Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the self

self portrait The language we use, the language we hear and read, the language we have become accustomed to is constantly being remodeled. And as this remodeling reshapes our day to day jargon, there are those who embrace it and others who look upon it with trepidation. Words that we once used in conversation before have either died out for lack of use, such as ‘thou”, while other words have been altered, such as ‘television’ is now simply ‘tv’. Quickly finding its way into our vernacular is a whole range of creative words mostly due to new technologies and ideas. Selfie, a more recent addition in English, was retailored from “self” to give rise to its meaning….the ability to instantly snap a picture of one’s self. And with this technological advancement, for surely it would be rather cumbersome to take a selfie if we had to prepare a tripod every time we had a whim, along with this adapted self-portraiture, comes the instantaneous ability to declare its arrival to the world.

The concept of self portraiture is not new for as long as there have been artists there have always been portrait painters. However, what is different in the twenty-first century is technology and its dominant place in all societies. Regardless of which hemisphere you live in, we have accrued a most powerful set of tools. Powerful in the sense that some may believe it has transformed much of society into being quite self-indulgent; self-absorbed, self-centered, and perhaps narcissist.

Harsh words… well perhaps, though words that should not be directed only towards the present for humanity has always taken a liking to itself. Perhaps the “selfie” today is yesterday’s “mirror”. Perhaps our inventive technology has been able to just magnify what we already suspected about society, perhaps technology is presenting us with a faster and closer look at what was always there; perhaps we are getting the same images of mankind and womankind now as ‘close-ups’ rather than ‘landscape’.

After all, are we so much more different than our ancestors? I suppose there is something to that old adage… “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…”

mlk Today’s blog brings back a very great individual, the esteemed thinker: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968); a man widely regarded as America’s paramount advocate of nonviolence. Through his use of the words and acts of nonviolent resistance he was able to achieve seemingly-impossible goals. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and social activist who led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. In 1964 King received the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person ever to receive this high honor. At the young age of 39, he was tragically assassinated, leaving behind a forever grieving nation.

I now offer to you a moment of time to read the words of a most honored man. From his Sermon Delivered in 1957 at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, “Conquering Self-Centeredness”…I present to you Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“…An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.

Life has its beginning and its maturity comes into being when an individual rises above self to something greater. Few individuals learn this, and so they go through life merely existing and never living. … They start out, the minute you talk with them, talking about what they can do, what they have done. They’re the people who will tell you, before you talk with them five minutes, where they have been and who they know. They’re the people who can tell you in a few seconds, how many degrees they have and where they went to school and how much money they have. We meet these people every day. And so this is not a foreign subject. It is not something far off. It is a problem that meets us in everyday life. We meet it in ourselves, we meet in other selves: the problem of self-centeredness…

And the way to solve this problem is not to drown out the ego but to find your sense of importance in something outside of the self. And you are then able to live because you have given your life to something outside and something that is meaningful, objectified. You rise above this self-absorption to something outside… This is the way to go through life with a balance, with the proper perspective because you’ve given yourself to something greater than self…”

First image: A.K. Kuznetsov, standing inside greenhouse with a tripod-mounted camera, as seen through his reflected image in a mirrored sphere, ca. 1885.

Esteemed thought: Peace… if not now, when?

Today’s blog is a thought; a sigh of words to be scattered and retrieved; an invitation for the undertone of the day…
I give to you my poetic rendering… Peace; if not now when?

*****

Esteemed thinkers: Voices of Peace

Reelfoot Lake State Park, Tennessee Onomatopoeia is a funny sounding word, a poetic device used by writers when they craft their work. For those who may wish for a reminder definition: onomatopoeia are words used to imitate natural sounds such as hiss, splash, and bang. Most of us use them in our conversations such as, “I drizzled sugar over my cereal.” Drizzle is our onomatopoeia.

Let us take a look at the word Peace…in English the c in the middle of the word is soft as compared to the hard c in the middle of the word chocolate. They both conjure up positive images (unless you are not a fan of chocolate) yet the latter does not sound like what it is; a most delicious flavor. On the other hand the word Peace, with its soft c at the end almost tries to extend itself a little longer than many other words, as though it were a breeze although rallies us like a hurricane. (Say it aloud and you’ll see what I mean.)

Is Peace an onomatopoeia? Perhaps not by formal rhetorical rights however, I find myself justifying it as such. For me Peace sounds like what it denotes, yet sadly it is not always fulfilled within the constraint of its meaning. It is often presented as lovely as a delicate flower in a bud vase, but then too often maligned, misused, abused, mangled, lied to, and toppled without regard to its heirs and heiresses.

Today’s blog is devoted to Peace; dear to all man and womankind. Many esteemed thinkers have offered us their words… here is just a mere sampling of their wisdom.

window “For it isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” Nelson Mandela

“The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war”. Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” Baruch Spinoza

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” Albert Einstein

“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” Buddha

“Only in freedom is permanent peace possible.” Jane Addams

Einstein on the Heirs of the Ages

arch “Previous generations were able to look upon intellectual and cultural progress as simply the inherited fruits of their forebears’ labours, which made life easier and more beautiful for them. But the calamities of our times show us that this was a fatal illusion. We see now that the greatest efforts are needed if this legacy of humanity’s is to prove a blessing not a curse. For whereas formerly it was enough for a man to have freed himself to some extent from personal egotism to make him a valuable member of society, to-day he must also be required to overcome national and class egotism.

Einstein on peace

peace “The importance of securing international peace was recognized by the really great men of former generations. But the technical advances of our times have turned this ethical postulate into a matter of life and death for civilized mankind to-day, and made the taking of an active part in the solution of the problem of peace a moral duty which no conscientious man can shirk. One has to realize that the powerful industrial groups concerned in the manufacture of arms are doing their best in all countries to prevent the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and that rulers can achieve this great end only if they are sure the vigorous support of the majority of their peoples. In these days of democratic government the fate of the nations hangs on themselves; each individual must alway bear that in mind.”