Over the past several days, the news from Gaza has been deeply distressing. A whole series of Israeli-led peace organizations have been among the leaders of those calling on their government to end its siege of Gaza, which is crippling its impoverished population. Such groups as Gush Shalom, Combatants for Peace, the Coalition of Women for Peace, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Bat Shalom, Bat Tzafon for Peace & Equality, and others have spoken out in response to the crisis. They are organizing a dramatic relief convoy which will travel to the Gaza border this Saturday to attempt to deliver humanitarian aid in the midst of the crisis — a cause well worth supporting.
C. Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland County Manager, was the guest of honor and recipient of Nyack College’s 2008 Social Justice Day award last Friday. He was being recognized for his long career of caring efforts for the needs of people of all classes and communities in Rockland County. Given the center seat at the head table, tall and with a strong aura of presence, featured guest, Scott was still humbled and overshadowed by a substitute keynote speaker and the presentation of a token of Rockland County history.
Tonight in Evanston, Illinois, a two-week speaking tour focused on preventing war continues. The title of the tour is "The Iran Talks," and the featured speaker is Scott Ritter, the former U.N. arms inspector who became a strong critic of the Bush administration's buildup toward war with Iraq.
Ritter has been joined on this tour by former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck, the one-time U.S. Mission Chief in Iraq, as well as Jeff Norman, the director of U.S. Tour of Duty. They are visiting a dozen cities around the country to share their foreign policy experience in the light of the prospect for a new, even more dangerous war in the Middle East.
When I was minoring in African American Studies in college, I learned about civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. We were told that he was a close confidante, adviser, and assistant to Dr. King. Rustin was a dedicated and effective organizer, and some accounts even informed us that he was gay and had a history of association with the Communist Party.
What I never knew — until recently — was that he was also the Race Relations Secretary of FOR (from 1945 until he was unfortunately fired when his sexuality was publicly exposed in 1953). And I also didn't understand how important FOR was to informing King's strategies on nonviolent resistance. Here Rustin tells his story:
In August of 1945 I left Lewisburg Penitentiary, where I had been in jail as a conscientious objector. I had gone in to prison in 1942 for three years' term. Given good time, I was able to come out in August of 1945, at which time I went back to work for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, with which I had been associated since 1941. At this time I also was beginning to give a great deal of my time as director of the Civil Rights Department of the Fellowship of Reconciliation ”” FOR ”” to CORE [Committee on Racial Equality].
Every time I come across these principles, it's like I'm seeing them again for the first time. I hope you also find them as revelatory and as inspirational as I do:
King’s notion of nonviolence had six key principles.
First, one can resist evil without resorting to violence.
Second, nonviolence seeks to win the ”˜”˜friendship and understanding’’ of the opponent, not to humiliate him.
Third, evil itself, not the people committing evil acts, should be opposed.
Richard Deats, former executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and editor of Fellowship magazine, called my attention today to the latest column by John Dear — another former ED at FOR — in the National Catholic Reporter. John now travels the world teaching about Jesus' message of nonviolence, and he writes about this message in the context of world spiritual leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thanks to my friend (and fire-breathing progressive blogger) Pam Spaulding for posting 'Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — those other speeches' to remind readers about King's unequivocal message about the injustice of war in his time.
Many of us peace activists are familiar with "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence," delivered April 4, 1967, at the Riverside Church in Harlem. But I wasn't aware of "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam," a sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967.
Read on to listen and read from these speeches.
Hello blog readers, and thank you for visiting us on this very special holiday. Martin Luther King Day is more than a day off, and it's more than a day on, too! This is a day for every resident of the United States to contemplate how much this man and this movement did to save our souls (either spiritually or metaphorically, as you prefer) and how we can work to continue their campaign for justice through nonviolence.
You might not know that Dr King was a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. I am going to write more later today about how FOR staffers Bayard Rustin and Glen Smiley helped King to create the foundation of his strategies on nonviolent resistance and how FOR's work with Thich Nhat Hanh later informed King's views on Vietnam. For now I give you this, Dr. King's 1958 membership application to FOR: