1/15/07

A Moral Imperative


This morning started out a bit rough. Beginning with me being grumpy. After I poured myself a cup of coffee, I began to search the web for some writings and images of Martin Luther King, jr. I immediately found a video of his "I Have A Dream Speech". And instantly a calm washed over me.
As soon as I started the video, Connor excitedly yells out, "Hey! That's Martin Luther King! It's his birthday!!" My eyes filled up with tears and I'm still picking up the gelatinous pieces of my exploding, melting heart.

Way back in the day, I attended a rather new school in our district: Martin Luther King, jr Elementary. We studied Dr. King from September-May. Because of this new school, the name, the legacy, we reaped some pretty cool benefits. Coretta Scott King came to our school and gave a speech. Jesse Jackson visited as well. Though we only heard a few words from him as he passed through the hallways of our school. I have always felt that if I were at any other school, this would not have happened. We wouldn't have learned so much for so long. We might not have necessarily got to actually see Coretta Scott King in person or actually hear her words coming from her mouth only a few feet away.

As I listened to Dr. King's speech this morning, his words rested upon somewhat wisened ears. And so many thoughts came rushing forward. First off was how no matter how many times I hear that speech, it continues to give me goosebumps. Second off is that his message was inclusionary. He wasn't about lifting African-Americans up and pushing Caucasians down. He was about everyone living together because we are all from the same place. We are all, essentially, the same. I mean, you can't get any simpler than that. Then that got me thinking about my race. And some insights that I have been privy to. I've probably been privy too all along, but have just now allowed myself to actually digest them.

For example, in my History class last semester, we began talking about the Civil Rights movement, the women's movement, and John Kenneth Galbraith. We also began discussing the 'new face of poverty' - women and children, primarily. And a young, good-looking, well-dressed guy in my class of my race says, "Well, we don't have abject poverty in this country anymore. People aren't struggling like they used to." I almost fell off of my chair. And I don't know why. Because only a white person could say something so ignorant. And I mean ignorant in the actual definition of the word. I, of course, couldn't keep my mouth shut: "You mean to tell me that you believe abject poverty doesn't exist in this country? Has Katrina taught you nothing? And of course, many people don't think it exists because it's not a picture that this country is happy to hang on it's walls." His response was something that went along the lines of "Well, people are poor now because of Katrina."
Oh My Dear God.

We are so led astray by what is really going on. By our own government and media that I do not know why we are not rioting and marching again.

Which leads me to the next stream of thought. Where are our leaders today? Where are our MLK, jr's and our Rosa Parks'? Is is that they're out there, but they are essentially being censored, shut-down and shut-up? Or is it that no one is willing to stand up for the good of people? I'd really like an answer to this question. I know I'll probably never get it.
I want to feel hopeful that we, as a country, have not become complacent, that we have not moved backward in time. But it is my observation that
we have.

Some would argue that racial justice has been fought for and won.
Some would argue that sexual equality has been fought for and won.
Some would argue that this country has come a long way.

I'm not disagreeing with some of the progress. I mean, I can't be completely negative and say nothing has been accomplished.
But we have new challenges.
And we all need to rise up to those challenges.


The other night, Ravioli was watching the football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints. The camera panned out and took a wide-shout of the whole entire football stadium. You could see how many people were packed into each seat. The amount of people was overwhelming.

I remember watching people in a football stadium not so long ago. During Hurricane Katrina. Desperation, hopelessness, hungry, thirsty, listless babies, panic-stricken mothers, elderly famished. I said to myself, Oh my god. These people were sent there TO die.

And when I saw that football stadium on TV Saturday night, I heard that voice again. Not that the people watching the football game were sent there to die. It was just seeing all of those people, the sheer numbers, was confirmation for some reason. I saw the actual number of people that stadium could hold. And that there is no doubt in my mind that officials knew what was coming. And why in the hell there weren't ample basic supplies was just beyond me. The questions just pile up and compound on top of each other. I'm just as mad about it today as I was then.
Is anyone else?

That is a clear-cut sign, to me, that racial equalities have not been settled. It's a clear-cut sign to me that we are in a class-war here at home. But neither of these, it appears, is being fought for.
What would MLK, jr. have done had he been alive to see such a gross mistreatment of so many individuals of this country?

I have felt the call to become apart of some organized thinking, some organized action. But I don't know where to turn. And maybe others out there feel as I do. Maybe they want to be involved, but don't know if there are any action groups. So, if someone out there knows where to go, please, comment and leave the information. Let that be your service today.

By giving of ourselves, we are giving to so many others. And many times, it takes little effort on our part, to give. And the smallest thing could be the biggest miracle to someone else.

I don't mean to get all preachy. I'm not trying to jam anything down anyone's throat. I just have my own dream of a better way, a better intention. And I know others out there must have the same kinds of dreams.

Let me end this here. But I'm going to make a long post even longer by adding lyrics to a song that I keep hearing in my head right now.

Picture of Jesus
By: Ben Harper

It hangs above my altar
Like they hung him from a cross
I keep one in my wallet
For the times that
I feel lost
In a wooden frame with splinters
Where my family kneels to pray
And if you listen close
You'll hear the words he used to say

I've got a picture of Jesus
In his arms my prayers rest
We've got a picture of Jesus
And with him we shall be forever blessed
Forever blessed
Forever blessed

Now it has been spoken
He would come again
But would we recognize
This king among men
There was a man in our time
His words shine bright like the sun
He tried to lift the masses
And was crucified by a gun

He was a picture of Jesus
With him so many prayers rest
He is a picture of Jesus
In his arms so many
So many prayers
So many prayers rest
With him we shall be forever blessed
Forever blessed
Forever blessed

Some days have no beginning
And some days have no end
Some roads are straight and narrow
And some roads only bend
So let us say a prayer
For every living thing
Walking towards a light
From the cross of a king
We long to be a picture of Jesus
Of Jesus
In his arms
In his arms so many prayers rest
I long to be a picture of Jesus
With him we shall be forever blessed
With him we shall
With him we shall be forever
Oh-Oh- I long
I've got a picture of Jesus

1 ripples in the pond:

jen said...

you are such a beautiful woman, tab.

run for something. change the world to how you want it to be.

i'll campaign for you. all the way.