Monday, January 15, 2007

Brother Martin

It's been a horribly busy day but I am remiss in not posting some small tribute to Reverend Martin Luther King. I was born in the south and raised in the south and I am white and raised protestant. I was born in 1949 so I was growing up in the late 50's and early 60's when the message of Martin Luther King was changing our nation. I remember the marches and the singing on the courthouse steps and I remember the forced integration into my school.

Unlike many of my generation I cherish the experience of growing up in the south when the revolution was happening. The experience added to who I am today. I am a progressive liberal and firmly believe that everyone has the right to an even break. No one should be sidelined because they were born in the wrong neighborhood or the wrong color or to the wrong parents.

I have traveled many paths in my fifty some years and strayed wildly from my conservative upbringing as a good Presbyterian. I have spent years trying to grasp the message of the varied religions and philosophies of the world. One of the most important things I have learned is the tragedy of fear. As Frank Herbert said in the Dune novels "Fear is the mind killer." Fear destroys everything positive in this world and it is the one true evil that we all must face and conquer.

If there has been nothing else that has come from my wandering through "Chapel Perilous" is that it is crystal clear that religious conservatism and political conservatism share one overriding characteristic in common. They share fear. They are afraid of everything. They fear change, progress, love, equality, freedom of choice, and everything else that contributes to a full and happy personality. They seem to have found some refuge in feeling miserable and afraid. They have found their sorry version of happiness in denial and fear of new and different. What's worse is that they see it as their mission in life to make everyone else as miserable as they are and afraid of everything.

This is where Martin Luther King comes in. Nothing scared the religious right and conservatives more than the great progressive Martin Luther King, who faced them down peacefully and with grim determination. The courage of Martin's message was categorically opposed to everything they believed. Why, if African Americans could overcome the fear and prejudice and segregation, then what was to stop everybody from believing that "liberty and justice for all" applied to them also? Martin spread the message that fear and oppression were not the be all and end all and that love and peace had an ordained place in this world. Martin preached and taught that fear is the mind killer and has no place in a proper and progressive society.

Thanks, Reverend King for making it so.

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