Saturday, January 18, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy in Cuba

Love and Responsibility
Martin Luther King Jr. and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. never set foot in Cuba but his example inspired generations of activists who continue to work for a better tomorrow on the island. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 in his famous I have a Dream Speech explained in powerful terms the importance of the now and the dangers of gradualism:
"This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."
Rev. King  was born 85 years ago on January 15, 1929 and lived a life of service for his fellow man and woman while resisting racism, poverty and war. He sought to make real the beloved community viewing it as an obtainable and realistic goal.

Listening to Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas's widow, Ofelia Acevedo, speak of King's nonviolent legacy and how it inspired her and her husband to also dream and work for Cubans to enjoy a better tomorrow is a moving experience. Following the brief interview she pulled out a copy of the 1990 Christmas Message of the Christian Liberation movement written by Oswaldo Payá where he put on paper his dream:
"The rifles will be buried face down, the words of hatred will vanish in the heart without reaching the lips, we'll go out into the street and all of us will see in the other a brother, let us look to the future with the peace of he that knows that he forgave and he that has been forgiven. Let there be no blood to clean or dead to bury, the shadow of fear and of catastrophe will give way to the reconciliatory light, and Cuba will be reborn in every heart, in a miracle of love made by God and us."
Both Martin and Oswaldo gave their lives in the cause of justice, dignity and peace becoming martyrs of nonviolence . Their good works live beyond them and have positive repercussions today and will continue to in the future. Michael Nagler, a long time peace scholar, presents the theorem as follows: Nonviolence sometimes “works” and always works, while by contrast, Violence sometimes “works” and never works.  Nagler offers a more detailed explanation.
The exercise of violence always has a destructive effect on human relationships even when, as sometimes happens, it accomplishes some short-term goal. The exercise of nonviolence, or Satyagraha, always brings people closer. This explains why Gandhi, after fifty years of experimentation in every walk of life, could declare that he “knew of no single case in which it had failed.” Where it seemed to fail he concluded that he or the other satyagrahis had in some way failed to live up to its steep challenge.  Taking the long view, he was able to declare that “There is no such thing as defeat in non-violence. The end of violence is surest defeat.”

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