Thursday, January 17, 2008

He's Still Looking Down

One thing I know about the world right now--there is a lot of information swirling around and around, especially on the internet. A person could conceivably stay day and night connected to the World Wide Web and not begin to scratch the surface of the what is happening. Seems to me that's another reason to consider the interconnectivity of all humanity and its subsequent corollaries: what one learns, we all learn; what one assimilates, we all assimilate; and as one grows, we all grow. Gives a new meaning to responsibility and redemption.

Martin Luther King's birthday came and went this week with little fanfare and a little dust-up between Hillary's and Barack's ideas about the history of the civil rights movement. The people involved in the squabble obviously had not learned the lessons of the King who said as he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality." This prescient royal epitomized the saint who had a dream, could talk his dream, and then knew how to pull people together to accomplish it. This was an extraordinary feat at a time when segregation was still a part of the collective consciousness of America--in fact, a part of the organism. In a few short years, this fated man helped move backward thinking into forward and in so doing changed the course of history.

50-years later a new generation cannot even imagine what it was like to be segregated and would find the thought of separation by race repugnant. But separation is all Martin Luther King knew. Thus, when he began gathering folks together to march in non-violent protests and delivering his eloquent speeches, the ideas he espoused were gathered from another consciousness, that of light--a consciousness that is available at all times, but only tapped when humanity's collective invocation reaches such a pitch, the request cannot be ignored. In his humility, King declared: "I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period, to see what is unfolding." I would add that rather than just "seeing" what was unfolding, he was the lighted catalyst precipitating the change with other like-minded souls.

King did not live for long, as we all know, and was killed before his message could be completely delivered. But during his life shortened by violence, others took up the banner and the words "I had a dream" continued to carry the non-violent message of equality and freedom for all. Few may remember that violence was espoused by many as the only way to gain this god-given freedom, but King refused to rally to this call and, instead, cautioned that non-violence was the winning way over time:
"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that one day humankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land."
Violence is still with us and will be until a lighted altering of the collective consciousness takes place. If we look hard, we will see that these changes have been occurring although incrementally since the end of World War II. Forerunners like Martin Luther King are the guarantee that non-violence will replace violence as part of the collective consciousness of humanity when the goodwill he speaks of is the rule rather than the exception. On that momentous day, mankind will know equality, liberty and brotherhood as fact rather than hope, and the King will look down from above with a nod and a smile.

I would like to thank a conscientious contributor who sent the photo above taken on her iphone and this piece written by John Dear, S.J. about Martin Luther King. She reports that Fr. Dear is a Jesuit priest as well as an antiwar protester and writes for the National Catholic Reporter.

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