So it’s not Midnight, but the tired Midnight blogger has decided to crank out something. In honor of the approaching Martin Luther King Junior Day, I’m going to write some of my random thoughts about Henry David Thoreau, his writing, and its influence on Martin Luther King Junior, maybe Gandhi, and my own tired self.
So I read like crazy. My sanity moves and breaths and stands on my capacity to read. Last year I read twenty six books. A book every other week. I don’t know if I can match this number this year, but I hope I can, and I hope I can share my reading, and my thoughts, with the rest of you.
The first shall be last, but I’ve decided Martin Luther King Junior will come first on this post. Well, at least, after the random photo from a random eighties video. Maybe I’ll explain what the video means in the context of the struggle for human rights.
Or maybe I’ll just go to bed.
What can I say that has not been said about Martin Luther King Junior, and been said by better people, more learned people, people who have suffered for their cause much more than I ever have suffered for a cause?
But then again, only my very closest friends and my therapist have the first idea what I have suffered.
— Langston Hughes
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
A fair number of the oppressed think that violence is the answer. Does not a dream deferred explode? I suppose we have to hope that is not always true. At least, the bullies and the abusers, the exploiters and the users, had best hope that is not true…..
Martin Luther King Junior felt that the teaching of Jesus Christ (and yes, Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau, but as a pastor I think it possible his main inspiration was Christ) taught us that when we are struck we should turn the other cheek.
Honestly, I don’t know what I believe any more, but I have to own that I have intense respect for Martin Luther King Junior. I’m a Southern, conservative Republican, I gain little by admitting my admiration for the man. Oh yeah, and I’m white.
But I know what it is to be oppressed. To be insulted. To have someone deny me rights I feel to be God given, and to know that if I dare respond with violence, the only people who will suffer are those that I love.
Before there was Martin Luther King Junior there was Gandhi. He was a mix of all kinds of beliefs, his teachings come almost as much from the Bhagavadghita as from the Bible. But there was a third influencer on Gandhi.
An American Transcendentalist named Henry David Thoreau.
His teachings are of simplicity, of conservation, of self reliance, and of civil disobedience. Ideas that were wildly unpopular in the nineteenth century.
But these ideals were a fundamental part of the very psyche (to merely call them strategies is an insult to all mentioned) of Martin Luther King Junior and Gandhi.
I will explore these ideas further in the days ahead, as I reread Walden, and hopefully also Civil Disobedience.
What do you think? Leave your comments and thoughts, let’s get a discussion going.