Tags: Body & Mind, human rights, Society, Spirituality
On the day the United States celebrates civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday it was actually on Jan. 15, it’s well worth revisiting some of the most famous quotes King—arguably one of the greatest orators of the 20th century—made during his lifetime.
“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” — From his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in Stockhom, 1964.
“I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” — From a speech in Detroit on June 23, 1963.
“…And I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.” — Part of a speech in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — From “Letter from Birmingham Jail” April 16, 1963.
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” — From a sermon he delivered in 1956.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.” — From his 1963 book, “Strength to Love.”
“We all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. … And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct. It is a good instinct if you don’t distort it and pervert it. Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.” — From “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Feb. 4, 1968.
“The darkness of racial injustice will be dispelled only by the light of forgiving love. For more that three centuries American Negroes have been frustrated by day and bewilderment by night by unbearable injustice, and burdened with the ugly weight of discrimination. Forced to live with these shameful conditions, we are tempted to become bitter and retaliate with a corresponding hate. But if this happens, the new order we seek will be little more than a duplicate of the old order. We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.” — From “Loving Your Enemies” delivered at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama on Nov. 17, 1957.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state, sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.” — From “I Have a Dream” delivered at the Lincoln Memorial on Aug. 28, 1963.
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” — From “Strength to Love,” 1963.
Tags: CCP, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
‘Prisoner of the State’ remembered for courage, sacrifice
Eight years after the death of Zhao Ziyang, the former Chinese premier and General Secretary of the Communist Party who resigned after the Tiananmen Square massacre, hundreds of mourners flocked to his house to pay their respects.
This year, in stark contrast to years past, authorities didn’t try to stop the mourners.
On the early morning of Jan. 17, mourners from all walks of life who came to pay their respects swarmed to No. 6 Fuqiang Alley in Beijing, the house of Zhao Ziyang at the time of his death.
There have been police cars and guards on duty outside the residence, but visitors were not stopped.
“This year, I directly feel more people coming, apparently more, the yard crowded with visitors,” said Wang Zhihua, husband of Zhao’s daughter Wang Yannan, to Voice of America.
Li Huanjun, a human rights activist in Beijing, agreed, adding that, “a crowd of them left, immediately followed by another crowd. I estimated there were hundreds of them; many of them had left before my arrival.”
Remembered for Sense of Humanity
Among this year’s mourners was Hu Jia, a democracy activist who was sentenced to three and half years in jail in April 2008. He was charged with “subverting state power,” a vague charge that is roughly equivalent to what used to be called “counterrevolutionary activity.” Hu stayed under house arrest for two years after his release from jail. This was his first visit to Zhao’s house in five years.
Hu said Zhao chose human nature over “Party nature” at the critical moment, aware of the price he would pay, in reference to Zhao’s attempts to head off the massacre of students in 1989.
Hu said he deeply admired Zhao for his courage. Though current leaders are not directly responsible for the Tiananmen massacre, they still belong to a privileged class, said Hu. He doesn’t think the privileged leaders will have the wisdom and courage to change the reality of one-party dictatorship in China.
He said, “We can’t wait. We must do it.”
There is no hope for reform from above, in his opinion. “Change is never granted by the Communist Party. It’s all about how many rise up, how many awaken to the dictatorship and fight back,” Hu said.
Bao Tong, Zhao’s policy secretary who is still under house arrest, said though he is unable to pay his respects to Zhao in person, he never forgets the anniversary.
Bao said Zhao was different from others because he treated human beings as human beings. Other party leaders treated humans as tools, puppets, labor, or military forces. As for resolving or redressing the Tiananmen massacre, he said, it’s not just the responsibility of Party leaders, but is the responsibility of every Chinese person.
Jiang Blocked Funeral
After Zhao’s death on Jan. 17, 2005, party officials consulted their superiors about Zhao’s funeral.
Leaders, like National People’s Congress Chairman Wan Li, Qiao Shi, and Tian Jiyun, vice chair of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, asked the central leadership to hold a state funeral for Zhao Ziyang appropriate to his rank, according to Di Suo, wife of Hu Jiwei, the former president of People’s Daily. The central leadership wanted to hold a formal funeral for Zhao, but former party head Jiang Zemin opposed it.
Under pressure, Party head Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao gave up on honoring Zhao.
Jiang feared the June 4 event would be reevaluated.
Jiang and Li Peng, who was nicknamed the “butcher of Beijing,” made the decisions for June 4 1989.
After the Tiananmen Papers were published, Jiang and Li forced every member of the Politburo to take a stance on the June 4 event, and to pass a resolution that promised that the June 4 event would never be re-judged.
In the period following the massacre Jiang, hands covered with the blood of the Tiananmen students, rose from Shanghai Committee Secretary to the highest level of power in the regime.
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Tags: Body & Mind, Children, health, IT and Media, psychology, Society
The noise the first student is referring to is the background noise of television, radio and music, plus a multitude of social media and online curiosities. And the silence the second student refers to is a world devoid of such background noise.
Drawing on six years (2007-12) of observations from 580 undergraduate students, it can be reasonably argued that their need for noise and their struggle with silence is a learned behavior.
The desire for media-generated background noise is acquired more from parents and grandparents than from my students’ new-found relationship with social media.
To that extent, Larry D. Rosen’s excellent advice on how teachers can address student social media anxiety – such as by introducing one-minute technology breaks–shouldn’t be confused with issues surrounding the same students’ need for background noise.
With obvious exceptions, mum and dad also inherited this need for background noise: “My grandparents have the television on practically all the time in the background”, observes one student.
It is not surprising then when another writes, “the television was switched on by my parents earlier in the morning for the news and left on … even when no-one was watching”.
For all but one of the 580 students, television and radio was in the home prior to their birth. For most students, the family home also had at least one computer before they were born. Indeed, this year we had our first student that can’t remember her family’s first mobile phone.
Beginning at infancy, the constant media soundscape has provided the background noise either side of bassinet, kindergarten, school and university. It is little wonder many of my students feel agitated and ill-at-ease when there is not at least one portal providing background noise.
Such background noise speaks to Bill McKibben’s observations of the Third Parent.
More often than not, a student’s third parent (whether that be analogue or digital media) speaks to them more often than their biological parents. As one participant noted, “the noise of the TV and the communication on Facebook helps me feel more in touch with people”.
By and large my students report they can’t function in silence. As one explained, “I actually began doing this assignment in the library and had to return to my room minutes later to get my iPod as I found the library was so quiet that I couldn’t concentrate properly!”
It’s not just the silence of a library that students report as disturbing. Having gone home to the farm, one student observed how she found it hard to walk down to the dam without an iPod.
When the students were provided with the tools to reflect on their media consumption they began to recognize the nature of background noise. Having filled in their spreadsheets, they were asked to spend one hour walking, sitting and/or reading in a quiet place. This is the moment in the assignment when students tend to discover their relationship with silence:
“The lack of noise made me uncomfortable, it actually seemed foreboding”, observed one student. Another said “perhaps, because media consistently surrounds us today, we have a fear of peace and quiet”.
Could it be that it’s the background noise and not the discrete content of each media portal that creates the perception of well-being my students write about?
Either way, it’s clear that students (and doubtless many others) have become accustomed to the background noise that’s become such a feature of modern life.
So what about you: are you scared of silence?
This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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