Sunday, January 15, 2012

Here's to Mel White on MLK Day. (Edited)

(This entry has been edited. See below. But the original language is intact.)
Mel White, Soul Force.
I have been enjoying conversation with some political types who are very passionate about their beliefs, that the system needs to be replaced. Interestingly, some of these are hard core right and some are hard core left. I like drifting between worlds. You learn more that way. I, myself, have been called an activist, but I prefer to think of myself, because of my health limitations, a musical tactical support system.

If there's a hospital set up between warring camps, you'll find me at the out of tune piano, singing for the patients.

But in these discussions, too often the talk is violent. The words violent. The anger misdirected to people, rather than to injustice itself. "They are evil" is meaningless in a world where any of us in that position might be acting exactly the same way. Conservative Christians consider this evidence of a fallen world. Naturalists will simply say that it's animal instinct. A distinction without a difference, I fear.

The other morning, one fellow was particularly angry and he was speaking so harshly, I kind of corrected him on having "violence of the tongue" toward his opponents. I sent him to this link, called an Activist Guide, Mel White's soul force.

On this day, celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, I thought it might be useful to bring forward the set of principles of non-violence that guided me when I participated in a March on Lynchburg to stand up against what we believed was an incorrect and damaging image that Rev. Falwell was painting of us.

Looking back, it seems absolutely bizarre. Jerry, at the last minute, refusing us the meal he had offered. Us sitting at round tables for 10, with nothing but bottles of water, interspersed with members of his congregation. I wonder what ever happened to the girl sitting at my table that day? The one who loved her estranged gay brother so much -- "He's the one who led me to the Lord." -- but who felt torn between her angry parents and her resentful brother.

Victims of the culture war.

Mel doesn't get a lot of attention. He is a humble, kind man. His work synthesizing the principles of Gandhi and King to create "Soul Force" is an outstanding achievement.

That some activist group furthered his work is a testament to his devotion to justice and his Christian faith.

EDIT UPDATE

This essay has been criticized by people from both the right and the left. Someone on the right said that I was playing the victim card, especially using language like "culture war," etc. And someone from the left agreed with him that in using this terminology as a metaphor for what is, essentially, social and political differences, I was cooperating with war.

And, you know what? I totally agree. Now, should I change the essay above or just let this edit speak for itself?
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