Monday, January 18, 2016

Martin Luther King Day

2016,  MLK Day—I’m reading the classic book, Jesus and the Disinherited by the brilliant black theologian Howard Thurman whose work influenced King.  It reminded me of my blog of 11/27/14, ‘Ferguson’s Accomplishment’.  In it I stated the Ferguson event “desecrated the memory of MLK, a true black hero honored by all people regardless of race.  He emerged from a society much more deeply steeped in prejudice, yet he brought non-violent pressure to right the injustice of segregation.”

I stand by my statement that the Ferguson’s riots dishonor his memory.  It was clear that MLK stood on the side of a just cause; blacks were innocent victims of institutional prejudice, yet he led peaceful protests and the million-man-march never resorting to violence and brought about the desired change.  With Ferguson 'the right’ is less clear; there is blame on both sides . . . are the police ‘trigger happy’ when it comes to black youth?  I think it is clear that is true—yet that is not the only consideration . . . the function of a police force is to maintain order in society; their effectiveness requires that society respect and support their authority.  Over the past few decades a ferment of anger, disrespect and hatred grew among black youths against police.  That hatred was echoed in the rap-music of insults and calls to oppose police . . . ‘kill the pigs’.  The police, when their authority is not respected or supported, tighten their reactions against perceived violations.

I thought I understood the duel nature and shared blame for the violence in Ferguson but Thurman helped give me deeper understand of the disinherited people’s anger, he explained the why and how of it—I quote his book:
            Pg. 69:  “Hatred in the mind and spirit of the disinherited, is born out of great bitterness—a bitterness that is made possible by sustained resentment.”
            Pg. 70:  “your hatred gives you a sense of significance which you fling defiantly in the teeth of their estimate of you.”
            Pg. 72: “thus hatred becomes a device of which an individual seeks to protect himself against moral disintegration.” (the devaluation he sees in the eyes of the strong).
            Pg. 74:  “Every expression of intolerance, every attitude of meanness, every statute that limits and degrades, give further justification for life-negation on the part of the weak toward the strong.”

Thurman gives insight to the genesis of the anger and hatred that is found among the disinherited—but sees its true nature beyond the violence it births—
            Pg. 76:  “hatred destroys finally the core of the life of the hater.”

Martin Luther King heard Thurman’s message and understood its truth.  He refused to accept disinheritance and used the strength of truth and justice to wage his fight, winning the ear and respect of all who value justice.

We are still seeking the way to co-exist.  There are two roads to the future;    
--will we choose the way of Ferguson through hatred and violence?
--Or Thurman’s and King’s way through peaceful insistence upon what is right and just?

Saturday, January 9, 2016


[The author of the Christmas poem in my last blog is Ian Oliver and the poem is in the book, We Ask Your Blessings: 100 Prayers edited by Donald Shockley.  I did not find a way to contact Ian Oliver.]

Today I grab a page from my journal of a few days ago:
                                                                          _ _ _

There is ‘something’ that gave rise to the Universe and Life.  We had come to call it God.  There were many ways to say God’s name, but whatever name was used, people were identifying the Creator of Life and the Universe.

Creator of the Universe?? . . . that is beyond our ability to grasp! . . . so we constructed images and/or ideas of what we thought God might be in order to try to give us understanding—but all our ideas led to false images because God IS beyond our understanding.  For thousands of years we have struggled with the concept of God, nailing him down tighter and tighter while arguing with, or denying, or warring with those whose images and ideas were different from our own.  Since the beginning of conscious thought we humans kept seeking the source of our being—until the modern era when we made such giant strides in Science and leaps in technology that we developed the arrogance to believe Our Intelligence is supreme—so there is no need for a god.  Little by little we eliminated the search for who or what God is and now believe we can do without ‘a god’ (God).  But without a Center to operate from we are gradually destroying the structures we built to guide us to sustainability in a chaotic fragmented understanding (or lack there of) of who and what we are.  We enthroned our selfhood, liberated our inhibitions, took restraint off our aggressions and so are destroying the civilization that was thousands of years in the making . . . instead of working to correct the flaws in our institutions the attitude is to rebel against them with protests loud and long to get what ‘we’ (our little group) wants because we’ve come to feel entitled to have our every need met with no consideration to ‘the All’ (the Greater Good) and the future.

Whoever/whatever ‘a god’ is, we need the values God represents to point the way to how we can live together on this tiny planet in this vast universe.