Mahatma K Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr

Mahātmā Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Born: October 2, 1869

Assassinated: January 30, 1948


Martin Luther King Jr.
Born: January 15, 1929
Assassinated: April 4, 1968

 

by Rick Bretz

Throughout history, public figures or groups use violence  to replace diplomacy and negotiation to achieve righteous.  Whether it is to silence people who disagree with your view or achieve power through the physical taking of land, or other means of wealth that translate into control and authority, it usually results in innocent lives being destroyed or disrupted.  Today is a good day to look at two individuals who went a different route.

Today is Martin Luther King’s  Birthday Memorial Holiday.  He tused many strategies in fighting for civil rights including borrowing some of Gandhi’s beliefs in his effort to gain independence from colonial rule.  They both were assassinated and were also effective speakers and leaders.

Gandhi

The movie Gandhi is one of my favorite autobiographical cinematic experiences due to Ben Kingsley’s perfect pitch portrayal of the man.  What I find most interesting about the movie is how Kingsley embodies Gandhi’s non-violent protest ideology.  Two particular scenes strike me as brilliant in showing this.  The part where Gandhi sit in front of large mass of fellow Indians and tells then how exactly they will  fight the English government.  The other scene is Gandhi’s Salt March in protest to salt taxes and prohibition of making salt.  It’s a simple protest but highly effective.  Gandhi’s effectiveness can be partly attributed to media and the world wide press publicizing his actions, protests, prison sentences and ultimately his successes.

The Philosophy

noun: ahimsa

  1. (in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain tradition) the principle of nonviolence toward all living things

 

Ahimsa also has a more spiritual meaning than the physical refraining of no violence.  The word also refers to transcendental philosophy of not bringing into your thoughts or mind any violent thought to anything in nature, man, woman, animals or any living being.  It’s on a deeper level than physical.

In the movie, he is sitting almost in a prone position on a stage inside a valley surrounded on all sides by British soldiers.  Following the ideals of Ahimsa or non-violence,  Gandhi called on his fellow Indians to resist colonial rule by “Quitting India”, avoid paying taxes, do no patron government offices, do not buy goods brought here from Britain but all the while showing respect for soldiers and the police force.  The act of not hitting back when you are being arrested or beaten enabled the movement to get positive press.  The Quit India speech as it is known today called for passive resistance in order to obtain certain goals,

Notable Links:

http://www.mkgandhi.org/speeches/speechMain.htm

https://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/society/5-famous-speeches-of-mahatma-gandhi

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4954/What-Does-Ahimsa-Really-Mean.html

https://www.gaia.com/article/practice-ahimsa-everyday-life

Gandhi and his political partners earned their independence from colonial rule.  This success led to other issues with different religions and the fighting that resulted in the deaths of Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims  across the country.  A resentful Hindu extremist took Gandhi’s life.  The internal strife eventually resulted in the formation of Pakistan and India who both now have nuclear capability.


The Civil Rights Leader

gty_march_on_washington_martin_luther_king_ll_130819_16x9_992

Treating people as you would like to be treated with respect and dignity would seem to be innate in all of us.  However, people have a lottery aspect to their lives–new born babies can’t choose their parents. The nature versus nurture brings to each of us the history and prejudices of the family and the geographic culture.  Martin Luther King Jr was trying to change that or least make his audience think twice.  When he spoke on television, radio or on grand stages in person, he wasn’t just talking to his core audience, he wanted to reach his shadow listeners to make them think twice about the future and kind of America and Earth we should all inhabit.

Martin Luther King Jr was a magnificent speaker.  This ability to motivate his followers and galvanize people to march, ride buses and stop at walk in to segregated bus stops,  sit in, eat at a segregated restaurant, be subjected to prison sentences while not fighting back will always be remembered.  His words during some of his famous speeches are for all time.  The “I Have a Dream Speech” entered our history on August 28, 1963 and has many famous lines in it as his voice thundered across the Washington, DC Mall.

Quotes from “I Have a Dream Speech”

“Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

Notable Links:

http://www.thekingcenter.org/about-dr-king

http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/king/aa_king_subj.html

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/i-have-dream-address-delivered-march-washington-jobs-and-freedom

Summary

Featuring these two significant people in history during times when people want to bomb, kill, maim  and destroy because people disagree with their views is all the more important.  All sides can agree or disagree but there is one idea we should all agree on–treat people with dignity and respect and as Martin Luther King Jr said judge people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

 

Book Recommendation: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

by Rick Bretz

The United States has always had issues with the Middle East.  For that matter, so has the rest of world.  Some of the issues are due to conquering and occupying nations and their policies but a majority can be traced back to dictator egos and their need for flaunting power. The fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I created many problems as well.

Middle_east

The United States has had problems with that region from the beginning.  Presidents George Washington,  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson dealt with pirates, hostage takers and terrorist  demands for ransom.  This reality forced them to make difficult decisions so that the nation could build itself into a stable group of unified state governments with a federal power structure to deal with foreign policy and constitutional issues.

The troubled violent Middle East history as it pertains to the United States begins with the Tripoli Pirates and continues to this day.

A list of Middle East issues is a long one:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_modern_conflicts_in_the_Middle_East

http://www.economist.com/node/1922472

http://www.globalissues.org/issue/103/middle-east

Thomas Jefferson book cover

The Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger book, Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, covers just one of the issues the United States had to solve at the start of the 19th Century.  The subtitle, The Forgotten War That Changed American History, makes a point that the Tripoli Pirate issue is largely buried or glossed over in history books but remains significant concerning the rest of world’s outlook toward the then young country of the United States of America.  The book tells the story about four Muslim countries extorting the United States by capturing ships and enslaving the crews until a ransom was paid by the United States government.  Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis, and Morocco saw the kidnapping and ransom process as their religious right to capture vessels on the Mediterranean high seas to fill their financial coffers.

George Washington and John Adams tried to use diplomacy while they were building a Navy and a nation while paying back war debt to countries supporting the colonies’ war for independence. As a secretary of state and diplomat, and Vice President during those years, Thomas Jefferson had seen how diplomacy never worked. It was this experience dealing with the pirates that compelled Jefferson to send the US Navy’s recently built warships to the Middle East for a blockade.  The Barbary Wars and the outcome sent a message to the world that the young country of the America would defend itself if needed.  This sent the country on a journey where its elected leaders had a say on the world stage, and later used to full effect by President Teddy Roosevelt.

CONCLUSIONS

The book does a good job of writing about the courage of the captured ships’ sailors held in prisons.  It also tells the story of Lieutenant Stephen Decatur’s night raid and General William Eaton’s five hundred mile march from Egypt to the Port of Derne for a surprise attack by US Marines. The result of this became a well-known line in the Marine Corps Hymn, “From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli.”  All together now!  This book is worth reading because the authors describe the difficulty of beginning a new nation, building a Navy, and defending America’s prestige on the world stage while keeping government politicians contented back home.

From the early 1800 Tripoli Pirates, the United States has dealt with a number of Middle East issues including, regime changes, oil embargos, Palestinian/Israeli conflicts, The Yom Kippur War, the Iraq invasion of Kuwait, the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan, The Iranian Revolution, government-funded terrorism, and many others.  The Middle East and each administration’s malleable foreign policy that goes with dealing with this region, as well as the United Nations attitude toward Israel compared to the surrounding countries, is a nightmare that keeps coming back when you want to get a good sleep.  In this case the nightmare has lasted more than a couple hundred years.

 

Notable Links

https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/war_peace/middleeast/hcentury.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Middle_Eastern_history

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/globalconnections/mideast/timeline/text/time2.html

http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/asia/middleeast/metimeln_ext.htm

http://www.timemaps.com/history/middle-east-3500bc

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/target/etc/modern.html

http://www.varsitytutors.com/earlyamerica/early-america-review/volume-6/terrorism-early-america

https://www.cpj.org/

https://www.change.org/p/president-obama-support-the-righttoreport-and-protect-journalist-rights

http://gwpapers.virginia.edu/history/topics/gw-and-the-barbary-coast-pirates/

http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/287

https://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/first-barbary-war