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Entries in Martin Luther King (3)


Bright Spots

I have a confession to make: I stopped consuming news. 

I say this as a former journalism student, a person who had a short-lived journalism career, and someone who has fervently believed for my entire adult life that it is actually my (and all of our) responsibility to know what's going on in our community.  That's the way this whole democracy thing is supposed to work, after all.

But something happened, somewhere between the debt ceiling crisis, the 47th Republican Presidential debate, and the tear-gassing of Occupy Wall Street and I just couldn't take it anymore.  I got this very clear sense that all my efforts to inform myself were making me angry, despairing, and - perhaps worst - dumber.

So I stopped.  Cold turkey, basically.

I am not so willfully ignorant as to be unaware that millions of people are still out of work, the presidential contest is already mind-numbingly cynical a year ahead of the election, and sports gods exploit children while entitled kids riot in the streets in an inconceivable protest.  The amount of bad news out there is chilling.

But here's the thing:  there's a bright spot, and I'm pretty sure it's growing.

I feel like I'm talking to a lot of people lately who are daring to dream out loud, living from their hearts.  A lot of people lately are telling me stories of transformation in their lives, saying that their dreams are coming true.  The more I step onto this new practice of mine, the more I know I am not alone. 

A friend told me this weekend that she's found a way to do potentially groundbreaking scientific research on mothers and newborns outside of the rigid confines of the academic establishment.  That seemed impossible a couple years ago but she's doing it now.  Another friend yesterday told me she's on the verge of scaling up a program she created to take art supplies and art therapy to underprivileged kids around the world.  A series of inspired synchronicities combine with hard work to look like a small miracle.

I hear these things and think Sorry NPR.  I don't need you anymore.  I want to smother the politics and the business-as-usual with a wet blanket.  I want to give all my oxygen to the small sparks of inspired work I see around me.

I'm back to my favorite MLK quote:

Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.

It gives me a little glimmer of hope, this vision of a small but growing critical mass, lighting the way.


Wise Men

203.365 50mm (+12mm mac tube) f2.5 1/1250 ISO 200I've quoted this sermon here before, but in light of this week's big news it seems fitting to give room to a longer excerpt:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence,
and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction...

The chain reaction of evil
-- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars --
must be broken,
or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Strength To Love, 1963

Or, to quote a more contemporary philosopher:

You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace.

Michael Franti
Bomb the World, 2006 

Power to the Peaceful, y'all.


Light and Love

97.365 50mm f1.4 1/40 ISO 1600

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Strength to Love, Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963

A friend of mine posted this quote as her Facebook status yesterday which made me go read more of MLK's sermons.  This happens every so often.  I hear something King said and it drives me back to an original text.  (Thanks, internet!)  Every time I read his speeches or listen to his recorded words I am amazed at how right he was, not just about the seemingly intractable evil of institutionalized racism in this country, but about humanity in general.  

I suppose it is the height of futility to ask why we don't have leaders like this in our country now.  But I take heart at this little nugget I found last night, from the same book:

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.

I hope he's right about this too, because us maladjusted creatives?  We want to change the world.

Thanks, Dr. King.  You're still an inspiration.