musings of wanderlust and such...

Monday, January 18, 2010

thinking about martin

This morning I awoke with a heart full of thankfulness and a mind in deep reflection. It is the national holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- a day of remembrance for the spokesman for civil and human rights, the advocate for an end to discrimination, the preacher, teacher, prophetic voice lost in August 1968 to one who believed he (or they) could silence a vision, a people, a movement, a dream.

Dr. King spoke of many social and political concerns facing the nation and the world at the time -- war, morality, disenfranchisement, the "unchecked cancer" called hate, "the curse of poverty" -- that were best summed up on August 28, 1963. That day in Washington, DC, before hundreds of thousands from all walks of life, he called for racial equality, for "judgment" based not upon the color of our skin but by "the content of [our] character." The speech, called "a speech of rhetoric" by conservatives past and present, established a benchmark for the country if we were to truly become united.

As I consider the hurtful words spewed by Pat Robertson last week regarding the earthquake in Haiti and subsequent loss of thousands of human lives (words not far removed from those he spoke of with regard to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005), I am profoundly more aware of how far we have come as a nation, and how much further we still have to go.

When I was a child we use to say "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me." But as I became older and conscious of the world around me, I learned that was not true. One word however that communicates both power and oppression is freedom. Freedom is a core value written in many documents and a key component of various sacred texts. While sometimes misused, it is a word and a principle I love.

Freedom is religious liberty, freedom is a right to love and to marry whomever one chooses, freedom is a livable wage. Dr. King once wrote, "There is nothing in all the world greater than freedom."

The images ingrained in my memory from early childhood of the violent deaths of Dr. King and the Kennedy brothers taught me the price that could be paid by those who believe in freedom so deeply that they live on the front line in the fight to secure that precious gift and blessing for others.

Today, as I celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am also aware of the approaching one-year anniversary of Barack Obama's inauguration as the nation's 44th president and the first African American holder of the country's highest office. I remember the celebration of that landmark and the genuine happiness shared by most Americans. But this new picture of America in the 21st century was met with fear and resentment by the political and religious leaders who use race, hate, homophobia and xenophobia to advance a narrow, manipulative "wrong winged" agenda.

I remain hopeful, and thankful, for the opportunity to fight for change... for freedom. As a favorite song of mine goes, "It's been a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come. Oh yes it will."

One day we will all be judged by the content of our character. In the meantime, I thank those who carry on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy in the fight for freedom, justice and equality for all. As the late Senator Edward Kennedy once said, "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." Happy Birthday Dr. King!

Thank you, and Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Sincerely,
Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of African American Religious Affairs - People For the American Way
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Yes, Happy Dr. King Day everyone.

Monday, May 18, 2009

President Obama speaks at Notre Dame

Have you heard of the stir about Notre Dame's decision to invite the President to deliver their recent commencement address? Although not significant enough to make the world news out here, apparently it created quite a media commotion stateside. I really enjoyed listening to his speech, the impressive composure under pressure was only surpassed by the content, depth of character and profundity of conscious. If you haven't already heard it, watch below on the 4 embedded videos. I was really impressed by the way he confronted some very difficult and complex issues and (my opinion) graciously found the common ground that our nation needs in order to move forward with these issues. I would really enjoy and appreciate hearing your opinions and perspectives on this speech... if you can find the time. Please comment!

Part 1 of 4:

Part 2 of 4:

Part 3 of 4:

Part 4 of 4:

Friday, May 15, 2009

thanks wayman

you might not have been following or even heard the news of jazz musician and former NBA star wayman tisdale's bout with bone cancer. this ESPN video is a touching and fitting memorial to his life and legacy... he will be missed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bless us with tears...

Of all the tremendous aspects of these last few weeks, here is one I'd like to share with you. As many of you know, the Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly Gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, gave the opening prayer at yesterday's Lincoln Memorial event. It was the first event in the inaugural festivities this year. HBO, which had paid for exclusive rights to the event chose not to broadcast Bishop Robinson's prayer. So if you watched there you wouldn't have caught it or even known that it occurred. NPR didn't air it either. There was no record of it in images placed on the sites of Getty Images, New York Times and the Washington Post. It was as if it never happened. But it is a prayer worth hearing, or at least reading.


Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Delivered by the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson:

"Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God's blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic "answers" we've preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be "fixed" anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion's God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln's reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy's ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King's dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters' childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we're asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

AMEN."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

tastes of italy

i think you can view some of our photos from our recent trip to italy... it was a sensory smorgasboard! click here to view photos. in other exciting news, congrats to marisa and joe!! the newest scionti has arrived, NICHOLAS JAMES appeared at 7:13am on saturday... way to go guys!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

yes we can!

i'm still in disbelief. i keep looking at the vote tallies and watching the speeches but i can still hardly believe it's true. i continue to be struck by obama's humility and profound sense of direction and leadership. i'm proud that my country elected him to be our next president, and i'm hopeful that he will conquer many of the great challenges that lie ahead in unraveling the mess of these last 8 years. in other good news, michelle and i are starting to make plans to move back to the USA... most likely at the end of our contract in 2010. :) lots of love from russia...

ps- anyone in the states that wants to put aside some memorabilia from this historic event, that would be great! there aren't many obama shirts/posters/newspapers floating around moscow, and i'll be sad if it's all disappeared in december.

YES!

Friday, October 31, 2008

go vote!

greetings from italy! michelle and i are having a lovely time eating and enjoying all that this fine country has to offer, currently visiting our friend amy in florence. i'm proud to say that i voted last week, mailing my early ballot to the registrar in arizona. for all of you reading this blog from the states, please remember to vote next tuesday... it's no mystery that our country needs new leadership and this is the people's time to make its voice heard. did you watch the television program that barack obama aired on primetime last week? watch it here, it is so worth it! do you still have unanswered questions about the candidates or how their 'plan' will improve your lives? after all the campaigning, probably not... but feel free to post your questions/thoughts here or ask me directly. we'll be back in moscow next tuesday. that will be an exciting day for sure.