The price you asked for that kiss was my soul.
Heart jumped in the deep and flowed alongside soul,
Advising, ‘Close the deal. The price is cheap,’ (Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi, Edited by Badiozzaman Forouzanfar, 1988)."
A love poem? Sadly, no, and yes at the same time. Years ago I fell in love with the vision of ADF, as seen by its founder Isaac Bonewits. The things that man wished for our people... well they were everything I wanted for our people too. And I fell instantly in love with everything I thought ADF stood for.
"My heart wanted only a kiss from you;
The price you asked for that kiss was my soul..."
Sadly, I've found that the organization as it is today isn't really moving toward those goals with any concrete plan or intent. It makes my heart heavy to know this and in many ways my time in leadership made me feel like I'd made a "deal with the devil" of sorts.
Here I was expecting to do all kinds of things to advance Isaac's vision, and I was sorely disappointed to find that the majority of our time was spent dealing with member complaints against one another, dealing with minor policies that should be dealt with (in my estimation) by the various department heads in charge of those things, and arguments between MG members over who had a better idea about how to make this or that work better.
It honestly appalled and repelled me. As a former military person, I have always been mission-driven. I just didn't see the point of egos getting in the way of what was just and right for the folk of ADF or the organization as a whole. I was still in love with the org and wanted it to flourish but as time went on I came to equate the org with its leaders more and more and with its members and Isaac's visions less and less.
I fell out of love with ADF, I blamed ADF for what felt like, well, frankly an abusive relationship. I'd given hours a day for years of my life to the organization, spend thousands of my own money that was not ever fully compensated, flown all over the world, driven in snow, ice, rain, cramped vehicles, taken stuffy foreign trains, road on buses, spent countless hours at my computer writing notes to members, teaching weekly classes for three years straight, assisted in writing study programs, wrote reference materials and articles, all this for ADF and been completed all three circles of the Clergy program so I could serve ADF and her folk.
But now, I found that my experience, knowledge, training, and education was not of any value to the members of the MG. I was expected to keep quiet and keep the status quo. My suggestions and ideas were not met with the enthusiasm I held.
Naturally, I understand the reason why, in hindsight. Established group members often close ranks when a new member suggests doing something new. They fear it means that they are being told the old way was wrong. The problem is, the entire MG is mostly made up of established members, so the group dynamic is such that no new member will ever get their ideas heard.
This is why having a Clergy only MG is a BAD idea. The CC is a close-knit group. Close-knit groups are prone to group-think. Group-think leads to all kinds of bad decision making. If the bylaws allowed for a majority of the MG to be non-CC members, then we'd have fresh blood on the MG, more diversity and less group-think. That's a good thing.
More diversity in groups promotes more variety of solutions to problems, more new ideas, and more forward progress in groups. Overall, a GOOD thing for any group.
Now, I'm not saying that I don't still love ADF. I do, I love it from afar. I love ADF's potential, I love what ADF stands for, I love what it could one day be. Now its up to YOU to make it happen.