Paul Dekar's blog
I write on the cusp of a new year. Married 44 years ago on New Year’s Eve, my wife, Nancy, and I are generally in a mood to celebrate. However, this year, I am worried.
Since 1998, I have spent over sixteen months in Australia, studying and writing on a truth and reconciliation process that included a parliamentary vote that backers hoped opened a new chapter in the country’s race relations. On February 13, 2008, lawmakers unanimously passed an apology read by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on behalf of all Australians.
In 2008, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and Colombia totalled more than $1.3 billion. Canadian merchandise exports to Colombia totalled $703.8 million in 2008; major exports include agricultural goods such as wheat, barley, and lentils, as well industrial products, paper products, and heavy machinery. Canadian merchandise imports from Colombia totalled $643.7 million in 2008. Major imports consist of coffee, bananas, coal, oil, sugar, and flowers. For details, click here.
For two weeks, eight of us are part of a delegation in Colombia organized by the Bogota office of the Fellowship of Reconciliation: Brandy Bauer, a native of Virginia presently living and working in Denmark; Joe de Raymond and Sarah Snider of Freemansburg, Pennsylvania; Kelly Dowdell of Calgary, Alberta; Ivan Kasimoff of Los Angeles, California; William Northrup of Nashville, Tennessee; Adrian Martinez Valencia of Las Loma, El Salvador; and me, hailing from Dundas, Ontario, and currently serving as the chairperson of FOR's National Council. During our first days we are learning especially about the local context of issues under discussion in North America, such as the Free Trade Agreements signed by Canada and the United States, and the proposals related to locating U.S. military forces to bases in Colombia.
This week, on April 1st, I ran a great conference at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, titled MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: THE MAN, THE MESSAGE, THE MOVEMENT. It was co-sponsored by the Memphis Theological Seminary, where I have taught for many years, and the University of Memphis's Department of Communication. The excellent event featured two keynote speeches: one was titled "I'm Happy to Be Here Tonight: King's Final Speech and the Rhetoric of Hope," delivered by Dr. Frank Thomas, pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church; the other was "Remember King in Memphis" by Dr. Maxine Smith. What a privilege to help host this event in the city where King died forty years ago tomorrow.
Today I delivered a paper at another conference in Memphis on Dr. King's life and legacy. Given my close connection and commitment to the Fellowship of Reconciliation (I currently serve on FOR's National Council), and the fact that Dr. King was himself on FOR's Advisory Council at the time of his death four decades ago, I thought FOR members might appreciate this commentary.