Reaching Sunward

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

America: the Beloved Community

Bill Moyers states the true and profound yet again in his speech “A Great But Broken Promise.” One part of his speech was especially affecting:

Reverend Michael Waters got it right a few years ago when he was a student here: “Martin Luther King became the symbol not only of the civil rights movement but of America itself: A symbol of a land of freedom where people of all races, creeds, and nationalities could live together as a Beloved Community.” Not as an empire. Or a superpower. Not a place where the strong take what they can and the weak what they must. But a Beloved Community. It’s the core of civilization, the crux of democracy, and a profound religious truth. But don’t go searching for the Beloved Community on a map. It’s not a place. It exists in the hearts and minds – our hearts and minds – or not at all.

Creating the Beloved Community in America is the right goal, and it’s what I’m for. I already know what I’m against; the current administration, it’s worldview, its lack of humanity and ethics, etc. Amnesty International states, “The U.S. administration remains deaf to the worldwide calls for closing down Guantanamo. It is unrepentant about the global web of abuse it has spun in the name of counter-terrorism. It is oblivious to the distress of thousands of detainees and their families, the damage to the rule of international law and human rights, and the destruction of its own moral authority, which has plummeted to an all-time low around the world while the levels of insecurity remain as high as ever.” I have read about these failures with soul-numbing chagrin, been angry, continued to vote, persistently written to my senators and reps, campaigned, prayed and done volunteer work in an effort to being balance to the force (as it were). I’ve done everything I can think of to counter the negative. And it’s right to not go quietly in the face of injustice – “Who can protest and does not, is an accomplice in the act.” ~ The Talmud

When I think of the current war and it’s leader, GW, this Einstein quote comes to mind – “He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

But a focus on negativity can lead to hopelessness and cynicism – two qualities I hope never to have. Even under duress, my heart must remain strong and positive. For, as Dorothy Thompson said, “Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow.” I still have a dream.

So, part of the fight for good, for democracy, for truth and humanity is to talk about what we stand for, not just about what we are against. RFK may have said it best –

Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills — against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence… Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation… It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or a woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he (or she) sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. {And elsewhere he said} Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws–but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted–when we tolerate what we know to be wrong–when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened–when we fail to speak up and speak out–we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.

So I’ll continue to speak up as so many others are also doing. I’ll continue to believe. Creating a Beloved Community is an act of love and hope, not of fear and anger. It is a positive response to a negative series of unfortunate events. It’s a glorious affirmition of what is good in the human soul, reawakened with new enthusiasm after seeing the darker side.

“In an age of nothing, at a time when we stand at the brink of our own destruction,
Strengthen your belief in yourself, in the future of humanity, in the things of this world that cannot be easily perceived.
Awaken that which lies dormant now within your soul. Re-ignite the flame of your consciousness, and measure the strength of your conviction.
Reveal the lie.
Renounce your hatred.
Seek, find and embrace the truths you are fortunate enough to discover. Cherish them. Use them to anchor you in the sea of chaos that is the world we live in.
When twilight draws near, when you are pushed to the very limits of your soul, When it seems that all you have left are the dead remnants of the fabric of your life? Believe.”

~ David Draiman


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