Quote by Aberjhani with original digital MLK poster: “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was a manifestation of hope that humanity might one day get out of its own way by finding the courage to realize that love and nonviolence are not indicators of weakness but gifts of significant strength.” --Aberjhani
Different roads provide diverse routes to freedom. For many, the path is an interior one. It first requires an individual to the clear from the landscape of inner beingthose areas overgrown with woody thickets of doubt and trauma or buried beneath swamplands of self-imposed limitations.
There are others––like the Americans who struggled for civil rights in the 1960s, and citizens of the Middle East and various African countries currently battling for basic human rights–– who take a more public journey to freedom. Their sense and experience of liberty is defined by interaction with the external dictates of history, evolving cultural persuasions, and dominant political trends. Individuals such as these inspired the article Text and Meaning in Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech.
Whether the journey is undertaken within or without, the impulse to demand, claim, and exercise freedom ––not just as a politicized human right but as a fundamental tenet of human existence–– is as automatic as gulping air when first leaving the womb. It therefore is not particularly surprising that the King Center in Atlanta has chosen to conclude its 50th anniversary commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech with a “Let Freedom Ring” international bell-ringing event at 3 p.m. on August 28.
“We are calling on people across America and throughout the world to join with us as we pause to mark the 50th anniversary of my father’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech with ‘Let Freedom Ring’ bell-ringing events and programs that affirm the unity of people of all races, religions and nations,” said King Center C.E.O. Bernice A. King in a news release from the Center.
When considering in 2013 the horrendous number of people who have died in Syria’s civil war over the past several years, those who have lost their lives to domestic gun violence in the United States over the past several decades, and writers and artists who are persecuted daily in different countries for “speaking truth to power,” the idea of ringing bells in the name of freedom might strike some as ludicrous. It is, however, this insistence upon liberty in the face of weighted oppression that has always given self-determination its strength and value.
Freedom rings bells because throughout history silence has too often served as an accomplice to genocide, slavery, and other forms of barbarity.It rings bells to remind humanity that the most precious gifts in life––like children and love and time––must never be taken for granted. Freedom rings bells to wake us from the comfort of beautiful dreams and empower the efforts that turn them into reality.
At the heart of Creative Thinkers International’s operational philosophy has always been a core belief in the ability of positive creativity to help inspire nonviolent conflict resolution. This is not a romantic notion; it is a crucial alternative.
The blood-and-bone-splattering spectacles of war have come to command most news headlines in the modern world. The maniacal brutality that was 9/11 engraved in the world’s collective consciousness themes and realities intensified by perpetual chaos, terror, and death. It is a chilling prospect, and yet an observable phenomenon, that humanity at this point in history too often defines itself by how efficiently it destroys itself.
Love, it seems, is valued most when violence or disease threaten to annihilate the life that would serve as a channel for it. Men and women discover the deeper nature and beauty of their characters by exposing them to man-made insanities that threaten not only human beings, but the nonhuman forest-, ocean-, jungle-, and mountain-dwelling species that also call the Earth home. Such an inclination is not one that supports notions of sustainable communities or advances based on peace rather than war.
That very dangerous realization is an extremely important one to note. The reason is because the natural and social forces that combine to compose what some call “the human story” are developing in such a way that, like it or not, more and more people you may once have thought of as strangers or foreigners are now becoming neighbors, co-workers, classmates, bosses, employees, and in-laws. Between extreme weather events and more prolonged climate transformations, plus cross-cultural merging caused by man-made atrocities and inter-cultural interactions facilitated by advances in technology, the boundaries that once defined notions of community are dissolving as steadily as shelves of ice breaking off the Antarctic.
Cultural migrations and evolutions are not new. Some have occurred because of genocide or war, such as the almost two million refugees who have fled the pandemonium in Syria to resettle in Turkey and other neighboring countries. There is no shortage of examples of people who have escaped persecution in one nation to rebuild lives in another. There are also opposite examples: such as those African-Americans who left the American South, and natives of the Caribbean who ventured forth in the 1910s and 1920s to settle in New York and other areas of the Northeast and Midwest. It was their hunger for opportunity and adventure that launched the Harlem Renaissance.
The Talk in 2013
In 2013, a lot of talk in the United States focuses on shifting demographics. Commentators point out the increasing business and political savvy of women, the more expansive and inclusive values adopted by the Millennial Generation, Gays’ non-retreating battle for marriage equality, the increasingly diverse population of the United States, and the borderless connections made possible by social networks.
Creative Thinkers International stepped out ahead of the crowd and the curve when the community formed in September 2007. Members then and now recognized that whatever barriers had restricted practices of cooperation and communication in the past need not do so in the future. As with the tumbling of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the time had come to work around divisiveness rather than maintain monuments to hopelessness.
Whatever tomorrow does or does not bring, the artists, authors, teachers, poets, photographers, mentors, videographers, students, and creative others who comprise this online village will always be able to take some pride in knowing one particularly important thing. At a time in history when so many in the world chose to exhibit the worst of what human beings might become, they at least tried to demonstrate the very best of what human beings might become.
29 May, 2013
Contemporary award-winning author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.