Gola Wolf Richards: B.A., Human Development Psychology,
M.A., Theology; Philosophy and Psychology of Consciousness and Change
-Robert E. Lane, Prof. Emeritus of Political Science, Yale University: “I have known Wolf Richards for many years and have always been impressed by his skill and wisdom in interpersonal relations. He has an intuitive understanding of other people’s feelings and of their efforts to cope with the problems that confront them. In my opinion Mr. Richards’ grasp of Confucian principles will give depth to his approach to conflict resolution. He is an excellent speaker and a fine person.”
-Dear Friends: If my competencies for conflict-resolution are suggested in a metaphor, the fruit to be harvested from my branch of the tree of life began in 1946; when I was born into chaotic circumstances, generated by intense emotional flux in my father’s personality. As a Christian minister, his faith involved worshipping high ethical and moral ideals; yet, as an unhealed victim of gross child abuse, in contrast to my mother’s godly character, my father’s inability to enact his ideals persisted. Based on mama’s spiritual strengths then, I learned to survive how my father’s spiritual deficits invited hell to spread through every room, in every parsonage that we called home. Before she ever met my father and everyday thereafter, mama was stalked by unwarranted hostility. Nonetheless, her gift for moral genius never failed; despite being a captive of brutal domination. Starting with what I learned from that background, over the course of many years, references to highlights in my career are as follows:
-H. Steven Coopchik: “I became particularly aware of the value of Wolf’s philosophy when I was the Director of Personnel of the Division of Special Education of the New York City Board of Education. At that time (1983-1987) the Division employed 20,000 staff (10,000 of whom were teachers) serving 114,000 students. The stress the other major managers and I experienced, often on a daily basis, was sometimes nearly unbearable. However, I was able not only to survive, but to succeed by any measure, with the support I experienced from Wolf’s philosophic precepts.”
-Arthur Sirianni: “As co-workers over a period of seven years, my professional relationship to Wolf began in 1972, at The League School for Seriously Disturbed Children, in Brooklyn, N.Y. At that time, The League School was NYC’s primer therapeutic institute for treatment, research and professional training for educating affected children and their families. Inasmuch as our school was designated by the federal government as the top school for therapeutic education in America, we were awarded five million dollars to train graduate students from schools such as Columbia University, New York University, and other outstanding facilities throughout the nation. By means of our national training program, Wolf’s work with the Spurwink School in Maine capitalized on his competencies with children from early childhood through adolescence.”
-In my work as a counselor, author, and educator, my background includes having been radio host for “Speaking for Virtue” at the University of Southern Maine; with lectures given for Global Conflict-Resolution at www.TEDxDirigo.com, Dartmouth College’s Novela Symposium, Duke University’s Graduate School for Environmental Engineering, Maine’s C.G. Jung Center, the University of Montana in Missoula, the University of Maine’s first International Peace Conference, and the faculty of “Religion and the Challenge of America”; where the honorary co-chairs were Senator George Mitchell, and Harold Pachios, Esq., former Chair of the US Advisory Commission for Public Diplomacy.
-In the roots to my orientations to conflict and conflict-resolution: My father was a big and strong man; and in contrast, my mother was small and physically weak. On one occasion as a little boy, consequent to mama being accused by my father of having purchased the wrong size eggs, I screamed as I witnessed him hurling her through the air to land on a concrete floor; where he then straddled her body, held her by the neck, and choked her while pounding her head with his massive fist, so as to beat her to death. I was no more than four years old. Screaming “daddy, don’t kill my mama”, I immediately jumped on his back and wrapped my little arms around his neck. He reacted by violently yanking me off, and threatened to kill me if I ever got in his way again. In yanking me away from his back, the fist that was hitting my mother stopped short of murder. But, as badly beaten as she would be from one occasion to another, I later learned that not only had wisdom refused to die within her, but on the contrary, it had grown; not on account of cruelty, but in spite of it. Mercifully, in 1958, daddy suffered a stroke and died; leaving my mother and us penniless, homeless, and grateful that he was gone. In 1958, after twenty-five years of “marriage”, with no relief ever by means of legal or community support, mama was finally safe and free to tell how she had been forced into a loveless union; and how he had beaten her unconscious and raped her on the first night of their “wedding”. Daddy died in 1958, and from then until mama’s death in 2001, she taught me how and why she had survived. Nowadays then, concerning every way that life is being insulted, assaulted, or otherwise subjected to confusion, my orientation to conflict-resolution is deeply indebted to how my mother kept her sanity, despite being controlled by a character-disorder man. Moreover, as derived from forty-six years of contemplating the classic “I Ching”, or “Book of Changes”, I am indebted to Yin/Yang Philosophy and Psychology of Consciousness and Change; which is the spiritual root to China’s thousands of years of civilization.
-Briefly: By means of Yin/Yang philosophy and psychology, contemplative education cultivates timely orientations to untimely experiences of conflict. Its methodology is based on individuals accessing opportunities to dialogue with an actual or virtual teacher, and/or the conceptual resources that such a teacher would have contemplators to review, discuss, and endeavor to actualize. As dialogues about Yin/Yang philosophy and psychology concentrate dynamics of sage human development, perspectives will grow to augment insights for discerning timely orientations for conflict-resolution. In the I Ching: As opposing dynamics are conceived in union, microcosmic factors in human development are related to macrocosmic dimensions of universal creation. Likewise, cause and effect factors are related to transpersonal or acausal (spiritual) potentials of change in human development. As practical dialogues for problem solving are contemplatively informed by Yin/Yang principles and concepts, our thinking begins to work in tandem with cosmic creativity; spontaneously and positively redirecting universal chaos. In similar fashion, as outlined in the I Ching: As self-cultivation by means of sage perspectives increases, social coordination increases for conflict to be acceded by conflict-resolution. This concept references Mystical Humanism; or social progress by means of synchronicity, between individual and collective dimensions of consciousness. In this sense, individuals who engage in contemplative self-cultivation co-create general tendencies to natural harmony; based on the same principles of Universal Creativity that standardly and spontaneously transform chaos, throughout the cosmos. The key idea in the I Ching is that: Becoming aligned with universal tendencies for harmony is fundamental to how individuals are naturally responsible for elevating civilization as a whole. Thereby, as individuals self-cultivate virtuous orientations to conflict, transpersonal benefits for humanity are collectively generated through synchronicity.
In the I Ching: The way we perceive change throughout the universe occurs consequent to fundamental elements of contrast, or Yin/Yang; whereby all our orientations participate in history, governed by infinite mixes of Yin/Yang relationships. Thereby, in every “this vs that” point of contrast, potentials for varying degrees of opposition or complementarity exist in every dimension of life. Therefore, by means of the character that governs our perspectives, our choices continually generate positive or negative transpersonal effects, on the world at large. In my work to mentor young and not so young people over waves of personal discord and global dissonance, I record contemplative audio to magnify tendencies to achieve ethical ideals in conflict-resolution. By listening to a story, heartwarming poetry, or one of my concisely comprehensive college-level sermons, contemplators learn that: Perception depends on universal reciprocity between positive and negative polar dispositions. Therefore, as positive and negative habits develop in how we perceive and react, conceptual customs become concentrated into conscious or unconscious habits; which promote responsible or irresponsible influences in varying arenas. Thereby, by means of the same principles of reciprocity that govern the cosmos: History at large is potential to be rescued, every time we contemplate how to lead rather than impede sustainable human relations.
As an author, I wrote and recorded an audiobook, titled The Way to See (W)hole®; which as a contemplative course in virtues, is concisely staged in a story of wise responses, to the universality of conflict. As a conceptual tool for sage approaches to problem-solving, it relies on efficiencies found in aphorisms and metaphors; deftly used to bridge diverging points of contrast.