conciousness

Self Forgiveness

Southwest view of the Siskiyou Mountains, Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon.

Southwest view of the Siskiyou Mountains, Rogue Valley, Southern Oregon.

Why I took four months off

I recently made the non-decision to abandon my duties as a blogger and newsletter writer. This can happen to us humans. I wanted to offer my readers real and tangible help and inspiration in the wake of a divisive and polarizing political election. I chose to let my ego hijack a worthy endeavor instead of reaching out to my friends and students. The reasons are these: perfectionism and procrastination.

Perfectionism
The illusion of perfection is seductive and pervasive. This is the slippery slope upon which the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. This is the reason some of us abandon our creative goals and duties and engage in unhealthy wallowing and self-recrimination.

Procrastination
If I don't acknowledge fully that a situation exists, I get the dubious benefit of stasis. I enter into the ever-repeating known, putting off even the slightest progress toward a desired outcome. If I try, I might fail. What does this say about me? Why do I waste time justifying my own behavior?

The Apology
Here it is. I really do appreciate anyone who takes the time to read these newsletters. It is my commitment going forward to knock them out on a regular basis. I fell off the horse. Now I am riding again. I extend my most sincere apologies and pledge to make amends by taking corrective action.

When we fall short, as humans do, we try again. The only sins we are guilty of are lack of forgiveness and the punishment of inertia.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.” 
― Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

The Mosaic House, Venice, California

The Mosaic House, Venice, California

Martin Luther King's Tactics

Civil Rights, Non-violence

King is the only home-grown native son in our illustrious list of heroes, and the most famous in the West, but nonetheless offers us useful lessons.
 
He was a black American leader in an era that saw immense hatred, vitriol, and enmity against his people. In the “Jim Crow South,” prejudice was abetted by the racial scapegoating that bubbled beneath the surface of America’s growing prosperity. Blacks in America fought in the integrated armed forces defending our freedom, only to return as veterans to a lower class status and segregation in their homeland. Post-slavery America was, and continues to be to this day, a white male dominated social structure. In the late fifties and early sixties, this racial tension came to a head.
 
King was inspired by leaders like Gandhi and increasingly employed his tactics in a surprisingly effective fashion. We will focus on the 1955 incident in Montgomery Alabama, the “Montgomery Bus Boycott.”
 
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus. Leaflets were distributed to black citizens calling for a one day citywide boycott of the bus system. This went so well that the leaders extended the boycott. The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church Reverend King was elected president of a newly formed organization, MIA (the Montgomery Improvement Association). He committed to further organize the boycott.
 
Montgomery’s response to MIA demands was to cut service to “most negro districts.” King responded by organizing carpools. Black cab drivers started charging ten cents for rides in defiance of a city enforced minimum of a forty-five cent fare. Throughout this protracted battle, King was arrested picking up riders in his car, received daily death threats by phone, and saw his home bombed. Angry crowds gathered outside his home, but King pled for his followers to adhere to his stated principles of non-violence.

After an intense back and forth debate with city officials over many meetings, the MIA did not concede any of its demands. They lost many battles but ultimately won the war. In the end, Montgomery realized that integration would be good for business. One by one, city officials conceded. Legally, Jim Crow would recede on both a national and a local level. 
 
On December 21, 1956, over one year after Rosa Parks’ arrest, Montgomery City Lines resumed full service on all routes. King was among the first passengers to seat himself in the former white section.
 
King traveled to India in 1959. He met with the Gandhi family, as well as Prime Minister Nehru. Later King preached on the significance of Gandhi’s 1928 salt march and his fast to end discrimination against India’s untouchables. King ultimately believed that the Gandhian approach of nonviolent resistance would ‘‘bring about a solution to the race problem in America’’ (Papers 4:355).*
 
King observed that only by steadfastly adhering to nonviolent principles was real progress toward liberation possible.
 
Be like Martin.