Posted tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Reverend Lowery’s Moving Benediction

January 21, 2009

Reverand Lowery’s Benediction (transcript, video) on the occasion of Barack Obama’s historic Inauguration lit a fire in my heart and my soul.

The man spoke from his guts. He used straightforward language, and he wasn’t afraid to say what was on his mind. Don’t call him a racist or a man who is stuck in the past; he is a national hero.

A lot of people want to sit on their laurels and celebrate the election of a black man to the highest office in this country. It is a noble accomplishment, and it is something which I hope will be remembered for a very long time. It is something I will tell my children about with pride, and that I will always look towards as a sign of hope and possibility.

But there is still a lot of suffering and discrimination in this world, and in this country. People are put down and kept down for reasons of race, religion, gender, sexuality and creed. Bigotry and hatred persist in this country despite the hard work of men like Reverend Lowery.

There are over 1,000 laws in this country that apply to heterosexual married couples, but do not apply to same-gender couples who are denied the right to marry. Muslim men and women are discriminated, stereotyped and racially profiled everywhere they go. People are judged by the color of their skin, their dress, and their speech. People are not judged by the content of their character.

Rev. Lowery’s words were stirring. He used terms and expressions I would not feel comfortable using, but which he was able to deftly disarm. He was charming, witty, and inspiring. I was lifted by his words like no one elses since Dr. King.

Advertisements

Wanted: Palestinian MLK

January 20, 2009

Today marked the ceremonial celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday. King lead the non-violent civil rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

I have read many of King’s writings, and I can’t stop thinking how much of his message for racial equality in the United States would have applied to what is going on right now between Israelis and Palestinians. His message of hope is something that is still relevant today to people he may never have even thought about.

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing…” (I Have a Dream, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Dr. King is not just inspirational to blacks. He can be important to non-Americans. His message is transferable and translatable. Everyone has something to learn from his empowering message.

The Palestinian people need to find a leader like MLK. They need someone who will speak of tolerance and equality. They need someone who will denounce violence, and promote love and togetherness.

Too many leaders in the Arab world are calling for violence and the destruction of Israel. Some of the things that have happened in the last few weeks have been catastrophic. I don’t blame Palestinians or other Arabs for being angry. I’m deeply troubled by the deaths hundreds of innocent civilians.

But what we can’t do is lose sight of the big picture. For years there have been vocal liberal leaders in Israel that are demanding a swift and peaceful resolution to this impasse. I want to hear a Palestinian leader who is calling for a two-state solution. I want to hear Palestinian leaders calling for the equality of human rights that both Palestinians and Israelis equally share. I want to hear from Imam King.

I have a hope that Barack Obama will do a lot from Washington to finally bring peace to Israel and Palestine, but we need someone on the inside. Today is the inauguration of a new US President, and today is the day for all Jews, all Arabs, and all citizens of the world to stand up and call for a more peaceful tomorrow.