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The Alienated Parent

"Is Everybody OK?"

By C. Rommial ButlerPublished 2 years ago 5 min read

We have not given our hearts in vain

If they have grown in the act of loving;

But how do we explain the pain,

The fighting, pushing, and shoving

Over imaginary lines, bloated fines

Malignant people with malicious designs?


The hero does not always save the day,

But what makes a hero?

They tried anyway.


If only one person saw

And they were inspired

To fight an unjust law

Until they were too tired;

But others take heed

To stand in their place

And relive their deed

And limitless grace...


Doesn't that make the world a better place?

***** * *****

This poem was inspired by the many people I met who had endured the abattoir that is the family court/child services system. Not all of them made it out alive, and I don't think any of us make it out unscathed or unscarred.

During my time advocating for alienated parents—from 2013 to 2016, roughly—I encountered no shortage of bigotry, and I encountered it on all sides. The radical feminist or liberal progressive turns out to be no less judgmental, nor any more empathetic to the plight of those outside their sphere of political influence than does the evangelical Christian, militant Muslim or conservative pundit that clings to the old patriarchal constructs, or any other such devotee of a particular ideology.

Family Law is an industry. Despite the claims of the court and social service systems to be concerned with the best interests of children, they are instead moving parts in an elaborate machine that makes billions of dollars off other people’s misery. I do not think this a brash generalization or oversimplification. My direct experience, long observation and deep research on the matter unveiled this to me, and I can no longer unsee it or pretend it is not the case. Many, however, are blissfully unaware, especially if they have used this malicious contraption for personal gain or self-aggrandizement. They would have every reason to dissociate in favor of the belief in their own moral superiority.

This system is largely weaponized against men, but I interacted with more than a few women who had the tables turned on them. At the end of the day, there is no gender bias written into the law, and the states just want to keep the Title IV incentive money and the lawyer fees flowing into their coffers. Much like people who will ignore the signs of a rapist priest or a crooked, cutthroat politician when it conflicts with their belief in the religion or the party, those who work within and benefit from the system of Family Law are no different. Such is the way with all systems, wouldn’t you agree?

Or do you suppose that your ideology is an exception? You might want to think that through…

Nevertheless, there always remain, within and without respective systems, people who seek to make real change, and I do not wish to be guilty of condemning everyone equally with too broad a brush. If you feel unfairly criticized by my diatribe, please know I feel no ill will. These are observations, not moral judgments. I wish to stimulate critical thinking and open inquiry, not arguments and censorship.

Enter the last great social justice upheaval, the 1960s. Robert Kennedy was just a man, but he tried to step up from his position of influence to do better by his fellow citizens. Perhaps following his brother John’s iconic declaration:

“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Where is the fine line between our responsibility to others and our responsibility to ourselves? From where I’m standing, I don’t see a line at all.

I see a choice.

This may seem incompatible with some of my previous points. For instance, in Carrot on a Stick, I make the point that we live in a society without masters so long as we refuse to be masters of our selves. In CULTure War, I revive in my own heart the cynical philosophy of Diogenes of Sinope, refusing to participate in the popularity contest that disguises itself as either social justice or patriotism.

Yet in Learned Helplessness, I talk of putting one’s best foot forward.

I must seem nothing more than a mass of contradictions to idling passers-by. But the focus of my life’s work may best be summarized in these lines from my essay Wonder:

“…if we only capitulate to protect ourselves from the wrath of our culture, we are not free, and a culture that pours its wrath upon us for not following social convention or moral tradition is no more free than we are. Indeed, we must question whether culture, at a certain critical mass, can ever be free.”

Which brings me back to the Kennedys. Both John and Robert were assassinated. It is of no relevance to my purposes here whether the official account or any of the numerous conspiracy theories are true. It’s also of no import as to what kind of men they were when they weren’t taking their stand, out in the open, on the public stage, making themselves vulnerable to the masses.

What’s important here is that they took the stand, and they were punished for it, whether by circumstance or Machiavellian machination. What’s important is that their stand was no less meaningful even if they ultimately fell. What’s important is that they chose to take that stand. They were not compelled by forces beyond their control. What’s important for each and every one of us is the question: what have I chosen?

Robert Kennedy was shot in a hotel kitchen. The busboy, Juan Romero, who was shaking Kennedy's hand at the time, had this to say:

"I remember extending my hand as far as I could, and then I remember him shaking my hand, and as he let go, somebody shot him. I kneeled down to him, and I could see his lips moving, so I put my ear next to his lips and I heard him say, 'Is everybody OK?' I said, 'Yes, everybody's OK.' I put my hand between the cold concrete and his head just to make him comfortable. I could feel a steady stream of blood coming through my fingers. I remember I had a rosary in my shirt pocket, and I took it out, thinking that he would need it a lot more than me.”

Imagine that. The man who had just been shot said, “Is everybody OK?”

No. No is the eternal answer. Everybody is not okay; but if we can still stand where Mr. Kennedy and so many others cannot, then shouldn't we? I think my legs are too weak right now, but maybe you can stand in my place until I regain my strength.

"Is everybody OK?"


About the Creator

C. Rommial Butler

C. Rommial Butler is a writer, musician and philosopher from Indianapolis, IN. His works can be found online through multiple streaming services and booksellers.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (2)

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  • KJ Aartila6 months ago

    This is eye-opening and kinda like a "duh!" moment for me at the same time regarding CPS and the justice system - I have had some interaction myself, though indirectly - Anyway, though -- good point - responsibility is a choice.

  • This was a very interesting read

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