A few months ago, during my time working with AAWA, I wrote an “open offer” on behalf of that organization that still features on their official website.
The purpose of the offer was to let members of the Governing Body know that, if they chose to meet with us, they could expect a “calm and respectful tone” to any meeting.
Not long after AAWA was launched, I was reminded by one person of how unlikely it was that such an offer would ever be accepted. In reply, I told that person that there was nothing to be lost in trying, and it at least told the outside world that AAWA was willing to take the initiative in helping the organization resolve its issues rather than simply criticizing them.
Since then I have left AAWA and, to my knowledge, no response to the open offer has been forthcoming from the Governing Body. What’s more, even in that brief period, Watchtower’s situation has worsened. Lawyer Irwin Zalkin has launched his third child abuse lawsuit against the organization, and he has told reporters that he has at least ten cases at various stages. The Candace Conti appeal also remains in progress, and I am led to believe it isn’t looking good for Watchtower’s legal team.
Within a couple of years Watchtower could conceivably be in a position where they are hemorrhaging legal payouts at an unsustainable rate. Despite this potential cataclysm, there is no sign of any substantial changes to their child abuse policies that would genuinely protect children and silence their critics.
It would therefore make sense for Watchtower to be making tentative steps towards establishing a dialogue with those like myself and others who are willing to help guide the organization towards a state where it is no longer harming people in multiple ways and causing so much controversy.
For this reason I am once again extending the open offer I first made with AAWA. Only this time, there is a difference. I am not only interested in speaking with the Governing Body. I am interested in speaking with ANY brother or sister who works at Watchtower’s facilities in New York, whether at Patterson, Wallkill, Brooklyn, or (in future) at Warwick.
Before I go any further, I would just like to make it absolutely clear that my aim is not to conspire to cause any legal or financial harm to the organization, or to cause any criminal damage. If anything, my proposals would benefit Watchtower by working towards eliminating any justifiable criticism. They offer the potential of helping the organization survive the 21st Century in one piece – something which presently is looking increasingly unlikely.
My intentions are solely to help guide decision-makers into better understanding the concerns of many hundreds of Witnesses, as expressed through our global survey.
Ultimately it is in the interests of everyone, from so-called “apostates” to Governing Body members, for Watchtower to be in a position where it is doing only good, and no harm to anyone anymore. And yes, I believe that with just a few modifications in a few key but non-essential doctrinal and procedural areas, Watchtower can realistically achieve this objective.
Yes, I am an outspoken critic of the organization, and I will remain so for as long as nobody on the inside is making any effort to open a dialogue and listen to the concerns of others. Despite this, I am willing to make sacrifices and act as a go-between if I can see a readiness to listen. And it cannot be said of every Watchtower activist that they are willing to calmly correspond with bethel workers or those at senior levels in the organization without immediately trying to exploit the situation to their advantage.
I should point out that I am not trying or presuming to speak on behalf of the entire online JW community. Yes, I am in contact with a number of people who run other JW websites, but I am just one voice in a large crowd of people calling for change. There are many in the community (some running websites, some not) who have been doing this for much longer than me, and who are far more knowledgeable and experienced than I am. I realize this and I would be delighted if every JW website could extend the offer I am now making, or one similar to it.
I don’t believe it is overly important WHO opens a dialogue with the organization – merely that a dialogue is opened so that the harm being caused can be brought to an end sooner rather than later. This is my chief and overriding concern, and my motive for throwing my hat in the ring and reaching out to the organization in this rather unorthodox way.
If any bethel worker responds to my offer, I can assure him or her that I will not divulge any information or leak any details without their express agreement.
Any email correspondence will be carried out in the strictest confidence and with utmost concern for the person’s privacy and predicament.
True, it may take a while to establish a level of trust on both sides, but I am willing to take those first tentative steps if someone on the inside is similarly willing.
There are probably some reading this, barely containing their laughter, who are saying, “surely you don’t expect anyone at Watchtower to even read this offer, let alone respond to it.”
Well you might be surprised to know that bethel workers have visited JWsurvey as recently as June this year (which was the last time I checked). At that time I did a brief search of my web stats and discovered that I had been visited by the “Watchtower Bible And Tract Society Of New York.” Someone in Watchtower apparently took an interest in my article on the JW.org store.
It is therefore not unreasonable to suggest that bethel workers check up on JWsurvey from time to time. When they do, I want them to know that this offer exists and that I am ready and eager to open a line of communication with them without placing them at any risk. It certainly costs me nothing to offer the hand of friendship, and the potential gains could be unimaginable.