Monday, January 16, 2006

One more in the name of love

Thanks to friends in Atlanta and Birmingham I have toured key sites in the history of the civil rights movement in the USA. I was reminded of these travel experiences today since it is Reverend Martin L. King, Jr. Day (national holiday) in the USA. Reverend King's namesake "Martin Luther" was of course an even greater reformer of the Catholic Church but as a think tank associate of mine reminded me "Father Luther" (we say Pastor Luther in the Lutheran Church) never actually left the Catholic Church when he launched the Reformation. I raise this historical point to note that Reverend King never "left" American society but he reformed it from within via passive resistance techniques (e.g. economic boycotts, sit ins, etc.) inspired by Mahatma Ghandi's resistance to British imperial rule in India.

Luther, Ghandi, King -- these were all reformers who transformed their societies (with global impact) to provide greater individual empowerment, economic opportunity (think "religious litmus tests" for example"), and ultimately a reduction in violence caused by the police state created by the incumbent authorities (the Pope, the British Empire, and the WASP establishment).


"Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude." Alexis de Tocqueville

During my flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina last week I was reminded of yet another "reformer" (but here I mean "mass murderer" not reformer in the tradition of the leaders mentioned earlier) who died on December 23, 2005. This person was -- Yao Wenyuan -- the final survivor of the Gang of Four in Red China whose obituary was published by the Dallas Morning News on January 7, 2006 which I read on my flight through Dallas. If you don't know already here is a quick reminder that the Gang of Four were the people that led China's "Cultural Revolution" from 1966 to 1976 with Chinese leader -- Mao Zedong's -- blessing. The Cultural Revolution can be summarized as the "purging of moderate (Communist) party officials and intellectuals in Chinese society........" via imprisonment, harassment, or simply via state executions/assassinations which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Chinese simply because they did not agree with, or were deemed not loyal enough to, the party manifesto.

Yae Wenyuan was quoted during his trial after Mao Zedong's death (when the Gang of Four lost their political power) as saying -- "Why can't we shoot a few counterrevolutionary elements? After all, dictatorship is not like embroidering flowers." Given today's American fear of "outsourcing all of our jobs to China........ (hey, wasn't it Japan that scared the hell out of us in the 1980's but somehow we survived!!) this 10 year period of Chinese history is worth studying to better understand the need to promote an open dialogue with China based on free trade.

Remembering Reverend King today is an appropriate reminder of the American civil rights movement. As I sit here working today on this national holiday I can't help but think that while such holidays are sometimes little more than another vacation day for our overpaid local, state, and federal bureaucrats but let me offer a "glass is half full" observation. Perhaps I should celebrate the fact that such national holidays offer greater personal freedom than other days of the year simply because the bureaucrats are NOT working to generate more rules and regulations to tax away our incomes and freedoms ever more.

My tribute to Dr. King pales in comparison to the band U2's tribute so let me offer their words for your consideration:

Pride (In The Name Of Love)
by U2
One man come in the name of love
One man come and go.
One man come he to justify
One man to overthrow.

In the name of love What more in the name of love.In the name of loveWhat more in the name of love.

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed up on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss.

In the name of loveWhat more in the name of love.In the name of loveWhat more in the name of love.

Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky.
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride.

In the name of loveWhat more in the name of love.In the name of loveWhat more in the name of love. In the name of loveWhat more in the name of love.In the name of loveWhat more in the name of love.

March for freedom,


1 comment:

Dicki said...

Todd, Y'all come to Birmingham and we can see the jail where King wrote the famous letter. The civil rights museum is amazing. One volunteer is James Armstrong, the father of two of the first five blacks integrated in BHM public schools. We can walk King's and Shuttlesworth's paths and see the sites of bombed churches and burned white buildings/businesses in retaliation. Montgomery and Selma are a short distance away to stand on the corner where Miss Rosa was arrested, to walk across Edmund Pettis bridge, see the Brown chappel where voting rights marches were planned, the road where Miss Liuzo was murdered, and the famous 16th street Baptist Church. The hoses and dogs were made infamous right across the street. Quite the reality check.