yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April 4: Prince of Peace Day

Today is Easter, a day celebrating the rebirth of Jesus Christ in the mix with pagan agricultural rituals (thanks to Constantine). It is also April 4, an important date for Martin Luther King, Jr.: When he delivered his important anti-Vietnam War speech for which he was vilified in 1967 and assassinated in 1968. Some say that it was the speech that lead to the assassination, a year to the day. Martin Luther King was a Prince of Peace for Americans, modern Americans, in an age when it matters most.

I keep thinking about Martin Luther King. Perhaps because I saw a moving documentary on PBS this past week about the Vietnam speech, read a very powerful OpEd piece in yesterday's NY Times, and watched the ever-intelligent Bill Moyers Journal on Friday night (PBS) with two scholars talking about MLK's legacy. But I think the reason he is in the forefront of my mind is because I have woken up to his message. His message is relevant today. His message is of course for peaceful, nonviolent means to, well, peace! Peaceful coexistence. Too bad he didn't leave longer. We might be further along on the evolutionary trail. I could say the same thing about Christ, but to me, Christ has a different flavor, more of a mythologic/symbolic figure people have created, but to my mind he is a place where we put our hopes and dreams and requires an unsure leap of faith which is more than my rational mind can make. MLK lived when I was alive. He is in my experience, in my cells.

Martin Luther King, Jr., of course, is known as the civil rights leader in the 1960s who brought (successfully, though hard-won) attention to the second-class status of black people in America. Things really changed in this country back then. White people kicked and screamed and there was violence, but not from MLK's corner. Like Gandhi (who he admired), he resisted violence. Most importantly, MLK brought JUSTICE for black people. For this, his family endured death threats, the bombing of their home, and he was stabbed. Talk about "terrorism!" (One scholar interviewed this week said that poverty is not the opposite of wealth; poverty is the opposite of justice. What a concept!). Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize. Shouldn't we have listened to him? Shouldn't we study and listen to him now?

But once civil rights for blacks was in motion, MLK's conscience became focused on the war we were engaged in, in Vietnam. How wasteful ($) in contrast to the poverty that existed then and still exists today. His awareness of the violence and waste of war really ticked off his supporters, the government (including President Lyndon Johnson), and many others who pigeon-holed him as just a civil rights leader--What was he doing coming out against the war? MLK was accused of being a communist. Imagine, this man, MLK, a man of depth who started to connect the dots between racial inequality, poverty, a government spending precious capital on a violent war overseas being accused of sedition. MLK apparently spent that last year of his life as an outsider, depressed, not understood. Then he was killed. God, it's like Christ. Two men of peace, killed. Like Gandhi. Like RFK. Like Lincoln. Like John Lennon. Always the same. The ones we need the most. The peace-makers. They are too much, we can't handle them, and so we kill them.

If you would like to read Martin Luther King's speech, "Beyond Silence," delivered at Riverside Cathedral in New York on April 4, 1967, here is a link:

Having read the speech (only a portion of it was covered by camera), I come away seeing that Martin Luther King saw plainly where we were--and where we were headed. What he said then, in 1967, could apply to where America is today, in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where we are with the uber-rich Wall Street robbers and the sinking middle class. In the PBS documentary I was lucky to watch last week, one scholar said that Martin Luther King, Jr., is the most important American we have ever produced. That's a huge statement, but I think it is the truth! He kicked ass. He was da bomb. And he acted entirely in peace. That is really huge. How he managed to be peaceful, that is the important part. Talk about will power. We all need to think carefully about America's place in the world. We have been war-mongering violent people. We have feared speaking out in favor of peace. Ask, "Can I go beyond silence?" I suppose, I just have!

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