Martin Luther King, Jr. & the Season for Non-violence
Martin Luther King Jr. lived an extraordinary life. At age 33, he was pressing the case of civil rights with President John Kennedy. At 34, he galvanized the nation with his “I Have a Dream” speech. At 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. At 39, he was assassinated, but he left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues today.
Many of his statements express that hope and inspiration:
Let me know what you think about them….
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
“The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”
“Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: — we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
It’s no coincidence that the Season for Non-violence begins soon after the MLK, Jr. remembrance.
The Season for Nonviolence was established by Arun Gandhi, Mohandas Gandhi’s grandson, as a yearly event celebrating the philosophies and lives of his grandfather and Martin Luther King Jr. The “season” begins with the anniversary of Mohandas Gandhi’s assassination on January 30 and ends with the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination on April 4. It is anchored by a mission, statement of principles, and commitments by participants towards living in a nonviolent way.
I included a link to information and activities in your weekly email on Wednesday.
Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using the tactics of nonviolence and civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs and inspired by the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule which was finally granted in 1947. At that time, Pakistan was carved out of India to be a Muslim state. He used nonviolent civil disobedience to achieve his goal of independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
Like MLK, Gandhi was assassinated, that occurred in 1948.
What do you think of these quotes from Gandhi?
“Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.”
“Mental violence has no potency and injures only the person whose thoughts are violent. It is otherwise with mental non-violence. It has potency which the world does not yet know.”
“The mice which helplessly find themselves between the cat’s teeth acquire no merit from their enforced sacrifice.”
“It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity.”
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
The Season for Nonviolence tells us “We learn to practice nonviolence one step at a time, one choice at a time, one day at a time. Through our daily nonviolent choices and action, the noble and courageous spirit within each of us expresses itself as the skills, wisdom and character of a nonviolent human being. This is how we each, in our own way, move the world in a direction of peace.”
Last years World Day of Prayer was devoted to the power of peace with the theme Peace in the Midst. We affirmed … I am peace in the midst of all matters!
If we look constantly outside ourselves, we will find it difficult to find peace, to BE peace.
In the midst of conflict or challenge, how do we “be peace”? How do we DO peace? How do my actions contribute to peace?
The good thing, no the GREAT thing is as we grow in consciousness, we create a more loving and peaceful world…our own and the Universe.
Picture of incomplete circle…
Anyone of you feel an urge to complete the circle?
In the Unity booklet, “The Way to Inner Peace” there are many stories and helpful ideas regarding ways to inner peace.
One is by Rev. Don Lansky. He tells of a Psychology experiment where a partial circle is drawn on the board.
When students look at the circle, rather than seeing a nearly complete circle, their eyes naturally go to the missing piece—the incompleteness.
Human beings are wired to both recognize the possibility of completing the circle and to experience the tension when it’s incomplete. In the classes, someone (who can’t stand it for a second longer) almost always goes up to the blackboard before the class is over to fill in the missing piece.
We can apply this lesson to our own lives. Are we choosing to see wholeness and perfection, or are we fixated on what is missing, what is awry?
What if we see our challenging behaviors, experiences, attitudes, thoughts, relationships, finances, health, and even spiritual development as a validation of who we are, rather than a shortcoming or failure?
What if our discomfort is our deep-seated urge to realize the wholeness that we innately know we already are?
We may sometimes feel that the universe is conspiring to rob us of our peace and wholeness. It happened to Jesus when he was tempted during his 40 days in the wilderness. And Rev. Lanksey says it happened repeatedly to one of his most respected heroes—Bugs Bunny. I think most of us can recall Bugs Bunny cartoons…
All Bugs ever wanted was to live in peace. He would be taking in the sun on his chaise lounge at the top of his rabbit hole, wearing his sunglasses, sipping a tall glass of carrot juice, and singing a song—happy as could be.
Suddenly, Elmer Fudd would be shooting at him and trying to bag him for dinner. Bugs was incredulous at first. Elmer would throw Bugs into a basting pan and Bugs thought he was just getting a hot bath.
But finally, he would get it! Elmer was trying to cook him. Then the chase would begin. Bugs Bunny was like a great aikido master. He never lost his cool or his sense of humor, and he always used his opponent’s energy to outsmart them. Because of his equanimity, Bugs was victorious and able to return to his own peace and privacy—which was all he ever wanted anyway.
When we feel like external circumstances are threatening our internal and external peace, we can learn a lot from Jesus, Buddha, the great masters and sages throughout history, and even Bugs Bunny. The truth is, we are already whole and complete. Nothing is missing. There is nothing to find because nothing was ever lost.
Author Mark Twain said this another way: “I am an old man and I’ve lived through many trials and tribulations, most of which never really happened.”
At this time in human history, we are called to a boldness of faith through prayer, meditation, the practices of gratitude and forgiveness, listening and following our inner guidance, and practicing the presence of God in every moment.
Several years ago, on one of the space shuttle voyages, Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud, one of the astronauts who was part of an international crew, said that during the first few days in orbit, everyone tried to find their own countries. By the third day they were just identifying continents, and after five days, all they saw was earth.
Like the astronauts, we all have a deep yearning within to see wholeness—to see and experience peace. That peace is already within you—right here, right now. The truth is, we are already whole and complete. Nothing is missing. There is nothing to find because nothing was ever lost.
If you are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you or shakes your arm, making you spill your coffee everywhere.
Why did you spill the coffee?
“Well because someone bumped into me, of course!”
You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.
Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea.
“Whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out.”
Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which WILL happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled.
*So we have to ask ourselves… “what’s in my cup?”
When life gets tough, what spills over?
Joy, gratefulness, peace and humility?
Or anger, bitterness, harsh words and reactions?
“God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done…”(2 Corinthians 9:8)
I leave you with this thought…remember this quote?
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” — Reinhold Niebuhr
Someone made it personal with just a little change…
“God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me.” – Anonymous