It is sometimes difficult to walk a path of peace and still stand in the face of overwhelming opposition. Most men and women will, at some point, crack and either give up or lash out. While unfortunate, it is the nature of the human species as an animal. We strive to overcome what is “hard wired” into our systems, the flight or fight reaction left over from our ancestors. While this has enabled the species to survive, it is by no means the pinnacle or stopping point in our development. The ability to conceptualize the unseen, to dream, to know there is better than what our eyes present is the path that many follow. For some, this path is through religion. For others it is science and humanism. Even the hermits and monks of many traditions, sealing themselves off from the outside world, are following a path towards development.
Over the course of centuries and millennium, there have been teachers that have come and gone. Setting aside the debate of religion for a moment, teachers such as Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, and Mohammed brought to their respective people the concept of stepping beyond that earthly bounds and reaching for the stars.
Some say that these teachers come once in a lifetime, if that. These enlightened beings came back as shepherds, boatmen, and kings to guide others along the path of development. Others, men and women who are the great teachers of our time and others, strive to reach that point. Many have taken the steps to askew things such as violence, riches, envy, jealousy, etc. They have worked towards harmony in such a way as to leave an indelible imprint on the fabric of society. Ghandi, King, Mother Theresa are just a few of these names.
Over the next 4-5 days, we in the United States celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, one of these visionaries of compassion, harmony, and simplicity. While he stood as a Southern Baptist minister, he did not feel that the totality of humankind was wrapped up in the strictures of dogma of that sect. He fought for the basics of human rights, for harmony among the groups, and for peace in his lifetime.
A new page at the top of the Retreat contains the full text of Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Delivered 50 years ago today from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, it gave hope to a generation of people that we could as a community come together and stand as one.
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