Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Let Freedom Ring

"We are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Yesterday was Martin Luther King, JR Day. Dr. King was a prophet who spoke to the particularity of his experience and the oppressed experience of his people in the United States. But his words do not just belong to the Civil Rights Movement of the United States. Exactly through his particularity, exactly because he spoke to his small corner of the world, his message has achieved a universality that speaks to everyone, everywhere. And Dr. King paid for his words and his actions with his life. He paid for his cry for justice and nonviolence and recogniition of humanity. He paid, because the adherents to the religion of empire know their enemies. They know those who house events capable of shattering violence, hatred, and exclusive ideologies. Those who can change their situation, and thus the world. Those who sow the seeds of liberation, justice, and peace must be prepared to find a cross, or a bullet, down the road. And even if those seeds may never grow, even if they fall on rocky ground or are choked by weeds, they are still worth sowing and that message is still worth announcing even though it might never be realized. Because "a time comes when silence is betrayal.” Perhaps announcing, and living that announcement, is the fullest realization we can expect. Dr. King walked in the blazing footsteps of the prophets and prophetesses who sang and danced before him. Now, let's go after them.

"I have a dream that one day on the pallid hills of Israel and Palestine the sons of soldiers and the sons of suicide bombers will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood . . .

I have a dream that one day even the State of Israel, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice . . .

I have a dream that one day, down in Hebron, with its vicious settlers, and in Gaza with its rocket-launchers, who all have their lips dripping with the words of terror and expulsion; one day right there in Jerusalem, little Palestinian boys and Palestinian girls will be able to join hands with little Israeli boys and Israeli girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the breath that fills us all shall be revealed, and all flesh shall breathe it together . . .

And if the world is to be healed and made whole, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the ashen hilltops of the occupied West Bank. Let freedom ring from the desert places of the Negev. Let freedom ring from the fertile valleys of the Galilee!

Let freedom ring from the cosmopolitan streets of Tel Aviv!

Let freedom ring from the open-air prison of Gaza!

But not only that; let freedom ring from the fear-ravaged homes in Sderot!

Let freedom ring from the Temple Mount, from Haram ash-Sharif, in Jerusalem!

Let freedom ring from every ghetto and every city in the Middle East. From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every synagogue and every mosque, from every country and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims and Christians and everyone, yes, everyone else, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"


  1. Perhaps it is in the very nature of every "dream" that we must awaken from it to face the reality of a world so far from that which in the depths of our souls we long for, cry out for, and cling desperately to hope for ... a hope that maybe someday ... if only ...

    And our hearts sink as we see, really see, things as they are ... the hatred, oppression, injustice, meaningless suffering, the darkness of the hearts of our fellow human beings (and therefore, of ours)

    And yet, we hope ... if only ...

    Perhaps the very presence of the longing and the dream speaks to a reality that deep within us we know is possible ... things as they should be ... how cruel a trick of the universe if this longing is only a fantasy never before realized and never to be realized.

    If only ...

    Your words, Jonathan, and the dream you dream resonate deep within me and awaken that longing ...

    May it be as you have said ... but until then we dream ... or as someone once said, "we wait in hope"

    Uncle Barry

  2. Thanks for your comment. Most of the time, the dream seems unattainable. Without bogging down the post, I tried to convey that when I said that even if it never seems attainable, we still work and create the space for it to happen. There is a tense coexistence between hope and despair, joy and sorrow. Maybe the only way for these dreams to be realized is to live them, though they are impossible. Maybe because they seem impossible they are made possible, a hopeless hope. But, in my opinion, we cannot sit and wait. I'm not sure anything will be done if we do . . .

  3. Very good post,Jonathan. And I appreciated the exchange between you and Barry. Keep up the good work!