Monday, January 16, 2017

A Reflection: We need a serious break from the unquenchable flames of political hostility and consuming anger at others who don't agree with us

With the convergence of two distinctly different nationally and globally significant dates this week, one can only hope, out of sense of respect for our country's traditions and moral values, if not common decency, that we might have a cease-fire in the war of hateful words and viral missives in the so-called social internet and media.  

Today, Monday, January 16th, the federal holiday celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., should, at least, be a pause for peaceful patriotism and hope for the millions of poor, sick, hungry, homeless, oppressed minorities and the oppression of the hatred of hatred in the aftermath of the elections in November not only for the president-elect and for those who should not voted for him according to their superior intellect.   

On Friday, January 20th, the Inauguration of Presdient-elect Donald J. Trump taking the oath of office of the 45th President of the United States, is one of the oldest institutions in our nation's history, since General George Washington took the Oath of Office during the War of Independence of the United States in 1789.

I realize that the numbers of people shouting the shooting words may be a relatively small minority of each of the extreme political positions in our country. But they inflame many others with words those others are willing to swallow and regurgitate, using them as talking point phrases that are most often spit out in lieu of knowledge of full facts and comprehension of each the many complex issues behind the words.

I have every respect for disagreement in ideas but issues should be discussed with logical and intelligent assessment of all the facts and examined carefully, regardless of which side of the political aisle you want to justify and which side you want to vilify. 

An American hero of genuine accomplishment in the area of civil rights, judging people by their character rather than the color of their skin or other physical differences, is the immortal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Dr. King was an American Baptist minister and activist who developed a strong following in a major social movement in the mid decades of the 20th Century.  Known for his influential role in advancing civil rights using his compelling Christian based beliefs and nonviolent civil disobedience. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had seen the peaceful demeanor of a great man before him, Mohatma K. Gandhi, (1869-1948), whose work in achieving justice in India were through his peaceful, non-violent approach and his undaunted will.  

Dr. King was totally committed to peaceful actions in his involvement in such globally notable events as the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott; the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957 and the unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, GA.

n 1963, he organized the nonviolent protests in Birmingham and the march of 250,000 demonstrators to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, where King gave his famous "I have a dream" speech. 

In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and President Lyndon B. Johnson led the passage of the Civil Rights Act prohibiting racial discrimination. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, while planning another national occupation of Washington: The Poor People’s Campaign.

How do ordinary citizens observe Martin Luther King Day? 
News stories indicate that with the day off from work some do volunteer service through their faith congregations or community service groups. Schools use it as an educational opportunity.  Volumes documenting the legacy of Dr. King arouse the keen interest of social historians while impassioning the hope of many and stirring the hearts and minds of others to open themselves to a new clarity of awareness of their own personal biases and sense of social consciousness.  
How about genuinely trying to understand the views of others and the genesis of their idealogies. 
I have not walked in a black man’s shoes but in the quiet of my own space and the privacy of my thoughts, I have searched for a sense of what it might be like to have been born black in this country.
Frankly, what I saw in my mind's eye were realities far too grim for comfort and too sad not to feel the pain for those who could not wake up suddenly be out of their skin.  I confess that on at least one occasion I will never forget, I wept.
In my lifetime, I have seen huge changes in the manifestations of racial prejudice.  I have also witnessed hateful ethnic and religious prejudice and defilement of those outside of our own cultural norms. 
But I've never seen prejudicial attitudes of racism change through continued hate and disdain. Still, I know it exists and it is very real. It is often subtle and outwardly respectful, but in some quarters today, it not only exists but it thrives, growing on the unseen biases of their own culture.  
The softening and gradual diminishing of racism NEVER comes about through violence.Rather, unbridled racism has stained our history with the inhumane treatment of others and in the extreme cases. barbaric genocide.  
Violence exacerbates racism. I don’t claim having the long term nswers to the great social injustices.  But empirical evidence demonstrates that knowing and understanding people of diverse races and cultures, knowing them in schools, the work place, in your every day places, ultimately does lead to the acceptance that we may be different on the outside but that it is our unique identity and character that draws us to a level of comfort and ultimately of deeper respect and friendship for others.

Through the nurturing love of my family, my faith, my environmental heritage and educational heritage, I know one thing for a certainty: The social status quo of tribal based human prejudice is a grossly unacceptable human condition. 
My 2017 resolution is to be a better person. I’ve begun to work at it every day, mindful of it at all times and am prepared to be proactive about it, case by case, incident by incident.

I’m not offering an all-compassing opinion here on all the factors that perpetuate racism. Neither am I sitting around waiting for the often proposed “national conversation on racism” to happen.  Doing one's one part to understand and dissolve the divisions among human beings is far too important for society to wait until someone else fixes all that. 

As to the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, we need to end the grousing and hatred about the admittedly worst presidential election campaign I’ve witnessed since I voted for Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. The Parties must work together in earnest to ensure that we make this nation a better place for every American. We have walked on the moon and sent explorers far into space. Why is this social problem beyond resolution in a free democratic,republic. 

At left, a painting of he Inauguration of the first President of the United States of America, General George Washington on February 4, 1789 within minutes of his election to the presidency with a majority of 69 electoral votes. The place was New York City, the temporary capital of the union of thirteen American states.  

Washington then toured some of the states for a series of inaugural celebrations by the people lasting until April 1969 given the much slower pace of travel in the late 18th Century. 

At left, a photo of the 1997 innauguration of President William J. Clinton as our 42nd president in Washington, DC

This year the nation will celebrate the 55th Inauguration of a President, that of Donald J. Trump, who will be the 45th president of the United States. 

Let the constitution work. Demand that our legislators, elected and appointed officials work for the very best for all Americans through honest cand reasonable civil discourse.   

In closing, I touch in particular on those who judge and mock the inspired love of God and one another as superstition and have declared an open season on religious beliefs.  Let's focus on freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  I do not expect universal agreement on everything, but I declare our civil right to worship as we believe.  

Finally, our country, the longest standing democratic republic deserves our respect and loyalty to this land, our air, sea and sky, the treasured spirit of our patriotism, our flag, national anthem, pledge of allegiance, our brave military personnel and our respect for law and order as the guardian of each of us regardless of race, color, creed or ancestry. In the end, it all comes down to those who are willing to embrace (love) others of good will and peace vs. those who think they have all the final answers.  I hope I know who will prevail.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. monument in Washington, DC
known as the Stone of Hope memorial of master sculptor Lei Yixin was opened to the public in West Potomac Park in Washingon on August 22. 2011,

Let the Dream continue 
"Let freedom ring!"