Friday, April 4, 2008

In Memoriam...

In memoriam of a great man who had the audacity to hope and to break silence, to speak out for those with no voice and against what was wrong. I memoriam of a man who showed that life lived in contradictions is no contradiction at all, but rather the way we're supposed to live. A man who loved America yet challenged it to become more perfect, a man that was both revered yet deemed a traitor to his country. A man that showed us that dreaming and questioning and challenging is the way to the truth.

It is our duty to not just listen to one speech, but take the man in the full context of his life. To listen to all that he had to say. Read the letters and the speeches that don't make us well up with pride. Be both moved and agitated by what he spoke. Realize that truth is found most often by words and actions that shake us to our core...those that challenge what we thought we knew.

"God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war. . . . And we are criminals in that war. We've committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation. But God has a way of even putting nations in their place...[God will say:] And if you don't stop your reckless course, I'll rise up and break the backbone of your power." -(MLK, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Feb. 4, 1968)

True patriotism comes supporting your country when it lives up to its values and challenging it when it does wrong. True faith comes from this same pattern of awe & doubt.

"Let no one hope to find in contemplation an escape from conflict, from anguish or from doubt. On the contrary, the deep, inexpressible certitude of the contemplative experience awakens a tragic anguish and opens many questions in the depths of the heart like wounds that cannot stop bleeding. For every gain in deep certitude there is a corresponding growth of superficial ‘doubt.’ This doubt is by no means opposed to genuine faith, but it mercilessly examines and questions the spurious ‘faith’ of everyday life, the human faith which is nothing but the passive acceptance of conventional opinion.“ - (Thomas Merton, From New Seeds of Contemplation 1949)

It is our duty to question our actions, challenge our superficial 'faith' and conventional wisdom, strive to become better people and a better nation. Too often people cannot accept this challenge and they seek to strike down those who make us uncomfortable. Too often 'the good die young.'

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