America's Gun Violence: Director's Message March 2018

Greetings MCLA Sacred Path Community,

March 2018

It’s Sunday, as I’m writing my Director’s Message, and the closing ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics will take place tonight. In the midst of the agony of defeat and the ecstasy of accomplishment associated with the games, we also witnessed olive branches extended as athletes from North and South Korea, Russia and the Ukraine united and embraced in youthful enthusiasm and fellowship fueled by good natured competition.  It gives us a glimpse into the possibilities for a world comprised of nations existing in peaceful and harmonious camaraderie. 

However, a few days following the opening ceremony we once again suffered the agony of another heart-wrenching shooting massacre, this time of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  It reignited the debate over gun control but also launched a group of teen age activists and set in motion the #NeverAgain movement. 

This past week I was riveted to the TV watching some remarkable examples of the youth of America expressing themselves with great clarity, dignity and courage.  Survivors of the mass shooting, they bore witness to the horrors of gun violence in the hands of another angry, mentally deranged male inflicting his rage on society. 

This latest incident raises many urgent questions requiring accurate answers.  Central to what’s on the table to be considered and resolved is the question of why America is the only nation that experiences this form of violence, and what needs to be done about it.

As I listened intently to the young activists, the pervasive heaviness that I’ve been feeling for the past year began to lift.  I recalled how I felt when I was in my 20’s and was an activist protesting the Vietnam War and those responsible for sending over 56,000 American youths of my generation and countless numbers of Vietnamese to their deaths. Deep in our hearts and souls we knew that it was the wrong war to fight. It was later confirmed when President Johnson realized that it was a war that we could not win and finally pulled out our troops.

This week I felt buoyed by the spirit of the young representatives of Generation Z who stood up to take a stand on behalf of what needs to change. I expressed at one of our Call to Adventure Rites of Passage Retreats many years ago that our future is in the hands of our children and we, as a nation and as a world, will go where they ultimately take us. 

"Seek out evil, wherever it is seen. Speak out against it, and give your enemy no quarter." -- the HAVAMAL

My generation, the post World War II “baby boomers”, felt that we had made a positive and lasting difference in the world on many fronts when we were young.  We were idealists but we were also activists.  Over the years we have witnessed many hard realities that have overshadowed our idealistic vision for a world that works for everyone.  Yet, this week I felt a renewed enthusiasm when I viewed the passionate pleas that punctuated the heartfelt expressions of grief expressed by a unified group of America’s youth.  Their voices rang true.  Their power was evident.  I believe in them and feel a sense of relief that our future is in their hands.

We at MCLA will continue to do what we can to support males in the world to become and be Mindful Men.  Our programs will continue to serve the cause of “bringing good men together and bringing out the best in them.”  Thank you for joining forces with us to make the world a better and safer place to live.

One of our men, Dan Stradford, sent the following to me:  "I just returned from a vacation in Norway.  I like to collect books of wisdom from the various places I travel to and came across the Hávamál, a collection of Viking proverbs from a thousand years ago. I thought you'd like this one, if you hadn't seen it already: 

"When I was young and walked alone, alone I lost my way. I felt rich when I found company.  Man delights in man."

In the spirit of brotherhood.


Stephen J. Johnson Ph.D., LMFT
Executive Director






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Dr. Stephen Johnson is founder and executive director of the Men's Center Los Angeles and leader/wayshower of the Sacred Path men's retreats for the past 30 years. He is a gifted therapist and master facilitator for the experiential journey that unfolds during his counseling sessions and workshops. Dr. J is a skilled and seasoned psychotherapist who has the sensibilities of a wisdom teacher. He provides a safe space for freedom of expression in accessing one’s pain while fostering transformation, personal expansion and spiritual growth. Click here to visit



Dr. Johnson is author of "THE SACRED PATH: THE WAY OF THE SPIRITUAL WARRIOR," an amazing how-to book for men who want to become better men . . . AND for the women who care about them.



"THE SACRED PATH MEN'S RETREATS" MCLA's Wisdom Council honored Dr. J's amazing 30 years of mindful leadership and mentorship with a special commemorative tribute film. See for yourself the incredible men's work that we do on the mountain.