Dear Andre, James, and Peter (Or: Come You Masters of War)

Dear Andre Cox, Peter Farthing, and James Condon,

It has been 12 days now since my father died. Twelve days since I found his poor, broken body, sitting like Buddha, in our living room when I woke, briefly and unusually happy at the recollection of his pleasure at the previous day’s events, only to go into shock at the impossibility of what I was seeing when I emerged from my room. Twelve days since I screamed and pleaded for an hour for him to please, please wake up. Twelve days of being unable to think clearly. But I’m thinking clearly now, so please take the time to understand me and read what I have to say. Dad truly believed that he was finally going to achieve justice for his family, and that we’d all finally be able to be in a secure and happy place for once in our damned lives. I cannot and never will be able to get over what your organisation has done to him, but the only solace I take in keeping on keeping on despite the pain is that somewhere out there, he knows that I’m continuing his fight, and when he comes back to check in on us from his latest trip to Centaurus, or wherever he’s busy exploring, he can feel good about what is happening to us.

Several organisations and individuals have been in contact with you regarding reparations for the severe damage your organisation inflicted upon him and his consequent ‘psychological death’, which resulted in his lifetime of poverty and despair, and a lifetime of poverty and despair for his family. I have been told by many that your organisation has agreed in principle to reparations in conversations with such people, but not one of you has told me (or any member of my family) of such. You have made no approach to our family in furtherance of what you have been recently referring to as your “restorative justice approach” (did you lift that expression from Dad’s site – https://lewisblayse.net/about-2/ ?).

Perhaps you’ve been giving us ‘space’ to grieve?

If so, I can tell you now that I will never stop grieving for a life stolen far, far too soon. A life taken because of the accumulated toll of the disabilities your organisation ensured he had to live with. Disabilities that not only prevented him from achieving the very great heights he should have achieved, but that resulted in a miserable, deprived life, punctuated only briefly by moments of joy that in themselves were painful because they were so obviously transitory. Through your organisation’s actions and its failure over decades to make up for what it did to him, it ensured he lived a life that placed such great pressure on his health that he was taken from us far, far, far too early.

Through your organisation’s almost complete lack of concern for his welfare, it also created disabilities that meant that the family who loved my father so hopelessly and utterly deeply felt daily in our bodies and our minds the pain he endured. We will never stop feeling this pain. I especially will never forget the years I have spent crying or stunned in helpless rage at my inability to make his suffering go away, at his humiliating life of poverty, and at having to watch him fail, over and over again, to overcome the consequences of his multiple abuses. Every year, the damage has compounded, and it did so for more than 50 years. It continues to compound as his family lives on. And it continues to compound in the struggling and pain-wrecked families of your organisation’s many other victims.

I think you have no comprehension of what it really feels like to feel “disturbed.”

Do forgive my scepticism, but I have waited too long and I have lost all patience. I’d like to believe you’re giving us ‘space’, but after 12 days of silence, I am more inclined to believe that you’re just waiting for this all to blow over. I’m sure you have the very best crisis management team that money can buy. Perhaps you’re all sitting around feeling pleased with yourselves at your stellar performances over the last couple of weeks? I’ll give it to you, it was pretty good. Yeah, I also remember all too well how your reputation survived intact after the 2003 airing of ‘The Homies’ (go ‘Team Salvos’!), and I’m sure your PR company is being very reassuring right now. You may like to get a second opinion on that one, though, because I assure you that there is an ever-growing chorus of voices who know the truth, and they will continue to speak out.

I do hope you had a nice break over the Christmas / New Year period, because I predict that you’re in for a year of pretty stressful crisis management activities. Do take the time to care of yourselves. Eat well. Relax as much as possible. Maybe fit in a couple of trips to the Bahamas if you can? It’s not going to be easy. I may be just one voice, but please be assured that I will never stop agitating until my father, through his surviving family, achieves true restorative justice for what your organisation did to him and what you did to us. I almost feel sorry for you.

But I will tell you that I’m sick of listening to your sophisticated spin. From where I’m standing, and from where I’ve stood all my life, it seems to me that your reputation is all that matters to you, no matter what you say. Your reputation, after all, is your source of your staggering wealth, isn’t it? Your tremendous and carefully nurtured reputation allows you to do sweetheart deals with organisations that pay you massive sums for a little bit of your glossy, well-crafted reputation to place on their websites and advertising materials, not aware of the truth. Your reputation leads millions of kind-hearted but ignorant souls to give generously to your organisation and its ‘good works’. In your own words, you’re “one of the most trusted brands” out there. Congratulations.

Oh yes, you say now your reputation matters not a bit, and that the Salvation Army “no longer considers its reputation a priority.” Yes, you say now that you’ve just now figured out that your previous approaches were “flawed.” I know, though, that you’ve said the same old stuff before, and your organisation’s many, many victims have not forgotten that either, even if most everyone else has.

Stuff your glib statements about your new approach. From where I’m standing, I see no evidence of it being true. You know full well that your organisation was approached by our family years before the 2003 airing of ‘The Homies’, and we were ignored. You know full well that your organisation was exposed for its abuses in earlier enquiries. You know full well that you waited a very long time after ‘The Homies’ was aired to throw my father the pennies you provided to a desperate and humiliated man in no position to do anything but take the pittance you offered. You know full well that you’ve had nearly a fortnight to approach my family and deliver justice, but have failed to do so.

Andre, James, Peter, I am not going to “come forward.” You know who I am, and you know who my father was. It is for you to come to me. It is for you to come to me and tell me what my father’s life was worth. And if you can’t figure it out for yourselves, perhaps you might like to consult with some of the “incredibly large team of people” working under you? Perhaps somewhere in your organisation’s ranks there is someone who truly understands, because I really don’t think you do.

It’s not “too late” now to finally do the right thing. Give it a try. You might find it feels good.

Aletha Blayse

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17 Responses to Dear Andre, James, and Peter (Or: Come You Masters of War)

  1. Nicky Davis says:

    What a heartbreakingly beautiful post Aletha. Hard as it is to imagine no more of Lewis’ amazing writing, your own voice is as powerful and moving as his. I look forward to hearing a lot more from you.

    I love the stand you are taking and am behind you all the way.

  2. 1petermcc says:

    I have reblogged this post and recommend others do so too. (If you are using the same software as I am there is a button to click in the header)
    It’s a timely reminder that the problem has been known by the Salvos for a very long time and nothing said so far is any different to their usual response.

    Ta for the sobering reminder Aletha..

  3. 1petermcc says:

    Reblogged this on 1petermcc's Blog and commented:
    A thoughtful blog post from Lewis’s daughter, Aletha.

    She makes the excellent point that the Salvos are talking as if this is news to them when it certainly is not. Time after time they have ignored approaches from victims and different Inquiries.

    This could well be more of the same.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi there. Thanks so much for re-blogging.

      That’s what I fear too. While the Royal Commission did great work in the Salvos’ hearings, I’m worried that the public will be left with the impression that it all was ‘news’ to them. I’m also worried the public won’t understand that the Salvos ran a LOT more children’s homes than the four covered by the Commission, and that there were many, many, many more victims than my father and the witnesses who spoke. I’m also concerned that the glossy ‘People First’ response of the Salvation Army will be accepted and believed by the public. But I’m trying not to worry too much, as I feel in my heart that the tide is turning.

      Aletha

      • 1petermcc says:

        That’s what I really loved about the post. The Salvoes are running the usual snow job and I’ll bet they are thinking it will blow over when the Catholic Church get their comeuppance.

        It’s going to be hard to get permanent change from them but we owe it to the potential victims to force them to take responsibility.

        If that means crushing them financially then I’m fine with that. Those who pick up their work will be fully aware that no one gets a free pass for child abuse, and taking money off them is a sure fire way of getting them to pay attention.

  4. Karen Ellis says:

    Dear Aletha

    The Salvation Army makes millions of dollars a year from its opportunity shops. Excuse my ignorance but do you know where this money is directed? These op shops are more like traditional retail outlets with prices to match in many instances. The organisation when questioned about over pricing, states it funds all of its community programs and charity works via the donation of goods to its stores. Therefore, I assume from such a respose, that this excuses the need for pricing accountability of secondhand goods. After learning of your father’s battles with this organisation, I am wondering what other excuses does the Salvation Army have in its other operational dealings?

    • 1petermcc says:

      Interesting point Karen. The Salvos are the only charity op shop I have seen protesters picketing. They used to be a charity but engaged an Economic Rationalist who bumped up the prices because his focus was on value not on need.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Dear Karen,
      I don’t know much about this. A starting point might be their official statements and websites.
      The Salvation Army also receives significant government funding.
      Kind regards,
      Aletha

    • lewisblayse says:

      Hi Karen. No, I don’t know the answer to that question. I am hoping that the Royal Commission, when it meets on the 24th of March (Case Study 10: http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/public-hearings/case-study-10march-2014/), makes inquiries into the sources of and direction of their wealth, because I’d be willing to bet that the Salvation Army is going to ‘cry poor’ as an excuse for why it hasn’t done better for victims such as my father and our family. I wouldn’t also be at all surprised if they were to pull out the “if we were to make larger payouts to victims, other people would suffer” line too, an approach that I call the “shut up or the kid gets it” response. So it’s vitally important that the Royal Commission does demand documents about their wealth and how they distribute funds received from governments, from their business enterprises, and from public donations.

      Incidentally, the Salvation Army has other lucrative businesses too. If you look at the Salvation Army posts (go to the site directory), you’ll learn more about these – Dad had started writing about these enterprises.

  5. Joseph Mitchell says:

    To the family I send my LOVE. Joe the “victim”

  6. Clive Bond says:

    Go Aletha. We have lost a brave intelligent fighter. Another has stepped forward.

    • lewisblayse says:

      Thanks for the message of support, Clive. I just wish I had Dad by my side again. But I had 38 years to learn from him, and I’m doing my best to follow his principles and philosophy.

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