Monday, July 11, 2005


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Since I was discussing Henry David Thoreau & his essay " ON CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE "; I want to move on to the leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the 1950s to the late1960s Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-1968) .

Here is what King thought of Thoreau:

Martin Luther King, Jr., Acceptance Speech at Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony, 10 December 1964

"I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest." - Martin Luther King, Jr

And on non-violence & the influence Mahatma Ghandi had on him Dr. Martin Luther King JR. said:

"Prior to reading Gandhi, I had about concluded that the ethics of Jesus were only effective in individual relationships. The "turn the other cheek" philosophy and the "love your enemies" philosophy were only valid, I felt, when individuals were in conflict with other individuals; when racial groups and nations were in conflict, a more realistic approach seemed necessary. But after reading Gandhi, I saw how utterly mistaken I was.
Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale. Love for Gandhi was a potent instrument for social and collective transformation. It was in this Gandhian emphasis on love and nonviolence that I discovered the method for social reform that I had been seeking.
I do not want to give the impression that nonviolence will work miracles overnight. When the underprivileged demand freedom, the privileged first react with bitterness and resistance. Even when the demands are couched in nonviolent terms, the initial response is the same. So the nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally, it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality. "

"Nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later, all the peoples of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."

From the website;
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project
A collection of primary and secondary documents pertaining to Martin Luther King, Jr., held at Stanford University.
"Pilgrimage to Nonviolence."

Here is a little bio of Dr. King:

1956-62 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. establishes himself as the national leader of the civil rights movement, leading boycotts and staging protests against segregation in the South.

1963-65 Voting rights becomes the focus of King and other civil-rights leaders. They organize protests across the nation, bringing more attention to their efforts - and more violent responses from opponents.

1966-68 King's opposition to the Vietnam War makes headlines while his battle for civil rights continues. But on April 4, 1968, an assassin's bullet ended his crusade.

from the Seattle Times July 9, 2005

And as Professor Melvin Sylvester of Long Island University puts it as he praises Dr. King as a great American:

" In his short life, Martin Luther King was instrumental in helping us realize and rectify those unspeakable flaws which were tarnishing the name of America. The events which took place in and around his life were earth shattering, for they represented an America which was hostile and quite different from America as we see it today.

Martin Luther King, Jr. catapulted to fame when he came to the assistance of Rosa Parks, the Montgomery, Alabama Black seamstress who refused to give up her seat on a segregated Montgomery bus to a White passenger. In those days American Blacks were confined to positions of second class citizenship by restrictive laws and customs. To break these laws would mean subjugation and humiliation by the police and the legal system. Beatings, imprisonment and sometimes death were waiting for those who defied the System.

Black Americans needed a Martin Luther King, but above all America needed him. The significant qualities of this special man cannot be underestimated nor taken for granted. Within a span of 13 years from 1955 to his death in 1968 he was able to expound, expose, and extricate America from many wrongs. His tactics of protest involved non-violent passive resistance to racial injustice. It was the right prescription for our country, and it was right on time. Hope in America was waning on the part of many Black Americans, but Martin Luther King, Jr. provided a candle along with a light. He also provided this nation with a road map so that all people could locate and share together in the abundance of this great democracy. "

See website:
A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Long Island University professor examines the impact of King's life on all Americans. Includes images, chronology of King's life and lengthy bibliography.

On Mahatma Ghandi see:

MKGandhi, mahatma, Philosophy, non-violence, photographs of mahatma gandhi,

Mahatma Gandhi Album: Gandhi: A Biography
... debt to the teachings of Christ and to the 19th-century American writer Henry
David Thoreau, especially to Thoreau's famous essay "Civil Disobedience. ...

More on Mahatma Ghandi later.

Anyway bye for now,

Thursday, July 07, 2005


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All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.

"Under a government which imprisons any unjustly... the true place for a just man is also a prison."

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

It seems only fitting to mention Thoreau after talking about Sir. Bob Geldof & his organizing LIVE8 with the intention to make world hunger & third world debt a priority for world leaders taking part in the G8 summit in Scotland this week. Thoreau argued that unjust laws & policies of a government should be resisted through non-violent means of Civil Disobedience to bring about the desired changes. He argues that such resistance is the right & the duty of the individual.

Below are some bits gleaned from the website THOREAU READER:

"Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) exerted a profound, enduring influence on American thought and letters. His famous experiment in living close to nature, and his equally famous night in jail to protest an inhuman institution(slavery) and an unjust war(the Mexican-American war), are distilled in his best known works, Walden and "Civil Disobedience."

Thoreau's elevation of conscientious integrity in an era of social conformism, his passionate opposition to the institutional degradation of human life and values, and his enduring literary production as an author, public speaker, and natural scientist — all expressed in a distinctive prose style at once classic and personal — place him at the heart of the era now known as the American Renaissance.

Almost buried beneath the weight of Thoreau's status as a literary classic and popular icon is an extraordinary wealth of thought and insight for people today. The philosopher Stanley Cavell writes that Thoreau's achievement "is still, if one can imagine it, not fully recognized." And literary scholar Lawrence Buell predicts that Thoreau will be "an even more luminous and inspirational figure in the 21st century than he has been in the twentieth."

" Thoreau's essay "Civil Disobedience", although it is seldom mentioned without references to Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King jr. " has more history than many suspect.
In the 1940's it was read by the Danish resistance, in the 1950's it was cherished by people who opposed McCarthyism, in the 1960's it was influential in the struggle against South African apartheid, and in the 1970's it was discovered by a new generation of anti-war activists. The lesson learned from all this experience is that Thoreau's ideas really do work, just as he imagined they would."

"when, in the mid-1950's, the United States Information Service included as a standard book in all their libraries around the world a textbook of American literature which reprinted Thoreau's 'Civil Disobedience,' the late Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin succeeded in having that book removed from the shelves — specifically because of the Thoreau essay." - Walter Harding, in The Variorum Civil Disobedience

Below is an excerpt from Thoreau's essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
[1849, original title: Resistance to Civil Government]

" I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe--"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse commitas, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others--as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and office-holders--serve the state chiefly with their heads; and, as the rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the devil, without intending it, as God. A very few--as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men--serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it.

From website:
Thoreau Reader
Readable online editions of Thoreau’s works, some annotated, with an introduction to Thoreau, images, essays etc.
updated july04,2005


Monday, July 04, 2005


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Here is the statement by Sir. Bob Geldof about the aims of LIVE8-The Long Walk To Justice:

"This is not Live Aid 2.

These concerts are the start point for The Long Walk To Justice, the one way we can all make our voices heard in unison.

This is without doubt a moment in history where ordinary people can grasp the chance to achieve something truly monumental and demand from the 8 world leaders at G8 an end to poverty.

The G8 leaders have it within their power to alter history. They will only have the will to do so if tens of thousands of people show them that enough is enough.

By doubling aid, fully cancelling debt, and delivering trade justice for Africa, the G8 could change the future for millions of men, women and children."

The aim of LIVE 8 - THE LONG WALK TO JUSTICE as presented here by Sir. Bob Geldof is an attempt at a more fundamental change of attitudes & ways of dealing with the poorest nations in the world & of taking more concrete steps to alleviate poverty around the world rather than merely raising money for the temporary relief & aid for these poorer nations & peoples. This is a much better approach to these global issues than that of the Live Aid project of 1985 which was a good beginning but did not address the long term issues of poverty in the Third World such as debt relief ,trade imbalances etc. This time the organizers of LIVE8 are on the right track. If you haven’t signed up to support this initiative I urge you to consider doing so ,it is not too late. This time hopefully more people will stay committed to this cause for the long term since the pressure must be kept up on the G8 & other organizations & governments til these reforms are enacted.

"If everyone who wants to see an end to poverty, hunger and suffering speaks out, then the noise will be deafening. Politicians will have to listen."
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu
This is the quote used in a letter sent to me after I signed the petition from campaign HQ of MAKE POVERTY HISTORY.

Here are some related websites:

To sign up go to http//

Live8 website

G8 Information Centre
University of Toronto

Canada’s G8 Website

Africa Calling at Live 8 at the Eden Project