with anger at her home. At this time it
was obvious to me that I was caught in what I perceived as strategic
manipulation and I was falling prey to emotional exploitation and potential
blackmail. My overall actions and relationship with J were probably not
within the realm of professionalism; as her supervisor in a conventional
sense, I should have distanced myself from her. I should not have discussed
with her the challenge and nature of the attraction. I should not have
accepted her gifts, cards and letters. I should not have responded in kind.
After it was obvious that I was trapped in a difficult web that was
potentially costly and painful--! spoke out. The sound of my voice finally
broke the silence and expressed to this woman who had a history of
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perpetration, that her actions had to stop. My actions were not within the
realm of sexual harassment.
To support my position, I offer the following eloquent and relevant
statement printed in the May 29,1994 editorial section of the Sunday New
York Times written by Anita Hill, a proclaimed sexual harassment victim.
.. .society must see sexual harassment for what it
is: sex discrimination that is prohibited by the civil
rights laws. It is not purely personal behavior,
nor simply natural attraction gone awry. To
discuss it in these terms trivializes the illegality
and undermines efforts to eliminate it...
employers should continue to establish and
enforce policies against harassment. This ought
to include educational programs that send a clear
message about management's seriousness and
the consequences of violating the rules... as the
Supreme Court noted just last year, sexual
harassment that creates a hostile environment
defies 'a mathematically precise test,' and calls
for examining 'all circumstances' of a case.
With regards to the potentiality of a civil rights violation, no criminal
charges were brought against me because, in my mind, it was obvious that
J's rights had not been violated. I broke no law. After I had examined
Jefferson County District policies, it also appeared that I had not violated any
policy except perhaps one pertaining to ''conflict of interest" which prohibits
actions and behaviors that jeopardize professional interests with personal
ones. My interactions with J were definitely within the parameters of Hill's
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description of personal behavior, or an attraction gone awry. Thus the
charge was one that perpetuated the helplessness of women in the work
place, one that "trivialized" the important process of eliminating real "sexual
harassment" in the work place.
With regard to the management's claimed "seriousness" of this issue,
Jefferson County Schools clearly offered little support, aside from random
staff development conferences, to educate employees, prevent undue
hardship, and protect organizations and their people from the potential
bloody aftermath of sexual harassment circumstances. No class was
offered as part of administrative training or induction into the district.
With regard to the district's offering clarity of consequence, this
component is in a pitiful state. Even during the investigation, the employee
relations investigator, when asked, informed those interviewed that
consequences for my actions could range from a letter of reprimand to a
growth plan for all staff members involved, to possible dismissal. It is
obvious that participants at all levels of this bureaucratic game are ignorant
of the parameters necessary in approaching this situation. The district
refused to consider "all circumstances" and seemed to have applied some
"mathematically precise test" to arrive at a consequence. In addition to lack
of clarity, countless examples of inconsistent responses to sexual
harassment and related "crimes" exist throughout Jefferson County Schools
and other districts. I know of a former central Jeffco administrator who
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currently serves as a high school assistant principal who was found "guilty"
of soliciting prostitutes. In this case, this man broke a law, as well as
modeled behaviors that violated many a community norm yet he remains in
the district at an impressive salary. In addition, I know of other
administrators who have had relationships with staff members in their
buildings. These employees still serve in their positions. A Jefferson
County posture of embracing discrimination is obvious based on my
situation and potentially many others. J was not found guilty of her
bisexuality because she presented herself as a heterosexual who fell from
grace, but eventually turned herself around. During Js testimony regarding
the complaint, she clearly stated that she had experienced a time when she
was vulnerable and confused about her sexuality. I was clearly the veteran
lesbian taking advantage of a poor woman who in her confusion went
astray. Later she shaped up, found a man to date, and decided it was time
to go to the district to expose my misconduct.
To further complicate this situation, J was politically aligned with two
male colleagues (one being a former lover and the other the recipient of an
informal reprimand I had issued in response to internal complaints) who all
were outspoken regarding their negative perceptions regarding my
educational philosophy and evaluation strategies. This threesome
constituted a bloc resistant to my efforts and were representative of the parts
of the power dynamic that were opposed to any change within the culture
and organization. Although these teachers invited me repeatedly on social
66


functions, when political decisions were made within the organization, they
would cluster and resist. This was the situation right from the very beginning
of my career at Open. They disagreed with the changes I had encouraged in
the school and were clear about their dislike for administrators in general.
In fact, one of these staff members bragged about how many previous
administrators he had gotten rid of. All of this soap operatic information
came out in testimonies during the investigation regarding my non-renewal.
None of it, apparently, was considered important by those making the final
decision concerning my employment with the District.
Things had quieted down for awhile until I received internal
complaints from a high-school and elementary teacher, both serving in the
capacity of TOSAs. These complaints were directed at one of the close
colleagues of J's who habitually pointed his finger in other staff members
faces and screamed at them when he felt they were asking him to do
things he did not want to do. I responded with a private and honest
discussion regarding the complaints followed by an informal written
reprimand. This staff member had a long history of enraged fits. I believe
my response, although reasonable in nature, fueled a fire that I thought had
long been out. The complaint issued against me came almost a full school
year after any negative encounter between J and me. As far as I was
concerned J's motivation was retaliatory and was politically motivated. The
accusation came shortly after the reprimand directed at her friend and just
before I was to be appointed permanent principal of the school.
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No one has the right to use sexual pressure to oppress another. No
one has the right to frighten or manipulate another by utilizing power or
position. However, when an employee has had a documented past in
which there was a free engagement in open sexual relations with
colleagues which resulted in more than one allegation leading to dismissal,
it seems that the "complaint" should have been more thoroughly
investigated. When there are a great number of extenuating circumstances,
a complaint should be placed within the context of the situation.
In the end, the sexual harassment portion of the action against me
was dropped. Ultimately, things became simply too uncomfortable and
controversial, and Jefferson County Schools merely exercised its right to
non-renew a probationary employee without due process and settled out of
court shortly before it was set to be tried before a Federal Judge. I was, by
that time, reemployed out of the district by a charter school, thus minimizing
my losses, and we all moved on.
The Open School's philosophy states appreciation and tolerance for
diversity. In addition, if one examines the exit outcomes for students
developed by the district with the intentions of their being reflected in the
workings of each site, the values of responsibility, cooperation, tolerance,
and quality are paramount. In what ways were these values a part of the
discriminatory behaviors involved in my non-renewal? What did the internal
Open School conspiracy of perpetrators expect to gain from turning in the
68


names of at least three gay staff members? How did the districts prejudicial
stance reflect its values? Overall, how were district and site intent and
values reflected in a quick and public elimination of an employee, who
through thought and action, portrayed "state of the art" educational
practices?
In addition, at this time I challenge the Open School community and
district employee relations department to revisit the depth and breadth of the
United States Constitution. Where does one draw the line of responsibility?
How, in good conscience, could the district employee relations investigator,
Peggy Schwartzkoff (who was asked to resign in 1997), pull into her office
basically innocent people, without warning, swear them to secrecy with
regard to the investigation, cross-examine them with questions regarding
events pertaining to the case as well as (when it seemed appropriate) the
status of their sexual orientation? When this process was concluded, she
then sent them back into the community to continue working and teaching in
panicked, petrified silence. All this was justified under the protected
confidentiality aspect of sexual harassment complaints. Some of those
interviewed were told that sharing information would result in legal action
and loss of job. Although it was mentioned in the final report that I had
appeared "without representation," I was informed during the investigation
that a lawyer would not be "allowed" to be a part of this "informal internal
investigation."
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Overall, the Open School is a true stepchild of the greater leviathan--
the school district. It is a small school with dismissed ideology more
tolerated by the powers-that-be than celebrated; it was a prime target for this
sort of treatment. Its often apologizing, self-deprecating mode of operation
left it wide open for oppression. It was a victim waiting for its own demise.
Historically speaking, how many Open School community members for
years watched and through their inaction supported small injustices that
eventually became supreme violations? How many community members
developed blinders as a defense and survival mechanism in order to simply
maintain their comfortable status in a dysfunctional system? The school
became "larger than life" to participants, and somehow became the only
place worth teaching and learning within because of its familiarity, history,
and uniqueness. In reality, however, it became a system that is a discredit
to itself, a system that eventually renamed its participants as victims,
including the children of the school (who lost--by their own documented
accounts--a loved teacher and administrator), who should have been
protected at all costs and served by the system.
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CHAPTER SIX
MORAL COURAGE: THE CHOICE, THE CHALLENGE
Lawrence Langer states in his collection of essays entitled Admitting
the Holocaust :
memory itself is not neutral... in the end
unlike Dante, the pilgrim of the Holocaust
must learn to mistrust all guides, whether
they lead us toward closure or not. Unlike
history, memory can be a very private
adventure... (p. 13).
According to Kennedy and Warren, history is a neutral backdrop
against which moral acts are performed. Lawrence Langer adds another
dimension to this view. He feels that memory, which is a tool with which we
interpret personal histories, is not neutral. Memory, like the will of people,
is not a neutral construct: it has a deliberation, a life, and an "adventure" of
its own.
As we consider the subject of moral acts, it is important to consider the
blindness or clear-sightedness of both history and people. Do individuals,
or the climate in which they struggle, have intrinsic ability to see truth, or is
righteousness simply defined in ones struggle to find truth and justice? In
addition, we add the piece to which Kierkegaard alludes: that time creates a
change in perception and interpretation of historical events. These
elements can act as judge and jury in analyzing events and players.
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Langer calls this changing perception of what has happened in history as
"renaming."
Langer states that people "rename" reactions to atrocity as acts of
moral courage simply to make more palatable the atrocity itself. In other
words, actors within the historical process make choices that are in some
cases "choiceless", because of the elevation of atrocity or crises. These
actions occur, defensively, in order for people simply to survive. We, as
distant interpreters of history, deem survivors as "courageous" in order to
better "swallow" what really happened.
Langer's "spin" on historical interpretation is a fascinating one.
When we talk to survivors of atrocity, particularly the Holocaust, we are
speaking to, in fact, victims who merely chose actions and behaviors within
a setting where actors behaved without conscience and humanity. These
actions and behaviors are not, by Langer's standards, courageous. They
merely exist as evidence of "choiceless choices." Courage is a concept
often used to define actions that occur in reaction to circumstances we prefer
not to examine. Placing historical choices, actions, and beliefs all within a
framework of moral courage helps us face the unfaceable.
Langer's preference is that we truly "admit" to the atrocity or to the
holocaust; that we accept historical events for what they are in reality, and
accept that certain situational behaviors that are influenced by circumstance
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as simply what they are: choiceless behaviors, not amazing acts of courage.
Langers concern is that at times historical examination glorifies situations by
utilizing a model of analysis that identifies specific acts as courageous rather
than merely survival-oriented. He feels that certain historic circumstances
that breed courage must be prevented rather than repeated for the morally
courageous to face again and again. Langer feels that the process of
admitting atrocity in order to prevent its occurrence is a process of healing.
Langer adds yet another look at moral courage, particularly when
applied to perhaps the "great crises" of which Kennedy speaks. In the end,
according to all the scholars we have considered, a person's will, and his or
her behaviors, decisions, and actions can be interpreted via the potentially
changing paradigm of moral courage. Within interpretation and
reinterpretation, and naming and renaming lie questions and issues of truth
regarding one's choice and behavior with regard to courage and morality.
Within political frameworks, the role of moral courage becomes
increasingly important as we, as a society, attempt to create a world
promoting ethics, honesty, and integrity. When all is said and done, we
come down to the question: of what importance is movement toward creating
ethical and effective organizations, if the individuals within the organizations
lack the desire to climb courageously towards that "pinnacle" regardless of
consequence?
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Langer's argument sheds a provocative light upon the case studies
outlined in this thesis. The individuals discussed herein-Dantes pilgrim,
Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Dr. Margarethe Cammermeyer, Kennedys
and Warrens political profiles, and myself-face the process and products of
chosen endeavors. Are we courageous or simply self-righteous individuals?
Did we act or react in a manner reflective of courage or were we simply
fighting the fight of a victim trying to survive. When dramatic events come to
an end and we have the luxury of hindsight--who will be responsible for
naming or renaming our historic circumstance? How will we accomplish this
process? Will we reinvent situations and reshape our understanding of
these in order to accept our roles as courageous individual, victim,
perpetrator, or misguided participant.
I agree with Langer that in order to heal ourselves as political players
who may have been caught in painful historical circumstance, we must
identify ourselves as victims of oppression and not simply heroes of
circumstance. Without acknowledging the victimization, we may be excusing
the perpetrators and glorifying fights for survival as heroic journeys. It is
important, however, to not remain caught in this dynamic of victimization.
The victim can acknowledge the victimization and still rise from this role
toward a position as a courageous individual who may not be perfect in
character and stature, but may very well be heroic in accepting the internal
and external fight for justice.
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Langers voice is an important one to consider as we define the hero
and the heroic path. Those who are deemed morally courageous may be
named and renamed throughout history as individuals exhibiting free will or
victim/survivors. The inner conscience and memory play important roles
contributing to the understanding of the choices people make.
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CHAPTER SEVEN
THE PRIMARY DIALOGUE
We may choose to celebrate the rebel within ourselves and/or within
our communities, or eradicate this entity as a perceived enemy who
threatens safety and conformity. Political players are faced with the
challenge to strengthen the character of our people as well as question our
own stamina and insight to create and recreate a world that tackles issues of
humanity, voice, and justice.
As individuals within a collective, we do not always have to agree
regarding the criteria of what is "right and what is "wrong." It would,
however, be beneficial to the ethical evolution of the community, if members
are committed at least to engage in a primary dialogue, or a continuous
discussion and examination of the foundational philosophies,
circumstances, specific events, and challenges that make up moral
dilemmas facing that community.
In order to commit themselves to primary dialogue or process of
discussion and evaluation, community members may wish to examine
definitions and perspectives regarding power and power relations. For the
purpose of this treatise, I would like to offer the postmodern process of
deconstruction as a possible favorable model for examining power relations.
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CHAPTER EIGHT
CONSIDERING VOICE AND JUSTICE IN A POSTMODERN WORLD
When we consider the avenues and frameworks of postmodern
thought, the pieces dealing with voice and justice become increasingly
salient. Voice is representative of the individual influence on all that can
"hear" this voice or are affected by its "sound. Justice and injustice, in the
context of morality and ethics, represent the influence, itself, on society and
history: the effects of thought, action, and belief. An examination of history,
culture, and philosophy involves the human struggle to exhibit power or
influence in some form in order to effect change. As individuals attempt to
make and find meaning through personal choice within external systems
that may be oppressive, individual voice and power become important
elements within a political world. The success of most political action boils
down to voice and justice; it becomes important to consider what is being
said, or screamed into the dark night, as well as the shape of the place that
receives the resounding echo of this voice.
Seyla Benhabib asks in her article Subjectivity, Historiography, and
Politics from Feminist Contentions, a Philosophical Exchange :
what mechanisms and dynamics are involved
in the developmental process through which
the human infant, a vulnerable and dependent
body, becomes a distinct self with the ability to
speak its language and the ability to participate
in the complex social processes which define its
world? (p. 109)
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In this quote Benhabib brings to light the debate involving the
motivations and conditions influencing individual choice. Are morally
courageous people individuals born with a propensity for such a role or
does the historical, cultural process, itself, create heroes through
retrospective interpretation? How do we hear the voices of the individuals
in our midst? How do these individuals create voices that can be heard and
understood?
In this same book, Linda Nicholson critiques the philosophical stands
of Benhabib with those of Judith Butler. She claims that Benhabib looks for
philosophical prerequisites to emancipatory politics. In evaluating the
options available to political players who live within a world offering many
moral alternatives, Benhabib believes that these players need to rely upon
higher-order principles to resolve moral conflicts (pp. 3-4).
Butler, on the other hand, questions claims which assert such
prerequisites (p. 6). Butler contends that Benhabib fails to see the
"plausible middle-ground position: one that allows for a plurality of
narratives, with some as possibly big and, all, of whatever size, as politically
engaged" (p. 6). Benhabib seeks justice through the quest and identification
of some greater consciousness or some foundational framework of morality
to provide meaning and direction to actions. Butler questions the existence
of such foundational assumptions and looks more to a situatedness with
regard to ethics.
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Benhabib continues in her journal article Communicative Ethics in
The Philosophical Forum (Vol. xxi, Nos. 1-1, Winter, 1989-1990), "What
about the assessment of one's action? Whereas in the case of assessing
moral duty we ask, 'In what ways is this situation morally relevant for me?'
now we are asking, 'What is it that I must do to fulfill my duty to act morally
once I have recognized it (p. 25)? She continues,
Morality is a central domain in the universe
of values that define cultures, and it is cultures
that supply the motivational patterns and symbolic
interpretations in light of which individuals think
of narrative histories, project their visions of the
good life, interpret their needs and the like. .
the moral point of view always judges the institutions
of which it is a part; and the modern individual
exercises autonomy in distancing herself from the
given interpretation of social roles, needs,
and conceptions" (p. 27).
Benhabib recognizes the power and discretion of the autonomous
individual as she grapples with moral intent and behavior. She also places
intentional choice and deliberate action within a context of the "given
interpretation" of societal/cultural construction of the time. In other words, the
player can exercise free will while making moral choices within a political
setting, but this same individual will be judged based on what is considered
to be moral for that society and that period of history. Due to this difficult
circumstance, the individual may need to make moral choices based on a
higher consciousness above and beyond the confines of her life and times.
Butler believes more in the situatedness of the moral dilemma. She
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suggests that each moral choice should be considered within its own context
and not within a definition of morality that is linked to a higher
consciousness. This postmodern debate contributes to political, historical,
and cultural definitions with regard to selfhood, voice, and justice.
This examination of the Butler/Benhabib debate is provided as an
illustration of the struggle and process involved as we consider the modern
and postmodern positioning with regard to moral action. We again are
brought back to focus on the framework of voice and justice: what is the
construct of self and selfhood, and how is this expressed and understood?
Once self is morally expressed, how do we view this expression and its
effect on culture, society, others, and the historical process? How do we
evaluate its influence, how do we judge its merit, its morality, its ethical
base? Herein lie critical pieces within the analysis of the modern and the
postmodern all entangled in voice and justice.
As we examine historical events, the case studies overviewed in this
thesis, as well as the challenges of our individual lives, we look through
lenses that reconfigure "reality." These lenses include those that pose the
possibility of a structured or formulated code of conduct or ones that provide
more situational or substantive "guidelines." As political players do we act
and express ourselves in a predetermined way, defined by pre-existing
constructs; are we born neutral actors defined by external circumstances; or
are we individuals who are shaped by a combination of that which preexists
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and co-exists in our world? Do we look to higher sources for ethical
guidance, or is moral code totally situationally determined and expressed
via any number of narratives? All these questions remain examined by a
multitude of those brave enough to ponder the clouds and inspired enough
to attempt to contain mercurial substance. Ultimately they remain
unanswered, in a world caught in a continual shifting consciousness.
The postmodern dialogue can be applied to the case studies
provided in this treatise. Historical and political players who are deemed
morally courageous may have relied upon one or more of Benhabibs
foundational definitions of what is right and what is wrong as they made
their decisions regarding their political actions. These morally-based
definitions of right and wrong may come from extrinsic and socially
constructed views or from intrinsic and more personal codes of ethics
developed from any number of sources that are as unique as the individual
(i.e. values instilled throughout childhood via parenting, specific practical or
real-life experiences, exposure to certain textual and literary influences). In
addition to this assumption that codes of ethics are influenced through inner
and/or outer influences, we can view the existence of power as an
additional influence. Power in the postmodern framework is fluid. It relies
upon the flow of events and the personalities involved. Power relations,
therefore, are reliant upon the ebb and flow of changing circumstance along
with the give and take among the political players. Morality, therefore, is
not always pre-established. A moral thought or action is connected to what
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is happening at the time, influenced by people who are involved.
Regarding Jimmy Carters ethical dilemma, Carter may have sensed
that honesty was the best approach to candidacy, even if this honesty led to
losing an election and subsequent opportunity to lead and influence society
to become more ethical. Dr. Margarethe Cammermeyer felt that honesty
with regard to revealing her sexual orientation to her military superiors was
necessary, even though it might lead to the possible loss of her right to serve
her country in a manner which she chose. Martin Luther King felt that civil
disobedience was a preferable choice to fight racial discrimination, even
though this disobedience might have led to sabotaging collaborative
political relations that were being built by Black and white groups within his
community because his actions were seen as misbehavior. The
circumstances that led to my non-renewal as a school administrator
encouraged me to refuse to cooperate with my superiors, to refuse to resign
my position, and to refuse to accept a letter of recommendation, thereby
leaving quietly. By integrating my understanding of socially constructed
morality as well as my own sense of what is right and wrong, I chose to fight
for a more authentic truth. This truth might reveal the possibility that my
actions were flawed but I remained a person who was treated wrongfully.
My choices were based on what I believed to be right" for myself with the
context of my world even though I knew it could cause an uncomfortable
upheaval for an entire community, financial expense for myself and the
school district, and potential loss of my educational career.
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One would hope that those who hold power and control in
communities, whether they be players within political organizations, military
sectors, educational administrations, and/or other governmental entities,
would seek to look beyond superficial circumstance to understand the
choices made by political players and react responsibly beyond constraints
created by policy. Impersonal and fear-based responses to actions tied to
moral choice potentially create adversarial scenarios whereby a primary
dialogue around what is right and what is wrong cannot easily occur.
Without deep personal investigation and a willingness to negotiate, political
players are left to survive within a society entrenched in either/or choices
whereby political players find themselves to be political resisters seeking
societal and personal justice through fights rather than through exploration.
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CHAPTER NINE
THE SEARCH FOR VOICE AND JUSTICE LEADS TO RESISTANCE
Resistance became a word for the fear, dislike,
hesitance most people have about turning their
entire lives upside down and watching everything
they have ever learned disintegrate into lies.
'Empowerment1 may be liberating, but it is also
a lot of hard work and new responsibility to sort
through one's life and rebuild according to one's
own values and choices (Kathy Kea, Feminist
Scholarship class, October, 1985, quoted
from Student Resistance to Liberatory Curriculum
from Getting Smart by Patti Lather).
Resistance becomes an inevitable by-product for political players like
Jimmy Carter, Dr. Margerethe Cammermeyer, and Martin Luther King, who
find and express their voice within systems that operate contrary to these
individuals' ethical assumptions. Until we develop cultures and
communities jelled through a commitment to what one might term as a
"primary dialogue, supporting identified moral codes and ethics, resistance
and rebellion spiked with moral courage will be the preferable strategy for
change and survival because at least they avoid the options of co-optation,
complicity, and acquiescence.
Philosopher Michel Foucault offers the following claim regarding the
interpretation of power:
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Discourse transmits and produces power;
it reinforces it but it also undermines and
exposes it, renders it fragile and makes it
possible to thwart it. In like manner, silence
and secrecy are a shelter for power, anchoring
its prohibitions, but they also loosen its hold
and provide for relatively obscure areas of
tolerance (Weedon, p. 111).
This observation concerning discourse is particularly relevant in its
relation to the oppositional dynamic which mandates either/or confrontations
and strategies. The oppressive force of systematic silencing and secrecy in
my own life and within the lives of others defines a power-play that excludes
negotiation, dialogue, and discourse. The force of mandated silence and
denial of voice upholds the status quo. It may also force the formation of
"obscure areas of tolerance" in the form of subculture(s). Discourse,
through education, legal challenges, and scholarly debate, on the contrary,
may shift the power framework. Foucault contends that discourse can be
"the first stage in intervening in order to initiate change" (p. 135). He
provides an intellectual as well as spiritual refuge for those seeking
"resolution" in within the dynamic of discourse.
Foucault offers a fluid approach to politics and history whereby power
is
the multiplicity of force relations immanent in
the sphere in which they operate and which
constitute their own organization; as the process
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which,through ceaseless struggles and confrontations,
transforms, strengthens, or reverses them. .
Power is a relation (p. 113).
He is an advocate for the type of discourse that reveals the
"association between the buried knowledges of erudition and those
disqualified from the hierarchy of knowledges and sciences" (Seidman, p.
42). He states that there exists "a whole set of knowledges that have been
disqualified as located low down on the hierarchy, beneath the required
level of cognition or scientificity" (Seidman, p. 41). In other words, history
has allowed for a process that has questioned thinking outside the lines,
beyond what it is that has been deemed "scientific or true" by those in the
know. Postmodern thought, therefore, can encourage the brand of
discourse that allows for knowledge once thought of as "low to grapple with
that which has been deemed more acceptable and true. This discourse
allows for negotiation, mediation, and most importantly mistakes within the
science of what is right and what is wrong.
Foucault's analysis of power outlined in Natoli and Hutcheon reveals
his belief regarding force relationship without the "privilege of law" and
assigned rights (p. 341). He challenges the more conventional paradigm
regarding power that is very oppositional and dichotomy-oriented. In
particular, Foucault analyzes how this "power," in its conventional form,
creates an oppressive situation wherein the "subject of the discourse is at
once constituted by it, and subjected to it, and she has her position as
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subject guaranteed by the 'expert' inquiring voice" (Weedon, p. 120). From
here, Foucault discusses the nature of scientific discourse and the fact that
transformational change will occur only as we challenge existing
assumptions and stop developing sweeping assumptions involving nature,
essential components of biology and psychology, fixed conclusions
regarding sexuality which support our current network of social relations.
If power relations existed in the transformational form favored by
Foucault, then Jimmy Carter, Margarethe Cammermeyer, Martin Luther King,
and I would have acted not as resisters or readers, but as true players. Our
role as a player would have been to participate in a primary dialogue, an
engaged discourse around the moral parameters, not in a manner to fight
to protect our identities, spirit, freedom, and in some cases, our very
survival.
If one applies Foucaults assumptions regarding discourse (which I
define on a practical level as an ongoing primary dialogue) to
contemporary organizations and systems, one can see the advantages in
creating more humane, more ethical places for working and learning where
the individual struggle is noticed and accepted within a discursive model
rather than a punitive or reactive one. When a primary dialogue is created
that deals with the purported original and true intents and purposes of the
system as determined by those participating in the system, and this dialogue
is nurtured and continually revisited (rituals, decision-making structures and
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processes, accountability practices, self-studies, formal and informal
assessments, community meetings) we will have less of a need to create the
brand of friction that births the sacrifice and martyrdom bred through
rebellion. In other words, the actions of both individuals and organizations
may remain more ethical or moral when foundational values as well as
belief statements are routinely revisited in such a manner whereby an
intrinsic integrity is developed and supported. If we continually ask: is this
chosen action consistent with my stated beliefs and actions-we may be able
to stop unethical behavior before it happens. Strategies can be developed
that support ethical quality control.
"Instead of framing analyses and strategies as if such binary pairs are
timeless and true, we need to ask how the dichotomous pairing of equality
and difference, itself, works" (Joan W. Scott quoted in The Postmodern Turn.
Seidman, p. 289). As we search for an ultimate morality and approach the
rights and wrongs of the world, we may wish to examine how individuals fit
into this framework. This moral quest involves the deconstruction and
redefining of certain constructs that we have historically taken for granted as
true and/or core." The process of this reexamination may become more
important than the maintenance of a conventional discourse that promotes
oppositional relationships. Visiting strategies that encourage dialogue and
negotiation may not hold well in a court of law, but may fare better within the
evolution of a society. Some societal trends show evidence that the option
of mediation as a more realistic process for resolving conflicts is becoming
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more attractive to lawyers as well as plaintiffs and defendants.
"When equality and difference are paired dichotomously, they
structure an impossible choice" (Joan W. Scott quoted in The Postmodern
Turn. Seidman, p.293). Here we see the limits of oppositional, binary
thinking. Creating an impossible choice obviously limits our growth as
thinkers and actors. Chela Sandoval adds support to this framework in
proposing "Third World Feminism" as
a new framework which will not support
repression, hatred, exploitation, and
isolation, but will be a human and beautiful
framework, created in a community, bonded
not by color, sex or class, but by love and
the common goal for the liberation of mind,
heart and spirit (p. 16).
She states that it is this radical interweaving of many feminist
positionings that reaches to deconstruct meanings and binary
presuppositions in a radical way. It is this radical approach that makes one
feel that as feminists, we also enter the realm of activist, where power enters
a forum in which oppression can be addressed by challenging old
frameworks.
Dialogue, discourse, and an aversion to binary oppositional thinking
are aligned with feminist thought and therefore are not characteristic of the
patriarchal hegemonic world we have inherited. This is perhaps why those
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whose power has been historically marginalized rely more on the strengths
of rebellion and moral courage to change systems than on negotiation and
cultures built upon compromise, healthy debate, and creative struggle.
"A Different Reality" by Caroline Whitbeck provides a true testament to
the possibilities of positive and important relationships building within the
power-play and social change:
The liberation of women's relationships and
practices requires that those practices and
relationships be so reconstituted that the skills,
sensitivities, and virtues,which make it possible
for people to contribute to one another's
development, be the primary traits developed in
everyone. This liberation is a social task, and
for this reason communities committed to this
transformation have often undertaken to separate
from those unwilling to take part in it. Faithfulness
in relationships and the advancement of liberated
practices does require that one sometimes contest
another's actions, or cause the other pain or
disappointment (p. 67-68).
This statement provides additional definition to the concept of moral
courage. As we as political scientists proceed in our consideration of the
nature of our society and our movement within it, and as we seek continuous
growth and knowledge, it remains paramount that we not abandon our quest
for liberation as well as moral and ethical thought and action.
If political systems are, in fact, reflections of societal values (e.g. with
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regard to decision-making, adopted belief systems, approaches to conflict
resolution and mediation, methods of expression), the existence of ethical
behavior (being true to one's chosen doctrine) should be considered in the
course of deconstructing social evolution. If the dynamics within political
systems discourage or obstruct the possibility of ethical behavior, then a
problematic situation exists. When individuals feel a lack of freedom,
silencing of voice, and/or imposed compromise of personal ethics, and they
find themselves "working against the grain" of a larger system, this dynamic
can be termed as "moral courage" or "resistance." Identification,
acknowledgement, and investigation of this overall power-play become
crucial, if we, as a society, wish to better understand the potential for creating
ethical foundations and a perceived consensual sense of justice for players
within any community.
Charles Erasmus writes in his utopian analysis, In Search of the
Common Good:
Through expanding commercial relationships,
the brotherhood becomes an otherhood;
strangers become quasibrothers, and
the high visibility of the small community is
replaced by the low visibility of large communities
with spatially mobile populations. Reason grows
stronger as experience and choice expand, but
the moral ecology grows weaker as visibility falls.
The war of each against all fills the vacuum left
by a weakened moral ecology, and the leviathan
or de jure order becomes necessary to strengthen
and restore the moral ecology (p. 46).
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Erasmus's discussion of the dynamic within a political and social
system when it grows to the point at which bureaucracy sets in, is quite
pertinent as we begin to examine behaviors with regard to resistance. As a
particular community grows, the existence of situational, substantive, or
humanist approaches begins to diminish. In other words, as any given
community becomes larger with an increased number of players, often
layers of power systems develop, alienating each player from the system as
a whole. The authentic connection between political layers diminishes with
the addition of each layer. For example, when an individual cries out to be
heard for any reason, this voice becomes fainter as it is filtered through
these many bureaucratic layers of governance. By the time it is heard at
the top" of the power structure, a response may result that does not
incorporate a personal understanding of a particular player or power
position. A more personal or individualized response might have existed if
there had been fewer layers that existed as filters or obstacles to clarity and
individuality.
Within a large community, for the sake of efficiency and preservation
of the machinery of a system, rational means to maintain order and control
take the place of individualized and subjective attention to each voice.
Individuals, feeling lost within the numbers and uniformity of approaches,
begin to sense this "each against all". This, perhaps, is where we find the
seeds of resistance. Increase of size and, with it, a need for control and
order are two foundational considerations when we develop a thesis
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regarding resistance and power-plays that develop in response to it. The
existence of silencing for the purpose of power maintenance is another.
Max Weber (Politics as a Vocation" from Science and Politics. p.78)
defines politics as a "means of striving to share power or striving to influence
the distribution of power either among states or among groups within states.
When one adds Weber's power theory to Erasmus' discussion of community
size, one sees a dilemma develop wherein the individual seeks stability
through power struggles in order to maintain voice and justice for him/herself
and community. For Weber this power may be shared" or part of men
dominating me (p. 78)."
Natoli and Hutcheon interpret Catherine Belsey's power theory in
Postmodern Reader:
Resistance is itself a necessarily lucid enterprise:
it reveals meanings and interests, power and subjects,
caught not within binary oppositions but with a story
of 'meanings that are always plural, subject to excess,
in process, contradictory. New sites of struggle appear:
new battles of 'conflicting interests, of heroic refusals,
of textual uncertainties' are waged. There is no desire
to practice the history of truth here (p. 446).
Belsey provides a possible stage on which we witness the drama of
power and resistance. It is not necessarily a black and white oppositional
debate; it is, rather, a more fluid interplay filled with a multitude of meanings
and pluralistic dynamics that evolve into a process that is not a win or a lose
conclusion for any player. There is an assumption here that the player
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plays an infinite game in which power is not a finite resource to be sought by
self-interested parties.
Michel Foucault's discussion of the importance of discourse (as a
means by which to examine the freeplay involved in power struggles)
becomes particularly meaningful as we examine the dynamics of resistance.
As the leviathan struggles to maintain control, individuals may be silenced.
The upholding of secrecy as an obligatory responsibility or unspoken moral
code to be undertaken by those who wish to show his/her support of the
political system becomes a very effective tool to continue the sense of
quasibrotherhood, or otherhood. This silence and secrecy, as Foucault
contends, keeps the system and power framework in place, but it also
begins to plant the seeds of each against the "all", promoting "obscure areas
of tolerance." One can see how this cultivation of secrecy contributes to the
development of subcultures and their respective movements. Individuals
can stay silent and isolated only for so long until they find others with whom
they can establish political and spiritual kinship.
Cheryl Weedon concludes her discussion of Foucault with the
statement: "It may take extreme and brave actions on the part of the agents
of challenge to achieve even small shifts in the balance of power" (p. 111).
Again we see the importance of examining the greater political system, the
discourse that begins to develop as power relationships develop, and the
individuals or subcultures actions of "courage" or "resistance" in order to
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