Today is Martin Luther King Day! Well, it’s his birthday today, and the bank holiday is on Monday the 18th. I’ve taken this amazing painting at Notting Hill Carnival, either last year
or the year before – if anyone knows who painted it, let me know, I love it, it’s amazing! We all know he had A Dream, but few of us might know how hard he worked for it, and how wide-ranging and far-reaching his thoughts and actions were, how interesting and revelatory he is to read and re-read. To have a dream is to have a vision, and that’s what we need for human progress towards justice and liberation: yes, until justice rolls down like a river -, instead of rivers running dry all the time. We need fluidity! So justice also means fluidity, to not have to feel stuck due to structural disadvantages such as ongoing forms of racism and its derivatives such as gender, nationality, immigration, language, religion, sexuality and so on. Racism is usually the hardest and primary form of discrimination because economic and psychological systems have been built on it for centuries. At the same time it can be an invisible phenomon, due to silence, silent consent and/or unconscious and subliminal patterns – which are often most pronounced in those who do not fall victim to it, or who see its derivatives as divorced from racism. As MLK said, all ‘communities and states [of being] are interrelated’. That interrelatedness of all of us is important: “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”(MLK). So interrelatedness is also an aspect of mutuality! “Whatever affects one of us directly, affects all indirectly” (MLK): so do not assume that the recent great actions of BlackLivesMatter do not matter to all of us! “An individual has not started living until he can rise above’ the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity” (MLK). So we cannot just be egotistical, that’s unsustainable – we have to be interested in one another, in one another’s existence, experience and situations, and listen to what we don’t know. And violence is never the answer because it doesn’t work, because “violence and civilization are antithetical concept” (MLK) and: “It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence but between nonviolence and nonexistence” (MLK)
So this is a strategy to become truly alive! We may sometimes feel this is too tedious or too difficult or too far removed from our experience or too big a task. Whichever the case may be for us with our different experiences, expectations, assumptions and sensitivities. MLK mentioned how his dream was not easy. He mentioned his ‘shattered dream’ in his Letter from a Birmingham jail and he encouraged us not to give in to both the ‘valley of despair’ and the ‘mountain of despair’ in his I have a Dream speech. We need a dream, a vision for living and against injustice (racism and its numerous manifestations, i.e. economical, psychological – and derivatives, i.e. gender, nationality and ‘other’ forms of otherness etc). We may have to learn how to become sensitive to it, learn how to identify it, to attune ourselves to ourselves and one another, to be alert and alive and free! To be! u.t.