Could Martin Luther King Jr have been more radical?
He departed from organizing the Poor People’s Campaign to support the Memphis sanitation workers, an act of courage and compassion. That’s radical. He was one of the first national leaders to challenge the Vietnam War, radical for sure. And most importantly he was embarking on a struggle to close down federal government until it responded positively to the call for economic and social justice, the Poor People’s Campaign. I’m not sure how he could have been more radical. Let’s recall that he was assassinated—possibly with involvement of the US government if the Memphis trial held a decade or so ago is any indication—as a danger to the empire.
Do you see signs of a national turning, a national movement?
Definitely in the US Social Forum held this summer in Atlanta, drawing over 10,000 grassroots activists, at least 60% of them under the age of 30, a racial and economic mixture unlike anything I’ve witnessed recently. True to form, the media (including the Moyers’ Journal, as far as I know) has not given it much attention. Likewise, for other aspects of national grassroots movements. Another example: a small lay Catholic non-violence community I’m part of in central Massachusetts, Agape. We now draw many-fold more college and university age students than ever before to our retreats, workshops, gatherings, and volunteer opportunities. I suspect Agape is one small example of numerous pockets of significant change.
And finally, where are the leaders?
I’m so pleased Grace answered that essentially they are you and me, not from government and not high profile. The venerated Buddhist monk and poet, Thich Nhat Hahn, has repeatedly taught that the next Buddha will not be a single character, but instead the Buddhist community, the sangha. This speaks to the truth that what we need is not individuation but collectivization.
Thanks to Bill for plunging into tough topics. May he continue for many years. And reach an ever-widening audience.