Posts Tagged ‘Peace’

Violence, violent rhetoric and Dr. King

January 17, 2011

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we honor today, was the target of violence and violent rhetoric.  In 1956, his home was bombed.  He told of his reaction in Stride Toward Freedom.

kingml.testamentI could not go to sleep. While I lay in that quiet front bedroom, with a distant street lamp throwing a reassuring glow through the curtained window, I began to think of the viciousness of people who would bomb my home. I could feel the anger rising when I realized that my wife and baby could have been killed. I thought about the city commissioners and all the statements that they had made about me and the Negro generally. I was once more on the verge of corroding anger. And once more I caught myself and said: “You must not allow yourself to become bitter.”

I tried to put myself in the place of the police commissioners. I said to myself these are not bad men. They are misguided.

I would not have had the strength to do what Dr. King did.

Advocates of peace and reconciliation are sometimes described as weak and naive.  But after all, it was Dr. King’s nonviolent struggle, not the guns of the Black Panthers, that ended segregation by law in the United States.  It was Dr. King, not Malcolm X, who faced down police and Klansmen, who triumphed over governors and presidents.

Dr. King is the only 20th century American whose birthday is a national holiday.  And it is a true holiday.  We Americans, and not just black Americans, really do honor his memory.  But it is easier to honor him than follow his example.

(more…)

“Jews and Muslims”: an e-mail chain letter

June 14, 2010

Some friends of mine last week forwarded me an e-mail chain letter that evidently has been making the rounds for many years. It is entitled “Jews and Muslims” and begins by saying that Muslims want to wipe Jews off the face of the earth. Then it goes on compare the number of Nobel Prize winners of Muslim vs. Jewish heritage (about 100 times more Jews than Muslims) and concludes by saying Palestinian Arabs can have peace any time they want just by laying down their arms.

My response is as follows:

One. There are more than 1 billion Muslims in the world, and among them are to be found all kinds of people, good and bad, and many different points of view. I don’t think the Muslims who participate in interfaith dialogues with Jewish congregations here in Monroe County, N.Y., want to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth. I am aware that many Muslims, especially in Arab countries, refuse to recognize the government of Israel, but that is a different thing. The United States for many years refused to recognize the government of China,, which in my opinion was a mistake, but that didn’t mean that Americans wanted to wipe the Chinese off the face of the Earth.

Two. I admire the Jewish people for having developed a culture that has produced so many outstanding people in the arts and sciences. But do you want to know another ethnic group that has produced more than its share of Nobel Prize winners? The Germans. Even people who belong to nations that have contributed greatly to world culture are capable of doing bad things.

Three.  There are two sides to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and we Americans generally only hear one side. It is as if all our news of the conflicts that formerly went on in Northern Ireland and South Africa consisted of reports of terrorist atrocities committed by the Irish Republican Army and African National Congress, all attributed to an irrational hatred of Protestants by Catholics and of white people by black people.

I do not, of course, justify acts of terrorism, no matter who commits them.

(more…)

Iraq invasion, seventh anniversary

March 17, 2010

Two friends of mine, Hal Bauer and Hank Stone, have been taking part in a peace vigil every Sunday – rain, shine or snow – which began immediately after the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. This coming Sunday their vigil will mark the seventh anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

The vigil is sponsored by Peace Action and Education, an affiliate of Metro Justice; Rochester Against War; Progressives in Action; and Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace. Hal tells me they haven’t changed their anti-Bush signs because, as far as they’re concerned, President Obama’s policies are merely a continuation of President Bush’s.