Local Martin Luther King Day Speech
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami , 2002-01-18
Bodhinatha give his final speech that he has prepared for the coming Martin Lurther King Day. Since the September 11 events, people are distrusting others. That leads to hatred and a desire to inflict violence. Education will fix the problem. Southern Poverty Law Center, http://www.splcenter.org/ distributes literature about tolerance and a pledge of tolerance.
As most of you know, we have been invited to participate in the island's celebration of Martin Luther King Day on January 21st, as one of the Churches representing a major faith on the island, Hinduism. So I thought I would begin by reading the short talk I prepared for that event, because most of you won't be there.
When we reflect on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, we of course think of the Civil Rights Movement and the success of the movement's efforts to eliminate racial discrimination laws in the United States. Unfortunately though, racial discrimination still exists in the United States. Not in the form of laws but, in the form of attitudes. This problem is not simply a national one but a global one as well.
One of the consequences of the September 11, terrorist attacks was increased media coverage depicting people in a number of countries that strongly hate the United States, some to the point of wishing violence upon it. Watching these shocking reports on television, we cannot help but be impressed by the extent and seriousness of the problem of prejudice. Attitudes of prejudice towards those of a different race, nation or religion can start simply as distrust, which can then deepen into dislike and deepen further into hatred, which can turn into a desire to inflict violence.
Are we born with these attitudes? Certainly not. We are taught them at home, at school and even in some religious institutions.
Dr. Martin Luther King, after giving careful thought to the problem of discriminatory laws, selected Mahatma Gandhi's tactic of non-violent resistance as an effective method for overcoming these unjust laws. What today, then, is an effective way for solving our current problem, which is overcoming attitudes of prejudice and discrimination? It is education.
Instead of teaching children to be intolerant and to dislike and distrust, hate and inflict violence on those who are different, we can teach them to be tolerant, like and trust, befriend and help. Excellent resources for promoting tolerance are distributed by the Southern Poverty Law Center in its 'Teach Tolerance Program'. These are available on its web site at 'www.splcenter.org'
One of their publication is entitled ' 101 tools for tolerance'. It contains simple ideas for increasing tolerance, for you personally, in your home, in your school, in your work place and in your community. Here are two of the ideas for the home. Take the family to an ethnic restaurant and learn about more than just the food. The second, invite someone of a different background to join your family for a meal or holiday.
The booklet concludes with a pledge of tolerance that I would like to read.
"Tolerance is a personal decision that comes from a belief that every person is a treasure. I believe that America's diversity is its strength. I also recognize that ignorance, insensitivity and bigotry can turn that diversity into a source of prejudice and discrimination. To help keep diversity a well-spring of strength and make America a better place for all, I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identify or other characteristics are different from my own. To fulfill this pledge, I will examine my own biases and work to overcome them. Set a positive example for my family and friends. Work for tolerance in my own community and speak out against hate and injustice.
Please sign and mail a copy of this pledge to the National Campaign for Tolerance, Montgomery, Alabama."