Dr. Vincent Harding, longtime associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speechwriter, activist, and currently Professor of Religion and Social Transformation at Illiff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, was one of the panelists at a two-day conference at Stanford University July 16th and 17th. Hosted by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute at Stanford, the theme, Where Do We Go From Here?, referring to the astounding changes in our country because of the Civil Rights Movement, brought together scholars, students, professors, and leaders to an international debate. Dr. Harding asked, “Where do we go from 1776 — the preamble of the United States Constitution that called us to create a more perfect union? We, today, can still create a nation that does not yet exist.” Dr. Harding has written numerous books, including Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero.
Mary E. King, award-winning author, professor, scholar and lifelong activist for peace and nonviolent action, reminded us that peace is not possible without the involvement of women and women’s groups. Societies must include the community-minded issues and programs of women and listen to women’s voices on every level. Ms. King gained prominence in 1965 when she co-authored Sex and Caste – A Kind of Memo with Casey Hayden, a manifesto on the treatment of women compared with the treatment of African Americans. http://www.maryking.info/Mary-King-Sex-and-Caste-Memo.html I loved Ms. King’s wisdom about government deriving its power from the people. Much of the first day’s message was that each of us carries the power to create a positive, peaceful world.
I believe nonviolence begins with an understanding of creating peace within. Michael Nagler, founder of Metta Center for Nonviolence in Berkeley, CA (http://www.mettacenter.org/) said that, “right globalization comes from the people’s drive to create beloved community. The universe came from pure consciousness; we came from pure consciousness.”
As I listened to these very different supporters of social change and social justice, every part of my mind and body was awake and vibrating with ideas to do more to change the world and increase awareness about the possibility of nonviolence, consciousness, and peace. Yes, we live in a time of overwhelming self-indulgence with media that speaks of a “just war” in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there is no way to stop war without stopping war. Period.
The very animated and enthusiastic founder of Riverside School in India, Kiran Bir Sethi, (http://www.schoolriverside.com/team.aspx?&siteID=1&nodeId=66) teaches students to take charge and reminded us that we should teach for relevance and build relationships with our children, not offer a static, information-based curriculum. We can believe in a child and foment their individual gifts and talents from an early age, rather than force them to memorize and regurgitate facts.
Each speaker reminded me of the significant, inspiring opportunities I have everyday through my connections with the grantees of my Do A Little foundation. I was encouraged to search for more resources to support the Daraja Academy so that the girls will be empowered to take what they are learning out into the world and apply every morsel of wisdom to all they do. We can all extend our knowledge and growth to everyone we meet, and create a sustainable system of transformation and oneness as Dr. King suggests:
… today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of
change. The large house in which we live demands that we transform
this worldwide neighborhood into a worldwide brotherhood.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here?
16 August 1967