A JOURNEY OF CONSCIOUSNESS Imagine answering someone who inquired the whereabouts of a Dale Crowe with, "There never was a Dale Crowe." Now imagine responding that way if you were Dale Crowe. To most ears, that sentence would sound like a nonsense statement or an evasive manuever. For Dale Crowe it is neither. Dale means "valley" in Hebrew. That's fitting, because I've felt squeezed between two mountains for most of my life. After going to war with that duality for almost 40 years, I've learned that there never really was a Dale Crowe... Saying that there's no real Dale Crowe sounds like a riddle. But it's actually a truth that means a lot to me.
Dale Crowe & His Maternal Grandparents
The Bully Within: A Journey of Consciousnessis the autobiographical, play-by-play transformation of former, up-and-coming crusierweight boxer, Dale Crowe: the transformation from a bully into an enlightened man. The Bully Withinis a book about spirituality, not boxing. In it, Dale seeks to answer his own riddle. From the first page of the prologue, he paints in detailed brush strokes the deceptively benign beginnings of his volatile past:
I was born in Ohio and grew up with my mother, stepfather, and grandparents. The deaths of my grandparents and the absence of my father introduced me at an early age to issues of loss and abandonment. When I was very young, I was a class clown. But after meeting my father at age thirteen, I wanted to model myself after him, and I learned to box partly to impress him. I rose through the ranks of amateur and professional boxing, but not until my life came crashing around me did I return to the root issues of loss and abandonment and learn to deal with them. Those losses opened a chasm of loneliness. The combination of Dale's losses with his loneliness found him seeking larger and larger doses of ego-driven attention from an early age. It's the voice of Dale's ego pockmarking page after page in increasingly sinister, 10-point-font stocatto that Dale exposes to the light the gremlin that taunted him. It's the bully that began with him...
Who's gonna stay around you very long? New school soon? New friends? You better find a way to matter. What if nobody even likes you? ... and grew with him...
Everything you got is because of boxing. You don't fit into any other role. You've failed at everything else. Better get your ass back in that ring, pal, if you like what you got. You better fight to keep it. It was this bifurcation of Dale's identity, thisobjectifiction of Dale's personality, and this normalization of the voice in his head that convinced Dale from an early age that one part of him was bully and the other part was Dale Crowe.
Dale Crowe (second from the right)
While much of the book chronologically catalogues the stair-step accomplishments of Dale's boxing career (ESPN, Fox Sports, The Oprah Winfrey Show), Dale focuses on specific vignettes that were catalysts in the uncontrollable growth of his ego. By structuring the story like this, Dale allows the reader to see the bully operate from a wide angle. Dale wanted to write the kind of book that he wished he would have read as a child that would had described his internal fears against the stark relief of machismo culture. It might have made a difference. It might have diverted him from a life of violence.
Growing up, I wasn't a big reader, but I did love stories. I was mesmerized by action heroes on television and in the movies. When my life slowed down and I started looking for answers, I found new heroes - heroes who introduced me to peace and wisdom and truth in their writings. I could ask no greater honor than to lead a reader into the path I've found by honestly sharing my life in a book.
That enlightenment came four years after Dale went to prison.
ON VIOLENCE Violence takes center stage in American media. From mass shootings to murders and rapes to killings by and of law enforcement officers, we seem to hear about a new tragedy before we've had time to process the old ones.
We send out thoughts and prayers to the families of victims far too often. From Columbine to Charleston to Orlando to Dallas, the venues of shootings and the names of the killers become infamous. As a result, ordinary Americans congregate in large numbers with the understanding that anywhere can be a target: a school, a movie theater, a shopping center, a bar, or a city street.
And that's not even to mention the family violence or random violence that fails to make the headlines. According to Gun Violence Archive, as of July 17, 2016, 7,458 people have died and 15,450 people have suffered injury in 28,932 incidents. And according to theNational Coalition Against Domestic Violence, "nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States." Though mass shootings grab the headlines, the violence that occurs behind closed doors may do the greatest damage to the fabric of society. CASA reports on the link between child abuse and incarceration:
The new study draws a strong link between prior abuse and violent crime. Among male inmates in state prisons, 76 percent who were abused and 61 percent not abused had a current or past sentence for a violent offense. Among female offenders, 45 percent of the abused and 29 percent not abused had served a sentence for a violent crime.
Abuse is far from the only factor contributing to the likelihood of a violent life. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reports that "nationally, 7.3 million children have at least one parent in jail or prison. Sadly, 70 percent of these kids are doomed to follow in the same footsteps as their parents becoming imprisoned at some point in their lives".
In fact, self-control plays a major part in whether victims become perpetrators. "Self-control is key to a well-functioning life, because our brain makes us easily [susceptible] to all sorts of influences. Watching a movie showing violent acts predisposes us to act violently. Even just listening to violent rhetoric makes us more inclined to be violent. Ironically, the same mirror neurons that make us empathic make us also very vulnerable to all sorts [of] influences".
So the direction of society in great part depends on how well individuals dealing with pain and violence can control the impulse to commit violence:
Children who grow up abused, impoverished, or without a stable family structure carry a burden other children do not. It is harder for them to make positive choices and to halt the cycle of pain and violence.
It was in prison that Dale eventually was able to relate his loss and loneliness to the bully that he had become: Outside events damaged me because of how I allowed them to make me feel on the inside. As a child, that's understandable. But as an adult, it shouldn't be. These days, I choose how I will experience any given situation. My past does not define my choices. As long as I operate in truth, I am satisfied with the outcome. My inner self is pleased, though my ego might not be. Why? Love. The ego needs past and future. I can be love in the present moment. Dale's learned that his obsession with the past and future did not allow him the ease and joy of simply being in the present. This new understanding introduced Dale to a series ofkundalini events: impromptu "ego-burning" opportunities that allowed him pratical ways to further distance himself from the false chasm of "Dale Crowe the Bully" and "The Other Dale Crowe." In prison he began to look at the young men flowing through the prison doors. He wanted to show them that stoking that negative emotion would only hurt them. He wanted to tell them that they didn't need to hold on to the pain inside them and identify with it:
During my ten years in prison, I've seen a lot of bullies. I've seen men do violence to each other because they hear non-stop violence inside themselves. I try to help those who will listen to understand bullies - how to avoid suffering violence, doing violence, and allowing violence to reign within them. I know from experience that within every violent person is an inner self longing for a different life. Dale's realization of the harm caused by his inner bully impels him to share that realization with others. While his first world traces the arc from his suburban childhood through the world of professional boxing into the adjacent world of crime, violence, and drugs and into prison, Dale's second world allows him to confront his inner torment and learn to live at peace with himself, the world, and God. And he wouldn't trade anything for that world.
So there never was a Dale Crowe. There never was an other. "Dale Crowe" is an identity and a history that one part of the divine essence inhabits.That divine essence exists in unity and love, and realizing its presence importance keeps the collection of wrongs, wounds, pain, and negative emotion that belong to the "other" Dale Crowe from causing more hurt and sorrow in the world.
Now imagine living your entire life never knowing there never was a Dale Crowe. That's the predicament of the billions of people who walk this globe. That's the predicament of the inmate and the warden alike, the CEO and the employee alike, the parent and the child.