Dharma Topic: Celebrating Martin Luther King

Dharma Topic: Celebrating Martin Luther King

Discussion date: Thu, Jan 20, 2005 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

I’ve been reflecting this week about the towering presenceof Martin Luther King, Jr. and how much he could have offered had he lived tocelebrate his 75th birthday this week.

We will celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday thisThursday, January 20, at our weekly gathering, by listening together to sectionsfrom his 1967 speech "Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence" andreflecting on how we have been inspired by Martin Luther King’s life and vision.

"Beyond Vietnam" was given on April 4, 1967, to aNew York City conference of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. In thistalk Martin Luther King explains how his conscience cannot separate thesuffering of African Americans from the suffering of Vietnamese. There is onlyone struggle, for peace and freedom everywhere. Martin Luther King’s awarenessof the Vietnamese situation was greatly influenced by his friendship with ThichNhat Hanh, whom Dr. King nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.

You are invited to join us this Thursday for our meditationperiod and our program. The best times to enter are just before the firstsitting begins at 7:00 pm, at about 7:25, just before the walking meditation,and about 7:35, just before the second sitting.

Below is an excerpt from "Beyond Vietnam." Boththe text and the live audio are available on the web at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm.

Warm wishes,

Mitchell Ratner 
Senior Teacher

Excerpt from "Beyond Vietnam — A Time to BreakSilence" 
by Martin Luther King, Jr.

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysisthat our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nationmust now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order topreserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborlyconcern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for anall-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood andmisinterpreted concept — so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world asa weak and cowardly force — has now become an absolute necessity for thesurvival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental andweak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions haveseen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key thatunlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. ThisHindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality isbeautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of theday. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altarof retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-risingtides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individualsthat pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says :

"Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. Weare confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum oflife and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination isstill the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejectedwith a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does notremain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause inher passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleachedbones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the patheticwords: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfullyrecords our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and havingwrit moves on…" We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence orviolent co-annihilation.

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Jan 20, 2005


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