If there ever were a clear showing of how violence breeds violence, we have just seen it.
The murder of police officers in Dallas was despicable.
And every murder of a Black man or woman by police is despicable.
And we will not cure the one until we cure the other.
As murders from Ferguson to Staten Island to Baton Rouge to Minneapolis gave rise to fear and rage, it was more and more likely that some few would let their rage boil over into murder.
And I can hear the cries from some politicians hovering in the air, ready to descend: More contempt, more humiliation, more hot lead must be poured upon the powerless. Violence breeds violence.
Black Lives Matter. AND Blue Lives Matter. AND Green Lives Matter.
It does not detract from the horror of police killings of Black men and women -- a form of terrorization -- to say that the killing of police officers by snipers –- a form of terrorism – also matters.
And the choking to death of a Black person in police custody – “I Can’t Breathe!” -- grows, not lessens, in importance when Mother Earth herself is choked.
Choked in the custody of Corporate Carbon Pharaohs -- Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Unnatural Gas. When Mother Earth herself cries out “I Can’t Breathe.” When children plagued by asthma from coal dust and oil-refinery fumes cry out, “We Can’t Breathe!”
These forms of violence are interconnected.
Treat people with brutality and cruelty long enough, and some will respond with indiscriminate terrorism.
At some point the ethical and spiritual wisdom of all our traditions, of an Amos and a Jeremiah, a Jesus and a Buddha, a Badshah Khan and a Gandhi, a Mary Dyer and a Martin Luther King and a John Lewis and a Sojourner Truth, will stop convincing some who marinate in fear and curdle into rage.
We are approaching the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s great “Riverside Church” speech against the murderous US War in Vietnam (April 4, 1967) and then the 50th anniversary of the murder of Dr. King, our quintessential preacher of nonviolence (April 4, 1968).
The history of top-down violence by America the Powerful –- against Africans where violence took the form of enslavement, and Natives where it became or verged on genocide, in the Philippines, in Central America, in Vietnam and Iraq where it shattered whole nations – has run like a bloody thread through the whole history of a nation that has once more celebrated, once more proclaimed that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights – to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is long past time to atone. With inner moral truth and eco-social transformation. With prayer and action.
The Shalom Center has proposed that we make the year from April 4, 2017, to April 4, 2018 – the year of Dr. King’s most difficult struggle and of his death -- into an American Jubilee Year of Truth and Transformation.
A year of confronting what Dr. King in his Riverside Speech called the deadly triplets of Racism, Militarism, and Materialism. What makes these three not merely three, but triplets? Like triplets, they share the same DNA. The DNA of subjugation. domination, greed for power and wealth, contempt for others and especially The Other.
From Riverside Church in New York City to the US Council of Elders to multireligious groups in Boston and Southern California, we have already found resonance for this seed of a decent life, sown into a graveyard of our grief. See our proposal on our Home Page at https://theshalomcenter.org
We started sowing these seeds on a shoestring – on one thread of a strand of a shoestring. We sowed the seeds, beginning without the resources and the money that are necessary, because we knew the Year of Truth and Transformation was necessary. We implore you for your help to nurture these seeds. Please – please!! – click on the maroon Contribute button on th left-hand margin, and write “MLK + 50” in the “Honor of” space.
We all need to do this work. But without your help, we can’t.
With blessings for Truth and Transformation -- Arthur