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发布时间:2008-01-13 23:07:57  点击次数:944次    [ 进入论坛]
The Fierce Urgency of Now
Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read: Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.
This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.
April 4, 1967. Breaking the Silence
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are living in a time of great peril and possibility. In 1957,with the Montgomery bus boycott, we embarked on a journey that enlarged the soul of America. We found the courage to question what kind of people we were and the wisdom to change ourselves into a people offering new hope in the world. The struggles of African Americans for full citizenship and dignity inspired more than a half century of progressive movements in the United States and around the world. People long denied and disrespected found their voices in the struggle for citizenship and dignity.

Today we no longer inspire hope in those who have been despised, displaced, and devalued. Instead, we inspire fear, terror and division. More than 40 years ago, Dr. King warned that unless we engaged in a great revolution of values and overcome racism, materialism and militarism, we would be “dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

Now, we face a constitutional crisis brought on by the imperial and arrogant acts of a president who has placed himself above the law, is conducting an illegal war, subverting the constitution, and willfully ignoring a planetary crisis that threatens the future of life on earth. Manipulated by fear and distrust, despair overcomes decency. We are losing faith in our capacity to create the world anew.

Most of us were not among the few who founded this nation more than 200 years ago and who established the political, economic and social patterns that have brought us to this present crisis. But none of us can step back from the responsibility of becoming part of the solution. Because of the struggles of working people in factories and on farms, African Americans, women, Chicanos, Native Americans and immigrants, gay people, youth and the disabled, all of us have a new “burden and responsibility.” All of us have the opportunity to engage in the process of creating a new, more human, more socially conscious, and ecologically responsible nation.

In an equally dark and perilous time, Dr King challenged us to move beyond fear, complacency and indecisions. On a warm night in April, more than 40 years ago he said:

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on. We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action.”

This year, as we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and commemorate the last year of his life, we encourage you to consider his deepest call to the generations to come:

Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message -- of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As we gather to celebrate his life, let us look at the urgency of now: Let us find the courage to confront the questions:

On Peace and War: How can we begin to create peace amidst this war? How do we restore relationships of respect and integrity within the community of nations?

On sustainable living: How do we live more simply so that others may simply live?

On immigration: What do we need to do to protect our brothers and sisters from other lands, who have come to find the promise of America and found the terror of deportation and raids in the night?

On healthy communities: How do we become engaged in our communities to create and restore ways of living that encourage the imagination and productive capacities of our young people?

On justice: How do we guarantee that all of us have the basic human right to education, the sustenance of live, and respect for our work?

Dr. King had faith that if we confronted the questions of our time, honestly, together we would create an America we could all be proud to call our own.

“And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace.

If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

We call on all those who read these words to join with those around you to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday this year with his sense of urgency.
INITIATING SIGNERS: Grace Lee Boggs (Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership); Rachel Harding (Veterans of Hope); Shea Howell (Detroit Summer); ope)Rev.
Nelson Johnson (Beloved Community Center of Greensboro, N. C.); John Maguire (Institute for Democratic Renewal/Project Change); Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez (Tewa Women United); Shirley Strong (Institute for Democratic Renewal/Project Change).

For the Children
By Shea Howell
Michigan Citizen, Jan. 13-19, 2008

Those of us who live in cities like Detroit know something about the erosion of our souls when confronted with violence. On a daily basis we see the shattering of children who see too much, endure too much, lose too much of the safety and security that they have every right to expect from the adult world.

It is because of the children, both here and in Iraq, that we must end this war and repudiate the ways of thinking that got us into it.

Even for a media weary of reporting violence and wary of serious critiques of the Bush surge, the failure to confront the latest reports on the state of Iraq’s children is astonishing. In the midst of the death of Benazir Bhutto and the build-up to the Iowa primary, the media seemed incapable of helping us focus on the catastrophe of Iraq’s children.

Two weeks ago the anti-corruption board in Iraq revealed that 5 million children are now orphaned there. This staggering number of lives fractured by violence was reported after official governmental statistics were gathered and presented at a conference in Baghdad. Moussa Faraj, the anti-corruption board chief, said “The government should set up an institutional or legislative program to help the Iraqi orphans. Iraq is an oil rich country and it is not acceptable that its orphans remain groaning in tragedy.”

The sheer magnitude of the numbers of lives devastated by this tragedy makes it difficult to grasp. It becomes even more difficult to face when we contrast it with the miniscule response to this crisis by the government. Out of the millions of orphans, only 470 children are supported by the government according to Nadira Habib, a member of the Committee on Family and Childhood Affairs in the Iraqi parliament.

Along with this staggering report came estimates of increasing displacement by internal and external migration. In response to the daily violence 25,000 children are forced to leave their homes and move to other parts of the country every month in search of safety. By the end of this year approximately 75,000 children were living in camps or temporary shelters.

For many of these children life is fragile. UNICEF reported that 25 percent of Iraqi children between the ages of six months and five years suffer from acute or chronic malnutrition. One out of three children is malnourished or underweight. It is estimated that 122,000 children died in 2005 before reaching their 5th birthday. The infant mortality rate in Iraq is 125 per 1000 live births, as contrasted to 7 per 1000 in the U.S.

A recent report by Oxfam International says 70% of Iraqis lack access to safe drinking water and 43% live on less than a dollar a day. It estimates that 8 million Iraqis are in need of emergency assistance. "Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter, water and sanitation, health care, education, and employment." "Of the four million Iraqis who are dependent on food assistance, only 60 percent currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 percent in 2004."
Nearly 10 million people depend on this rationing system. In December the Iraqi government announced it would cut the number of items in the food ration from ten to five due to "insufficient funds and spiraling inflation."
This war , this devastation, is a catastrophe of our making. We, the people, have a responsibility to create a government that protects all of our children, both here and in Iraq. The measure of the worth of any policy or person should be how well we meet this sacred obligation.

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