Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be changed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. 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.
Oh, my friends, if there is any one thing that we must see today is that these are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. They are saying, unconsciously, as we say in one of our freedom songs, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around!" It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo, we shall boldly challenge unjust mores, and thereby speed up the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the rough places shall be made plain, and the crooked places straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing, unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of mankind. And when I speak of love I'm not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of John: "Let us love one another, for God is love. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us."
Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. And there can be no great disappointment where there is not great love. I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism. We are presently moving down a dead-end road that can lead to national disaster. America has strayed to the far country of racism and militarism. The home that all too many Americans left was solidly structured idealistically; its pillars were solidly grounded in the insights of our Judeo-Christian heritage. All men are made in the image of God. All men are bothers. All men are created equal. Every man is an heir to a legacy of dignity and worth. Every man has rights that are neither conferred by, nor derived from the State--they are God-given. Out of one blood, God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. What a marvelous foundation for any home! What a glorious and healthy place to inhabit. But America's strayed away, and this unnatural excursion has brought only confusion and bewilderment. It has left hearts aching with guilt and minds distorted with irrationality.
It is time for all people of conscience to call upon America to come back home. Come home, America. Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on." I call on Washington today. I call on every man and woman of good will all over America today. I call on the young men of America who must make a choice today to take a stand on this issue. Tomorrow may be too late. The book may close. And don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, "You're too arrogant! And if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I'll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I'm God."
Now it isn't easy to stand up for truth and for justice. Sometimes it means being frustrated. When you tell the truth and take a stand, sometimes it means that you will walk the streets with a burdened heart. Sometimes it means losing a job...means being abused and scorned. It may mean having a seven, eight year old child asking a daddy, "Why do you have to go to jail so much?" And I've long since learned that to be a follower to the Jesus Christ means taking up the cross. And my bible tells me that Good Friday comes before Easter. Before the crown we wear, there is the cross that we must bear. Let us bear it--bear it for truth, bear it for justice, and bear it for peace. Let us go out this morning with that determination. And I have not lost faith. I'm not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order. I haven't lost faith, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. I can still sing "We Shall Overcome" because Carlyle was right: "No lie can live forever." We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant was right: "Truth pressed to earth will rise again." We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell was right: "Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne." Yet, that scaffold sways the future. We shall overcome because the bible is right: "You shall reap what you sow." With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid because the words of the Lord have spoken it. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all over the world we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we're free at last!" With this faith, we'll sing it as we're getting ready to sing it now. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore. And I don't know about you, I ain't gonna study war no more.
Now playing: AlhajiK_Kyenkyen
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Ellen, in the winter after her death
I suggested that we share a smoke after dinner
An honor to your memory; a remembrance of our love.
It was snowing outside and it reminded me of those Michigan winters that we spent together
cuddled up in your house,
watching old movies on A&E,
taking breaks during commercials
sneaking in those cigarette moments.
Such weather conditions are rare in the Pacific Northwest.
You'ld probably chide me for smoking. It was
Your bit of hypocrisy. One that I loved,
but never really understood.
“Don't do it because of me. If your want to smoke, then do so.
But don't because of me.” you'd say.
You cannot chide me, now.
Still, I hear your voice as clear as day and, though I disagree,
it still nags me and I put out the cigarette before it's time.
Before I do that, I watch the snow falling in the street light's illumination.
I begin a conversation with the love of my life about you, but she gets a phone call.
It's OK. It's alright,
That call gives me the time to think about you.
About how much I miss you.
I miss your voice.
I miss your thoughts.
I miss your chiding.
I tried to get you out here.
To see my/our place.
To spend time with me and the woman I love also
In the world that I've come to think of as paradise.
I wanted you to see my home,
to see my new town,
to see the mountains and the sea,
and, yes, bring your love, too and I'd be happy to share it with you both!
Was it so selfish to want to share that?
It doesn't seem so.
For this moment, I feel lonely. And I also feel comforted...your memory and it's voice rings in my head.
And I take a couple of drags on this fire stick and with them I bring you deeper inside me
And that brings me comfort and joy and a smile and some sadness.
How is your mother; only a month after your birthday?
Perhaps I'll write her and send her this poem.
You touched me dearly.
I'm glad to have returned a little joy to your life.
Thank you for bringing warm thoughts to mine on this cold, but lovely night.
I breathe those last words into smoke rings that float into the heavens.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Now playing: Electrelane - To The East
via FoxyTunes Last Wednesday I was driving to a friend's house for dinner. It was after 6PM as I had just left work. NPR was playing their news segment. The reporter was discussing the CIA's destruction of videotapes documenting the torture of terrorist suspects. Except the reporter couldn't, or wouldn't use the term "torture". Instead, the reporter called these actions "stringent interrogation".
Why would he do such a thing? Some thoughts come to mind. Perhaps he was in line politically with the tools that performed the torture. Perhaps he was bought and paid for by the administration or the CIA. Whatever the reason it was a terrible euphemism and something he should be taken to task for by his employers. Indeed, in a less generous mood, I'd suggest strapping the jerk to a stiff board and stringently interrogating him for an hour to see if he had the same opinion afterwards.
NPR is often derailed as being a voice of liberal opinions. This is laughable at best. Over the years they have prostrated themselves to the Republican leadership in order to demonstrate their moderation. Heck, this was the network that featured William F. Buckley's programs (for which, I must note, I am grateful, though I often disagreed with the man)! He's hardly a liberal. However, if the editors there are going to bend over so far that they allow a euphemism like "stringent interrogation" into a report rather than call it for what it was - torture - then they might as well throw in the towel because they aren't worth sinking any more taxpayer dollars into their coffers than I would ABC, CBS, or NBC. There's a difference between seeking moderation in a report and the bald faced apologetic lying of the sort that Judith Miller used to employ.
The quote from the reporter went along the lines of:
An investigation was announced today by members of Congress who say that they want to look into the CIA's role in the alleged destruction of videotapes which purport to show stringent interrogations of terrorist suspects.
Now playing: Cluster - James