LISTEN UP, AMERICA. We can no longer refuse to hear words of wisdom from social justice heroes.
Not just a black issue – it’s a human issue. Are we up to the challenge?
Martin Luther King, Jr. – an impossible and unrealistic dream or a legacy squandered by hatred and division? Or might you be one who believes great strides have been made in equal justice and opportunity for not only our black and brown brothers and sisters, but also for those of different creeds, lifestyle and nationality – the Puerto Rican, the Muslim, the gay and lesbian?
Yes, laws have been passed and legislation protects, but has the heart of white, privileged America miraculously filled with compassion since the era of MLK, Jr.? What leads you to believe so? Equal job opportunities? Fair housing practices? Safe city neighborhoods? Justice in the court systems? Protected voting rights? Or maybe state and federal governments represented proportionately by members of all minority groups? Really? You truly believe this is so? Can you unequivocally state that a gay man, a black man, a Muslim woman, a white woman walks as securely through life as a white man?
Well golly gee, I would love to share some of that whacky weed you are smoking followed by a swig of the Kool-Aid you’re drinking. America, wake up! We are at a crossroads in our country’s destiny. We have been rent asunder by today’s world and national political powers who want to see us even further divided because it will be then that their vile plans can be instituted – race against race, black against white, straight against gay, Christian against Muslim, Democrat against Republican. Dr. King spoke often of the brotherhood of mankind as the only way to keep this ship (the earth) from sinking and the necessity of non-violence in solving our problems. So, is his dream dead or merely shifting gears? It’s up to us, isn’t it?
one nation, indivisible, with liberty & justice for all
“the time is always ripe to do right”
“morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated”
“The crises we find ourselves in as a species require that as a species we shake up all our institutions—including our religious ones—and reinvent them. Change is necessary for our survival, and we often turn to the mystics at critical times like this. Jung said: “Only the mystics bring creativity into religion.”  Jesus was a mystic shaking up his religion and the Roman empire; Buddha was a mystic who shook up the prevailing Hinduism of his day; Gandhi was a mystic shaking up Hinduism and challenging the British Empire; and Martin Luther King, Jr. shook up his tradition and America’s segregationist society. The mystics walk their talk and talk (often in memorable poetic phraseology) their walk.” MATTHEW FOX cac.org – Richard Rohr
Do I do that – walk the talk and talk the walk? How about you? Those of you who have read my ramblings over the past few years probably realize I have a serious issue with religion and religionists. Many of them talk a great spiel from the pulpit and the pews of their churches, but then don’t walk it in their lives or in their behaviors. That is not real; it is not empowering. If not embraced in lifestyle this pretty rhetoric becomes just more trash on the pile of religious deceit. Preachers are guilty, parishioners are guilty, black and white are equally guilty, politicians are guilty. Me too. I do not always walk the talk.
But I highly esteem those mystics who have. The four named in the introductory quote are just a few of the many men and women who discovered their inner truth and then lived lives accordingly. Buddha was human, Jesus was human, Gandhi was human, and Martin Luther King was human, all acclaimed mystics were humans who acknowledged the Divine center of their beings as the most consequential and significant reason to talk the walk and walk the talk.
Our world is racing to the annihilation of the human species. Accompanied by rabid politics, fear-mongering politicians, greedy capitalism and heretical religions, the voices of those who pursue social justice, peace, and inner searching seem lost in the insanity. That which could turn the tide and redeem civilization from a sure demise is often obscured by conversations of victory at any cost rather than sensible compromise embracing the rights of all mankind and all earth’s natural resources.
We must come to realize and surrender to the premise that this planet is not a hodgepodge of several billion humans intent on survival as individuals, but rather, an ecosystem which includes all mankind, all animals, all plant life, all resources interdependent on one another and living together as one cohesive environment.
Learning to love ourselves and others begins from a place of reverence for all of life. This reverence flows forward in the Buddhist greeting, “Namaste”, I honor the divine in you. Not only other brothers and sisters on this earth, but every part of creation should be viewed and greeted with namaste.
“Honor the sacred.
Honor the Earth, our Mother.
Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we share the Earth.
Four-leggeds, winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.”
(Native American prayer for the earth)
“Who do we want to be as a nation?”
Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name. Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.
“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. And the glory of God shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together:
for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 40:4-5
“Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Like a beautiful flower, full of color, but without scent,
are the fine but fruitless words
of those who do not act accordingly.
But like a beautiful flower, full of color and full of scent,
are the fine and fruitful words
of those who do act accordingly.
from FLOWERS, the Buddha
We are encouraged in our faith walks and recovery programs to “walk the talk”. Scriptures and rhetoric flow easily off the tongues of many religious and political leaders only to be sadly contradicted by actions which betray their words. From the pulpits and the podiums flow endless streams of righteousness and exhortation but their eloquence produces no discernible spiritual fruit.
In these tumultuous times of hatred and vitriol spewing forth from politicians, clergy, and fellow citizens, many of us find our spiritual foundations rocked with a gut-wrenching desire to join in the melee of harshness and discord. In a heartbeat, in a moment of anger, I can become as evil and slanderous as the worst of the worst seen in the newspapers or on the viewing screens. In a fit of righteousness I can charge, judge, and condemn the most vocal offenders of my life’s philosophy. I deem myself omnipotent. It is then that I immediately become a part of the problem and not a promoter of the solution.
Talk is cheap. However, walking the talk is a never-ending endeavor which separates men from boys, wise from foolish, sheep from goats. The Buddha attained nirvana following a path of selflessness and principled living. Jesus and his disciples established a kingdom on earth led by the principles of “the Way.” Gandhi won liberation for his people through non-violent dissent. Martin Luther King, Jr. promoted non-violent protest as the vehicle to attain civil rights for African-Americans. They all walked their talk. Each of them was a peacemaker.
That also is my challenge in this life. I shall probably never attain greatness or recognition, but I can always strive to lace my thoughts, speech, and actions with mindfulness and compassion. I want the flowers of my life to be sweetly scented and fruitful. Engaging in and wallowing in hatefulness and vitriol is not an option. Filling my head with the latest scandal from media talking heads does not encourage enlightenment. Ancient wisdom teaches that what blossoms in the mind is who we are as a humanity. Fruit or thorns? Peace or strife? Compassion or oppression? It truly begins within each of us.
(Following are the final paragraphs of Dr. King’s famous speech, “Been to the mountaintop.” For the full text follow this link MOUNTAINTOP )
“………You know, several years ago, I was in New York City autographing the first book that I had written. And while sitting there autographing books, a demented black woman came up.
The only question I heard from her was, “Are you Martin Luther King?” And I was looking down writing, and I said, “Yes.” And the next minute I felt something beating on my chest. Before I knew it I had been stabbed by this demented woman. I was rushed to Harlem Hospital. It was a dark Saturday afternoon. And that blade had gone through, and the X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery. And once that’s punctured, your drowned in your own blood — that’s the end of you.
It came out in the New York Times the next morning, that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died. Well, about four days later, they allowed me, after the operation, after my chest had been opened, and the blade had been taken out, to move around in the wheel chair in the hospital.
They allowed me to read some of the mail that came in, and from all over the states and the world, kind letters came in. I read a few, but one of them I will never forget. I had received one from the President and the Vice-President. I’ve forgotten what those telegrams said. I’d received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I’ve forgotten what that letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I’ll never forget it. It said simply,
“Dear Dr. King, I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School.”
And she said,
“While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I’m a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze.”
And I want to say tonight — I want to say tonight that I too am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960, when students all over the South started sitting-in at lunch counters. And I knew that as they were sitting in, they were really standing up for the best in the American dream, and taking the whole nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1961, when we decided to take a ride for freedom and ended segregation in inter-state travel.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1962, when Negroes in Albany, Georgia, decided to straighten their backs up. And whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.
If I had sneezed — If I had sneezed I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.
I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.
And they were telling me –. Now, it doesn’t matter, now. It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us.
The pilot said over the public address system, “We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”
And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
Krishna was there,
Yahweh and Buddha watched from above.
They saw and wept;
“the Way”, the great “I AM”, a Savior
hung on a cross.
Man of peace,
messenger of love,
hope for the hopeless,
life for the dead in spirit
nailed to a tree.
Heavens roared in pain,
angels ceased singing,
holy ones prostrated in grief,
sun, moon and stars hid in horror.
Their Son, their beloved,
shamed and ravaged,
naked and dying,
nails through feet and hands,
mocked and reviled.
“No,” they bellowed,
“this shall not be the end.
Our Prince of Peace will prevail.
He will be Lord of lords
and King of kings. Forever.”
The Way – the truth and life continued,
peace, love, tolerance, justice
revealed through other lives.
Mohammed, Francis of Assisi,
Gandhi, Martin Luther King,
……….you and I.
All of God’s children united
with the spirit of the Way
living in truth and peace,
eternally joined with the Holy Ones.
His Way will not be crushed,
His truth will not be crushed,
His life will not be crushed,
and we shall live forever and ever.
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” [Isaiah 53:3]
In the small world between my ears I can think of nothing as frustrating or disgusting as politics. The limited federal government envisioned by the men of wisdom who forged our experiment which was never before undertaken by like-minded citizens has ballooned into an unwieldy and corrupt behemoth which favors wealth and power at the expense of commoners who keep the country’s machinery running. We are the simple, unassuming folks who pay bills on time, raise families, volunteer in our communities, and trust in the power of love and compassion. We support our local charities, tithe in church, and buy those outrageously-priced Girl Scout cookies every spring. We don’t ask for much in return other than a chance to run our lives without interference from legislators and politicians who see us as a ticket to power and riches. We are the backbone of a great country composed of every creed, every race, and every lifestyle imaginable. We are America and this America which we embrace will not disappear nor hide behind closed doors in the face of governmental tyranny and oppression supported by imbecilic minds and moronic behavior. They may have the money to build palaces unto themselves, eat filet mignon (or cheeseburgers) every night and adorn themselves in designer clothes. They may travel in jets to vacation spots worldwide at our expense and they may spend weekends knocking a little white ball around manicured, artificially beautified acres of greenery, but, when the final tally is made, when life for them is over, they will be as naked as jaybirds, poor as church mice, and answerable to a Supreme Power saying, “I knew you not.”
OK, that’s my political rant for the day. Now, on to the important things fluttering within my brain waves.
The eternity I seek is not some faraway place in the distant future. It is happening right now, right here in the world of LarryPaulBrown. Every breath I take and every thought I have is a moment of eternal commitment. Whom or what I choose as the focus of my commitment determines what my present moment will provide to me. It can be spent within the peace of a loving, compassionate God or it can be a endured in the chaos of a world gone mad. It truly is up to me where I go with my mind and my life. By no means have I attained a sustained state of bliss, but I have seen moments of what is available and I want more.
Martin Luther King, Jr., in his last speech the night before his assassination in Memphis gave one of his most powerful insights into that which is available:
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like any man, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 3, 1968)
We all need to go to the mountaintop and look it over. From that lofty state of mind the things of this earth are irrelevant. Our eyes will see the glory. The coming of the Lord has happened. It is right here, right now. Just open your eyes, spread you arms and receive Him.