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Neil Mick
01-16-2006, 03:59 PM
As you know, today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Coincidentally, my dojo is doing kangeiko ("Cold Training") this week. Sensei read a little from MLK and considered: what would it be like for O Sensei and Dr. King to meet? What would that conversation be like?

A lot of what MLK said has resonance in Aikido. He said that we should fight violence and injustice with "soul power..." sound familiar? Substitute "Vietnam" for "Iraq," and his speech sounds eerily...contemporary (makes me wonder how far along we've progressed as a species, in 30+ years).

As is the custom on this day, the mainstream media will play his "I Have a Dream" speech and utterly ignore everything he said and did after that. But a lot of what he said in that time has resonance, even on international events of the day.

Consider his "Beyond Vietnam" (http://www.bushflash.com/mlk2005.html) speech:

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." [applause] Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin [applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and 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 transformed 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. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. [applause]

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 South 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 hand 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. [sustained applause]

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

(You can read the whole speech, here (http://www.africanamericans.com/MLKjrBeyondVietnam.htm)).

Happy MLK Day! Let's take this opportunity to consider Dr. King's message, and how we can incorporate it into our practice, and our daily lives. It's not too far-removed, from O Sensei's message, really.

Mark Freeman
01-16-2006, 06:14 PM
Hi Neil,

Thanks for reminding me about this great man's day. Unfortunately it's not something we celebrate here, but there are many of us here that know that the words he spoke then are as relevant today as they were then.

I was a young white kid growing up in the sixties in a safe suburb of London. I was really into music and the fashion at the time was ska and bluebeat imported by the many Jamaican immigrants living in town, from there it moved onto US Soul music which I loved with a passion, at this point I started getting really drawn into the politics and the civil rights struggle tht were hapening there. I can remember hearing speeches made by Dr King that made me weep then, as they can do now when I hear them again.
It seems that if we don't learn from history we are condemed to repeat it. Although for many, the civil rights movement did make some great strides, the higher ideals that Dr King had for our leaders seem along way offA true revolution of values will lay hand 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. [sustained applause]
When reading the above, I can't help but agree that we haven't progressed much in what is now nearly 40!! years

As for O'Sensei meeting with Dr King, I think these great men may in the afterlife be sitting, possibly having invited Ghandi round to join them, to ponder on the state of things here. Peace was their goal, they gave plenty of pointers on how to get there, they devoted their lives to improving the lot of others. They may be a little down-hearted, but I'm sure they'll raise a glass to Dr King on his celebrated day (herbal tea for Ghandi).

If we think the lunatics have taken over the Assylum, what are we going to do about it? :(

Neil Mick
01-17-2006, 04:43 PM
If we think the lunatics have taken over the Assylum, what are we going to do about it? :(

We follow the advice of Joe Hill: "Don't mourn, ORGANIZE!" :cool: