John Murtari


The power of belief and talk is cheap. Both are true, but it’s tough when our beliefs, especially about family and friends, are challenged by cold reality. It’s a savage bite and leaves a wound that’s hard to heal.

Happened to me over 25 years ago.

Let me share an experience that helps me appreciate the Christmas season. My column’s bio says I’ve been arrested 45 times. Ever wonder about that? I spent time in jail for almost all those arrests. I didn’t pay bail, so sometimes I was in jail a day or several weeks. Never found guilty in local courts, but I was convicted a few times in federal court. What about?

Visit www.AKidsRight.Org and watch an arrest in a YouTube video. It shows what I did: well-dressed, quiet, and polite. But why?

Some protests on TV have better instant gratification: You get to yell, maybe break things, or even hurt someone you think has treated you badly. Kick and scream if they arrest you. It works off frustration, even if it doesn’t make a positive difference.

I loved being a parent to my son, Domenic, but went through an awful divorce. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed how we were treated in court. How easy it was to make me a visitor in his life. Many have had similar experiences through divorce, separation, or involvement of social services. It takes a large bite from parents and children.

Dom and I were lucky. Our relationship survived, where so many don’t. I wanted to call public attention to the need for reform. The method was NonViolent Action as demonstrated by Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Jesus of Nazareth. With Christmas coming, I’ll focus on Jesus.

The man of actual history. The Son of God — I can’t confirm that. Rose from the dead — I wasn’t there for that, either. They are personal beliefs. The Apostles’ Creed begins with “I believe,” not “I know.” So why bring him up?

A friend wrote during one of my jail stays. He asked why I should accept discomfort and why I thought it’d matter? Jail gives you time to think. Is it worth it? Keep going?

Trending Food Videos

Here’s why I could, and also avoid a descent into self-pity and anger: The historical Jesus believed with every fabric of his being that life is eternal, God is our loving father, and we’re all brothers and sisters. He didn’t go kicking and screaming to crucifixion. He demonstrated the strength of his talk.

Knowing this lets me share his beliefs. I approach Christmas with great appreciation.

Life’s not fair or predictable. It’s special. As a programmer, I don’t want to live in a machine.

Did my arrests start a reform movement? No. But they had an amazing effect on me and some folks I encountered. The effort helped heal my wound and avoid a descent into bitterness. Thanks to the baby born in a barn!

Honestly, I didn’t meet any bad people, although I didn’t always like what they said or did. Sometimes we all act with false info, emotion, or carelessness and hurt others. He knew that. Don’t judge. Turn around and take a fresh look at yourself and them.

I’m astounded how new social justice protests seem to encourage revenge, bitterness, and anger. I recall the “Peace & Love” themes of anti-war demonstrations in the ’60s. Can you believe songs mentioning Jesus Christ were at the top of the rock charts? Yes, we’ve been disappointed by religious institutions and their leadership.

As Christmas nears, let’s get back to the original messenger and message: Let’s believe again.

I’ll close with some old rock lyrics, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love — that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of … ” It helps heal the wounds.

Have a Merry Christmas!

John Murtari of Lyons is the son of Italian immigrants. He is an Air Force Academy graduate and former pilot. He earned a master’s degree in computer science and always worked in that field. He’s done volunteer work for the elderly and homeless and considers himself an idealist. He’s been arrested and jailed over 45 times in peaceful demonstrations for reform. Contact him at