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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:04 PM
Original message
Rainbow Bridge
Nonviolence is an orphan among democratic ideas. It has nearly vanished from public discourse even though the most basic element of free government the vote has no other meaning. Every ballot is a piece of nonviolence, signifying hard-won consent to raise politics above firepower and bloody conquest. Such compacts work more or less securely in different lands. Nations gain strength from vote-based institutions in commerce and civil society, but the whole architecture of representative democracy springs from the handiwork of nonviolence.

America's Founders centered political responsibility in the citizens themselves, but, nearly two centuries later, no one expected a largely invisible and dependent racial minority to ignite protests of steadfast courage boycotts, sit-ins, Freedom Rides, jail marches dramatized by stunning forbearance and equilibrium into the jaws of hatred. During the short career of Martin Luther King, Jr., between 1954 and 1968, the nonviolent civil rights movement lifted the patriotic spirit of the United States toward our defining national purpose.
Taylor Branch; At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-68; Simon & Schuster; 2006.




I like to think about different aspects of the meaning of Martin Luther King's life and death on this day. His assassination in Memphis in 1968 remains connected, to many forum members here, with the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. And both Martin and Robert's deaths took place in that most turbulent of years, 1968.

There are literally dozens of books by and about King, or histories of the 1950s and '60s which include substantial sections about King, on the shelves around me. Today, I will re-read the third volume of Taylor Branch's outstanding history of America in the King Years. Other forum members who have read this important series will appreciate why I selected this book for today's reading. For those who have not read all three of the books, no matter if you were alive in that era or not, they are an intense history detailing how America was changed for the better by the peak years of the Civil Rights movement. The books also suggest options that remain available for further improvement towards the adoption of that orphan of democratic ideas.

One of the most important aspects of these books is the documentation of many of the other people who worked in the movement with King. Though he was a unique figure who played one of the most important roles in our nation's history, and his bravery in his willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs is inspirational, they are best understood in the fuller context of the people and events which surrounded America's Moses, Martin Luther King, Jr. And more: it is actually only from that fuller contextual view that we may be able to move forward towards that higher ground he spoke of in his famous 1963 address in Washington, DC.

There have been, from time to time, a few threads on the Democratic Underground in which one can find acrimonious debate regarding the presidency of Barack Obama. That his election in 2008 was important in the context of that Civil Rights movement is clear. Two good books Jonathan Alter's The Promise and David Remnick's The Bridge make reference to President Obama's election as being part of the Joshua generation. Indeed, Remnick uses John Lewis's January 10, 2009 quote that Barack Obama is what comes at the end of that bridge in Selma, to open his book.

Yet, when we look at the people and current events in today's society, it is equally clear that while we may have safely crossed that Edmund Pettus Bridge, we still face the 54-mile hike to Montgomery. For we are still engaged in the foreign wars that King warned of in his April 4, 1967 speech, clear evidence that those making policy in Washington, DC, have not fully grasped the lessons of that war King spoke of in Beyond Vietnam (A Time to Break Silence). Racism is no longer limited in definition to black and white terms, but has become a multi-colored disease. Forms of sexism have mutated. And the economic inequalities continue to infect the American way of life.

In the months before King's death, there were some in the anti-war movement including factions within the Democratic Party who wanted King to consider running on a ticket to challenge President Lyndon B. Johnson. Some advocated his running on a third-party ticket with Dr. Benjamin Spock; others hoped that he would join forces with Senator Robert Kennedy in the democratic primaries. Those hopes were violently crushed, much like the original protesters attempting to cross that bridge in Selma.

Yet, as William Cullen Bryant said, and Martin often quoted, Truth crushed to earth will rise again. That powerful energy force that made the election of Barack Obama to the most important political office in our country in 2008 should not be viewed as somehow limited to President Obama, the individual. And it should not be allowed to be divided completely along fracture lines between those who see President Obama in an overwhelmingly favorable light; those who think he has done some good, but has much more to do; and those who feel that he has betrayed his promise. For we all inhabit this same land, and it requires our laboring towards those larger common goals we share, in order to reach the Promised Land of peace, equality, and justice that King lived and died for.

The most basic means of nonviolent democratic action is the vote. We may not always agree on which candidate we can or should vote for, and there are even times when people question if their vote counts. It does count, especially when combined with the votes of others who share common interests. The candidate you or I support may not always win; and if they do win, they may not always be able or willing to do what we expect them to. Yet our votes count.

When politicians appear unable or unwilling to do those things we believe are essential to bring about a just society, then we must advocate by means of those public demonstrations, sit-ins, protests, and marches to jail. We are responsible for trying our best to pressure those in political office to do the right thing. We have the tools required to carry on the same types of nonviolent social-political campaigns that those involved in the Civil Rights movement did.

And that, to me, is what this special day means.

Peace,
H2O Man
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Myrina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:33 PM
Response to Original message
1. Lovely essay, but when I saw your title, I thought ...
... that you'd lost or were about to lose a pet. "Rainbow Bridge" is the common term for sending a pet to 'the other side'.

http://www.petloss.com/rainbowbridge.htm

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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:46 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. A great Jimi Hendrix
concert/album, "Rainbow Bridge."
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Godhumor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:51 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. My first though was trying to cross into Canada via the Rainbow Bridge
But that might be a term specific to those in this part of the world.
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tabasco Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 06:35 PM
Response to Reply #5
12. Me too.
Never heard of the pet thing.
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. Or more ancient than that.
In Norse mythology, a rainbow bridge called the Bifrost led to the Asgard, where the gods lived and Valhalla Odin's great hall where the souls of heroes were taken across the Bifrost by Odin's daughters the Valkyrie.
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MiddleFingerMom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:39 PM
Response to Original message
2. Usually a long post will lose me along the way...
.
.
.
...but not this time.
.
.
.
Excellent. And thank you.
.
.
.
And I agree -- change the Subject Line if you still can -- it has another stronger connotation now.
.
.
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Rec'd,
.
.
.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:47 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. I have a dream
that one day, DU OPs will be judged not on their length, but on the content of their characterizations about our republican, and what it stands for ..... er, something like that.

Thanks!
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #9
13. LoL
You are a dreamer, aren't you?

Maybe that is our problem? People have quit dreaming.
MLK had a dream. Everything we know began as a dream.

Or maybe it is that our dreams are not about what is the best for all, like MLK's, but now are relegated to what is best for "me"?

Surely, everybody still has dreams, maybe it's just that our dreams have gone petulant?

H2O, it is good to recognize the vote as real peace, but why do you continue to ignore the truth that our votes are so easily stolen and that is the reason the republicans have so much gravitas?
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 10:15 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. Oh, I absolutely
recognize that our votes are stolen, etc. In fact, I reported -- on this very forum -- about a burglary into Democratic HQs in Pennsylvania during the 2004 presidential campaign. Quoted phone conversations I had with not only campaign workers there, but with the head of the state campaign. That person told me about a series of activities across the country he compared to Watergate.

Thus, you are incorrect about that business. But at least you are consistent -- being wrong about whatr I advocate, and do, you know.

But thanks.
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 10:34 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. 2004?
7 years ago....? I'm talking 2010. I'm talking 2012. About tomorrow.

I have a dream that one day every voter will cause those who count their votes to PROVE that their vote has been counted as cast.

Right now, the vote counters don't have to prove anything.
In fact if you ask them to prove the count they'll tell you to STFU.

That's what I'm talking about. How can you ignore it?
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 10:36 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. You are silly.
So, tell me all that you are doing to make sure all votes are being counted?
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 10:46 AM
Response to Reply #16
17. Plenty
Edited on Tue Apr-05-11 11:02 AM by BeFree
I have badgered my county commissioners, even in public.
Have gone to the election board and complained.
Called state reps and convinced them to get rid of DRE's.
Have spoken to several employee's at election offices and got them to realize the fragility of the count.
Spoken to at least 3 reporters who ended up agreeing the count could be falsified.
Have hundreds of posts in DU's Election Reform forum.
Told my congress critters people about how corrupt the system appears to be.

And talked to hundreds of individuals. (ETA: A few) Who also told me I was silly.
So, thanks.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #17
18. So you have
talked to people, and posted on DU. This is the foundation from which you feel free to post that I am a mere dreamer, and need to wake up to reality.

Gracious.

I've worked with the legal team on the case that F. Lee Bailey called "this century's most important legal saga" in 1991; my contributions were made in the last 13 of the 20-year case, which went to the top of the federal court system. I co-wrote and helped argue the first "test case" of the 1991 federal Native American Burial Protection and Repatriation Act. I worked 20 years on the federal Super Fund toxic waste dumps that served as the test case for the EPA's MSW policy; this included doing research and bringing witnesses to Washington, DC, to meet with EPA and DoJ attorneys handling the case. I've been active in court on several "hate crime" trials. I organized the effort that prevented an abuse of HUD funds which would have resulted in the largest single instance of loss of homes for low-income families and individuals in the northeast. I head up voter education & registration drives in low-income neighborhoods. And on and on.

I also talk to people, and post on DU. And I probably get about the least sleep of anyone I have every known. But I'll try to wake up and follow your bold lead.
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 11:21 AM
Response to Reply #18
19. Competitive is good
Even tho I only know you from DU, I know you have been fighting, at least as much as I.

If only 10 percent of the people did as much we'd all be so much better, eh?

Anyway, the topic was the "vote." Not me, and not you. The Vote, and how it is counted.
I have tracked how my vote has been counted, and I don't like where that track leads.
If you have done the same, then you'd not be calling me "silly", methinks.

Alas, the feedback from all I have talked to is that of feeling that if we can't trust the vote count then all is lost. It is an overwhelming scenario, indeed. And all but the bravest, imo, shy away from dreaming of such a travesty.

And the republicans laugh all the way into office. That's the truth.

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crickets Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:43 PM
Response to Original message
3. Wonderful.
I don't have a reply that could approach your eloquence, so I'll just say: thank you.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 06:13 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. Thank you.
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:55 PM
Response to Original message
7. K&R
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madmax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 01:28 PM
Response to Original message
8. K&R
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Little Star Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 06:26 PM
Response to Original message
11. Peace to you H2O Man. Wonderful post! k&r ......
PS: How I wish I had your gift to write so meaningfully.
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