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Post Sixty-Seven


At the Michigan Area Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church this past week my son, Carl, was presented with the Harold Stanton Peace and Justice Award for his outstanding commitment to peace and justice through his creation of Motown Mission, his compositions articulating peace making, his peace making theology, and his commitment to Detroit. It was a proud moment and a weepy moment for me wishing Terry was there to share in our joy.

In accepting the award Carl mentioned his great grandmother, Mildren Gladstone, who in the 1950's worked for justice for migrant farm workers in her position as State Director of the Michigan Migrant Ministry. He also cited my status as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War and my work with the Inter-faith Centers for Racial Justice as my alternative service. I was honored that Carl would attribute his present achievements to a family legacy of peace making. In truth that legacy is more perceived than actual. His remarks put me to thinking about the role we parents play or do not play in the direction of our adult children's lives.

Carl never knew his great grandmother when she was State Director of the Michigan Migrant Ministry. He never knew me when I took a stand against the Vietnam War. He did know his mother Terry's work with the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center and her work in conflict transformation in the United Methodist Church. However, I suspect that the legacy Carl described was less a legacy of doing and more a legacy of being. 

There are many others who have done far more than we to bring more peace into the world. There are many who sacraficed far more than we and many who have been much more on the front lines of peace making than I ever was. I certainly could have done more. However, we have been a family that over time learned to live in peace with one another and with our neighbors. We have been a resilient family through unexpected moves, job loss, terminal illness, care giving and unwelcomed new realities. We have kept the drama to a minimum, sought help when feeling overwhelmed, and embraced faith as a radical trust in God who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

Thank you, Carl, for mentioning your old Dad. You and Mary are carrying on a legacy. Please remember it is a legacy of being more than a legacy of doing.

Dave Gladstone

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Reader Comments (1)

Well said, Dad! That distinction between a legacy of being rather than doing is a helpful lens. So many people do so many good things for the world when they exist as a community that loves justice, sell kindness, etc. It's the aggregate narrative that holds the power, not the achievement list of any one member. So glad to be a part of our family legacy of being and that of those persons gathered at Annual Conference. Thanks for your words.

June 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarl

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