If I can help somebody, with a word or song
If I can help somebody, from doing wrong
No, my living shall not be in vain
No, my living shall not be in vain
If I can help somebody, as I’m singing the song
You know, my living shall not be in vain
As the elite descend on Davos, Switzerland, for this week’s World Economic Forum, two stark stats:
- Wealth held by the world’s billionaires has grown from $3.4 trillion in 2009, right after the meltdown, to $8.9 trillion in 2017. (UBS and PwC Billionaires Insights via Bloomberg)
- The 3.8 billion people who make up the world’s poorest half saw their wealth decline by 11% last year. (Oxfam, which works to alleviate poverty, via AP)
A new display of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers in Atlanta “provides insight into the slain civil rights leader’s thought processes as he drafted some of his most well-known speeches and notable sermons,” AP’s Kate Brumbach writes:
- “The Meaning of Hope: The Best of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection,” opened this weekend at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, in the Voice to the Voiceless gallery.
- “There are drafts of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance and ‘Beyond Vietnam’ speeches and of his eulogy for four girls who died when Ku Klux Klan members bombed a church in Birmingham, Alabama.”
“In drafts and outlines of speeches and sermons, both typed and written out longhand, words and entire lines are crossed out and rewritten.”
- “Even an already published copy of ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ is marked with further handwritten edits.”
- “Also included in the exhibition are King’s school transcripts — including one from Crozer Theological Seminary where he got a C in public speaking.”
Remembered as a great orator and a champion for human rights, Martin Luther King, Jr. also was a deep thinker on economics.
Between the lines: King’s philosophy has often been painted as a socialist because he advocated for the redistribution of wealth, referenced Karl Marx and even called for a “guaranteed annual income.” But King repudiated socialism and communism, noting in his 1967 speech “Where Do We Go From Here” that when it came to communism, “I have to reject that.”
“What I’m saying to you this morning is communism forgets that life is individual. Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis.”
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream. —Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
“Deep knowing and presence do not happen with our thinking minds. To truly know something, our whole being must be open, awake, and present. We intuitively knew how to be present as babies. Psychologists now say there is no such thing as an infant. There’s only an infant/caregiver.
In the first several months, from the infant’s view, they are one and the same. Infants see themselves entirely mirrored in their family’s eyes; they soon believe and become this vision. Contemplative prayer offers a similar kind of mirroring, as we learn to receive and return the divine gaze.
In his book Coming to Our Senses, historian Morris Berman makes the point that our first experience of life is not merely a visual or audio one of knowing ourselves through other people’s facial and verbal responses; it is primarily felt in the body. He calls this feeling kinesthetic knowing. We know ourselves in the security of those who hold us, skin to skin. This early knowing is not so much heard, seen, or thought. It’s felt.
Psychologists say that when we first begin to doubt and move outside of that kinesthetic knowing, we hold onto things like teddy bears and dolls. My little sister, Alana, had the classic security blanket as a baby. She dragged it everywhere until it was dirty and ragged, but we could not take it away from her. Children do such things to reassure themselves that they are still connected and one. But we all begin to doubt this primal union as the subject/object split of a divided world slowly takes over, usually by age seven. Body/mind/world/self all start getting split apart; we begin to see the basic fault lines in the world—and the rest of life will be spent trying to put it all back together again.
It seems we all must leave the Garden of Eden, the state of innocence and blissful, unconscious union. We can’t stay there, letting mother gaze at us forever. Unfortunately, if that primal knowing never happened at all, immense doubt arises about whether there even is a garden (“God”) where all things are one and good. When family systems disintegrate, people live with doubt and uncertainty. I am sure God fully understands. It is surely why Jesus says, “It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17:2).
Hopefully, our parents’ early gaze told us we were foundationally beloved. But when we inevitably begin to see ourselves through eyes that compare, judge, and dismiss, then we need spirituality to help heal the brokenness of our identity and our world. True spirituality is always bringing us back to the original bodily knowing that is unitive experience, which is why you cannot do it all in the head!”
“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity’ to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.”
His last sermon, on the evening before he was shot down outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. offered a conclusion that serves well as starting point for 2018. After declaring that America was sick in 1968, facing troubling times, King made this resolution:
Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school—be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.
Nothing would be more tragic than to turn back now, because we have seen the real possibility that, in the middle of this dark night of the American story, a Third Reconstruction is possible. “We made the world we are living in,” James Baldwin said, “and we have to make it over.” Imperfect though we are, we can do this work together in 2018 and move forward toward the more perfect union of our common creed.
Fifty years after Dr. King and many others launched a Poor People’s Campaign to demand a Marshall Plan for America’s poor, inequality in our nation has reached extremes we have not seen since the Gilded Age. As the Dow climbs and the wealthiest Americans get a massive tax break, 15 million more Americans are poor today than in 1968. In the same time period, the rate of extreme poverty has nearly doubled. Because of the systemic racism of voter suppression, which has been implemented in 23 of the nation’s poorest states since 2010, our political system is held captive by extremists who deny workers health care and a living wage, undermine the equal-protection clause of the constitution, attack public education, and encourage poor white people to blame people of color and immigrants for their problems. All the while, more and more of our collective resources are dedicated to a war without end.
-Rev. Dr. Barber
“If we are to remain true to our heritage and who we claim to be, we must stand with DREAMERS. It’s long past time for Congress to pass the #DreamAct Act now!”
-Eric Holder, former US Attorney General
Meditation readings today:
‘I destroy the ignorance-born darkness by the shining lamp of wisdom.’
‘I am resolved today to see the good in everyone and in every event.’
Wait. Even Mitch McConnell? And Ajit Pai? The universe really knows how to lay out a challenge.
Pai is the FCC chair appointed to the commission by President Obama in May 2012, at the recommendation of Mitch McConnell. He was appointed to chair by DT. He’s the one trying to eliminate Net Nuetrality. The five-member commission votes on Thursday, Dec. 14th.
“If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Science of Mind:
Faith in the justice of the universe is my altar. Up this altar I lay my offering of peace [and kindness].
‘If nothing goes forth from me that can hurt, then nothing can return to me that can harm.’
The humility of the manger is the common place in every person’s life. It is here, in the common place, that we must find the good and, finding it here, we shall also discover that the larger issues of our experience are overshadowed by this same good that we have discovered in the common place.
‘I believe what the self-centered have torn down,
the other-centered will build up.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We need quantitative change in our circumstances, and qualitative change in our souls.”
April 4th, 1968.
300 applicants wanted to serve on the Ferguson commission. The governor of Missouri chose 16. A 21-year-old community activist was one. Rasheed Aldridge. Our millennials want change.
The Huffington Post:
‘Sometimes, especially shortly after the establishment of the commission, protesters and other community members would disrupt meetings to share concerns about the commission simply being a distraction. The commission’s youngest member, 21-year-old Rasheen Aldridge, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he initially thought the commission “was just a way to really not get to the serious issues” but has since changed his mind.’
‘In the early days, he said, “the president (Obama), in my opinion, didn’t really step up to the plate.”
“But I remember when I was invited to the White House and he sat in the room with me and other activists and we talked about race and we talked about change that we wanted to see,” Aldridge said, “I could see in the president’s face that he was tired of having this conversation — that he really wanted to have some change happen.”
“I think after Ferguson, the president, he’s been hitting hard on race recently. And I appreciate it. I understand sometimes it is tough,” Aldridge said.’
Maria Papova/Brain Pickings:
MLK & the Birmingham Jail Letter
‘In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: 1) collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive; 2) negotiation; 3) self-purification; and 4) direct action.’
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
‘History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and give up their unjust posture; but … groups are more immoral than individuals.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed’
‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.’
-Martin Luther King, Junior
‘Not only do we grow as individuals, but humanity itself is also evolving. Though because our individual lives are so short, it’s hard to see it. Imagine staring at a century-old oak tree for a week and trying to see its growth. To see the transformation from acorn to sapling to mature tree we need to see with ‘deep time eyes.’ It’s the same with the human race. We need perspective. Theodore Parker was Unitarian minister and social reformer. Shortly before the Civil War he gave a series of sermons condemning slavery. He said, “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways;…I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.’ He knew that the present struggle was part of the healing of our country. It would take time. A century later, Dr. Martin Luther Kin Jr. used this quote to remind us not to lose heart in the work toward equality. As we heal our own hearts and reveal our own light, we help humanity to do the same. As we see our world today, our work is to know the truth of us all. We are learning. We are growing. We are becoming.’
-Rev. Michael Gott