Nearly 49 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told a crowd of more than 3,000 people at Riverside Church in Upper Manhattan that “a time comes when silence is betrayal.”
Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.
During his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, King outlined a five-point plan for the American government to untangle itself from the war that had been going on for more than a decade. He also spoke about the injustice of black and white soldiers fighting side-by-side more than 8,000 miles away from the U.S., where they would not sit together in the same school, and how America’s occupation of Vietnam destroyed families and villages—“their two most cherished institutions.”
Early on in the speech, King said that he felt compelled to break his own silence and address those who questioned the “wisdom” of his “path.” ‘Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?’ ‘Why are you joining the voices of dissent?’ ‘Peace and civil rights don’t mix,’ he said, quoting his detractors during his talk.
And while King’s message is prescient today, at the time he was publicly criticized for the speech, denounced in 168 newspapers the following day and disinvited from a White House visit.
Time has shown that peace and civil rights not only coexist, but depend on each other. King’s words are particularly powerful less than a week before Donald Trump will assume the presidency, reminding us that it is our responsibility to speak out against government policies that we disagree with and not to be “mesmerized by uncertainty.”
In this spirit, and in honor of Black History Month, Tricycle is presenting a special video series throughout February called “Teachings for Uncertain Times” on our blog, Trike Daily. The videos are free to watch.
The series has been organized along with Vimalasara (Valerie) Mason-John, chair of the Vancouver Buddhist Center, and features 13 teachers of color who will give the following dharma talks:
- Jan. 29: Vimalasara (Valerie) Mason-John on the barriers that people of color face when entering the Buddhist path
- Feb. 1: Tuere Sala on the power and importance of community
- Feb. 3: Larry Ward on seeing America’s racial karma as samsara
- Feb. 6: Mona Chopra gives a Black Lives Matter lovingkindness meditation
- Feb. 8: Myokei Caine-Barrett on the concept of ichinen sanzen—3,000 realms in a moment’s time—as a foundation for healing
- Feb. 10: Mushim Patricia Ikeda on why now is the time to practice and “dig in”
- Feb. 13: Viveka Chen on cultivating a strong sense of purpose
- Feb. 15: Dawa Tarchin Phillips on developing trust despite cultural differences
- Feb. 17: Ruth King on exploring the relative reality of racial distress and how to polish the third jewel—sangha
- Feb. 20: Ven. Pannavati Bhikkhuni on celebrating our connectivity through inner conviction
- Feb. 22 Lama Rod Owens on recognizing our intersectionality, or different identities
- Feb. 24: Rev. Dosung Yoo on understanding non-self as people of color
- Feb. 27: Kaira Jewel Lingo on using the dharma to address habits inherited from our ancestors
Please enjoy a sneak peek of the series below, and be sure to tune in:
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