Today I taught Sunday School for the elementary students at our spiritual center. We are participating in an international program called “The Gandi-King Season of Nonviolence: Nonviolent Responses to Terror & Injustice,” which runs from Monday, January 30 – Tuesday, April 4, 2017. The idea is to study the teachers of these two great moral teachers and to apply their wisdom to the problems we face today.
My lesson today was focused on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his use of the philosophy of nonviolence (which he drew in part from Gandhi) in the American civil rights movement. And we had a great discussion about the fact that violence only begets more violence, and the fact that if we seek peace, we can only attain that by being peaceful.
As part of the lesson, I played the students this video (although I only let them listen to the audio, because I don’t think students of that age need any more violent images than they are already exposed t0). It is an abbreviated version of Martin Luther King speaking about the necessity of nonviolence to address the problems of his time–although I would say that is also true of our times. He is such a beautiful, poetic speaker, so I invite you to listen to his words:
What I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE from this is when Dr. King says if he were given any time in which to live, his answer was:
Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, ‘If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.’
Now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding.
If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could see that then, in 1968, when life seemed so threatening to so many people, but particularly to the African American community, then maybe those of us living in 2017 should stop focusing on the our fears and try looking for the possibility during this time of….let’s call it “confusion.” He saw God when many would have only seen conflict, oppression, war, and violence.
Of course, you find what you are looking for….
Let’s look for stars! I certainly found those among my Sunday School class today.