CNN’s documentary/infomercial “Enlighten Us: the Rise and Fall of James Arthur Ray” gives Ray a forum to explain what HE has suffered and learned from this tragedy, namely that HE can rise above adversity, unfairness, and victimization.
I would like to share what WE have learned from this tragedy:
George and I have learned that the death of a child is a loss unlike no other. The devastation experienced for an untimely death leaves a parent always questioning their part in not protecting their child or preventing what happened. There is a bitter/sweet awareness for all subsequent life events. While being excited or happy, one constantly longs for the missing person to be present. The loss threatens to overwhelm a parent in sadness, grief, and depression. Struggling to conquer those crushing emotions challenges everyday living and one’s ability to feel compassion for others, gratitude, peace, and happiness.
We have learned that rising above those emotions is a daily choice to live with purpose, passion, and joy. It requires an acceptance of life as it is and a willingness to not have the answer to, “why?”. Rather than an explanation, we must decide how we want to respond.
We have learned that a traumatic, criminal and public death brings additional challenges. One does not enter a court of justice but a court of law where the truth can be easily obfuscated by the exploitation of laws intended to protect an innocent defendant. These laws can be manipulated to confuse, rather than uncover truth or justice for the victim. Personal privacy is invaded. While many individual reporters have been compassionate and respectful, the media can be quite capricious and sometimes untrustworthy.
We have learned that we have a responsibility to share Kirby’s story with others, to warn them of the dangers in this unregulated self-help industry. It never occurred to us that an expensive, weeklong event would not have a risk management plan or physical protections to minimize any risks participants were willing to take. Mr. Ray said this was like a marathon but a marathon event has water stations and a medical tent available in case of injury. Ray ran away from his dead and traumatized customers, allowing his injured participants to go, unidentified, to the local hospitals.
We have learned that this problem is much bigger than James Ray. And the solution is much bigger than us. However, we will continue to do our part to raise the questions, asking consumers to be more aware. We will continue to ask providers to practice in an ethical and safe manner. And we will continue to explore ways to bring greater safety to people’s personal growth journeys.
We have learned that we have a responsibility to share what we now know about this industry. This was not an isolated incident. People have been scammed, shamed, harmed emotionally, financially and physically without proper recourse for their losses. Victims do not come forward due to embarrassment, guilt, shame. We have heard that some victims when they complain are silenced and told this was their personal failure or are “paid off” if legal action is threatened.
We refuse to live with un-forgiveness, anger, or thoughts of revenge; all those corrosive emotions would poison us and claim us as additional “victims” of this crime. Instead, we pray for right purpose, wisdom, love and peace to guide our daily actions as we respond to this life-changing event in our lives. We will live with Kirby’s passion for life, with joy for the many blessings in our family, and with a firm resolve to make a difference.
Ginny and George Brown