Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Compassion

I realize belatedly that no mail today means holiday, and yes, it turns out it's Monday and it's already MLK day.

"Compassion and nonviolence help us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear their questions, to know their assessment of ourselves. For from their point of view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers and sisters who are called the opposition."

One of the things that I find most fascinating about MLK is his commitment to peace. Not just in terms of the idea of non-violent mass protests. That type of protest was a vital part of the endurance of the civil rights movement, allowing them to stake out the moral high ground on which their goals were based. But his opposition to the Vietnam war, to war and to violence in general, and his support of the ideas of compassion and human interconnection--those are what really impress me. Like Gandhi, like the Dalai Llama, to advocate the moral high ground not just for the civil rights movement, but as a way of life--this, I think, is what really made him unique, and part of what makes his legend endure. I hope I can pursue and advance that ideal as well.

"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just."

"This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

Thanks. Be at peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment