Saturday, November 22, 2014

Lest We Forget: It Seems the Good Die Young

(I'm sitting here in tears listening to soul singer Marvin Gaye's rendition of "Abraham, Martin, John" as I write this.  
You may want to as well.)

My fingers were fumbling at the keyboard in typing class that day in 1963, exactly 51 years ago, when the teacher from across the hall came into the room and whispered in Miss Jefferson's ear.

Her face turned white.

The other teacher left and Miss Jefferson broke into tears as she announced that President Kennedy had been shot and taken to a hospital in Dallas.

No one said a word.

Moment's later the other teacher returned. He didn't have to say a word.  His face, a portrait of horror and helplessness said it all.  We knew.  He knew we knew.  Holding back tears, he shrugged awkardly, turned -- and left. 

The unimaginable had happened.
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a man who had  set the lives of many of us on a trajectory toward public service in the name of American Democracy, had been assassinated. 

Within the next five years, three more champions of the real American Dream, the human quest to create a democratic society that fosters human freedom, dignity, equality, and justice had fallen.

RFK with widowed Mrs. KIng.  2 months later he was dead
Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

These courgeous visionaries had stirred our souls to action as America grappled to come to terms with it's own homegrown Apartheid, a cycle of poverty that impoverished millions of people of all races, and a bellicose foreign policy dictated by the interests of its growing military-industrial-intelligence complex.  Then a series of shots rang out that turned our dreams into nightmares.   First Malcolm X, then Martin Luther King Jr., then President Kennedy's own brother, Senator Robert Kennedy were martyred.

Each of these great souls opposed the Vietnam War and advocated true economic and social justice.

Living the Dream to them wasn't about the individual pursuit of self-interested material acquisition and mindless entertainment.  It was about things like a more perfect union, establishing justice, promoting the general welfare.  You know, the ideals set out in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, the same document that our current band of right-wingers seem to think is all about giving a wealthy elite free reign to exploit the rest of us. 

I think it's time for Marvin Gaye again.  I need a good cry.

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My Humble Take on the Real Deal

I believe that the movement for peace, economic democracy and social justice is a Spiritual Quest. No mean feat, what is called for is a True Revolution of the Heart and Mind--and it starts with each of us.

This revolution has to be Peaceful. The Hippies (and Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King, et al) had it right. It really is all about Peace and Love. Besides being a total drag, violence just doesn't work. It keeps our wheels spinning in fear, anger and pain. Who needs that?

Besides some hard work, I think the Revolution also calls for dancing, plenty of laughter, and some sitting around just doing nothing. (Some folks call it meditation.)

As Stephen Gaskin, proclaimed years ago:

"We're out to raise Hell--in the Bodhisattvic* sense."

Doesn't that sound like some serious fun?

(*The Bodhisattva Vow is a set of commitments made in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It basically says I vow to get my act together and figure it out well enough to really help out--and I ain't gonna stop until everybody is covered.

I've found that doesn't necessarily have to happen in that order. It's best to try to help out even before you have it all together! Like right now.)

-----Brother Lefty Smith, Founding S.O.B*