Hold It All

Tag: Martin Luther King

Be Here Now: American Sadhana and the Search for the Real

If you’ve ever …

put your faith in a guru
traveled to India and were blown away and never took a single drug

recited a mantra throughout the day
met your future wife at  a retreat in north India

had a mid-Seventies practice of TM
acknowledged 1970 seed planted from radio frequent playing of My Sweet Lord

engaged in a conversations where such words as Atman, samadhi, and sattva were common
quoted often one of your Gujarati-American students who told her classmates, “I look at you and see God”

went “off-script” after having read Be Here Now
smiled with a Namaste and palms together several hundred times

underwent 190+ hours for Yoga Teacher Training
learned how to play the sitar Read the rest of this entry »

Ninety Years Alive on Earth

On Thich Nhat Hanh, At Home in the World: Stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk’s Life.  Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2016.

Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is a survivor.  Narrowly missing death in South Vietnam  on more than one occasion during the 1960s, he had many students killed in the bloodshed during the American War. He and other Tiep Hien Buddhists could not return to their country for fear of persecution, or worse. Uprooted, he ended up living in France,  where he and friends slowly began to rebuild their  lives.

At Home in the World, published in 2016, offers snapshots of nine full decades of Thich Nhat Hanh’s life.  It bears keeping in mind that his country  was living under a French colonial occupation regime, followed by U.S. intervention and invasion.  He and his friends knew what it was like to live under the U.S. bombs.

Nhat Hanh admits that in his youth he was a “revolutionary monk.”  He and his brothers  wanted to rejuvenate Vietnamese Buddhism, and they had to reckon with a conservative religious  establishment. Their motivation was simple: “Taking action against injustice is not enough. We believed action must embody mindfulness. If there is no awareness, action will only cause more harm. Our group believed it must be possible to combine meditation and action to create mindful action.” [41] Read the rest of this entry »

Hearts and Minds, Revisited by Mark Chmiel and Andrew Wimmer

This article was first published at Counterpunch, January 12, 2005.


The ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds
of the people who actually live out there.

–Lyndon Johnson, on Vietnam

There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war ­ as least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake.

–Daniel Berrigan, on the peace movement

In the months before the election, there was a lot of talk about the Vietnam War, some concerning where George W. Bush had been during that time, some dealing with what John Kerry had done, both in Vietnam and back at home. At the Democratic Convention, John Kerry declared himself proud to have served in Vietnam-consigning to Orwell’s memory hole his post-war activism against the war. In a campaign where he had to be seen as strong to rival Bush’s macho (yet fumbling) discourse, Kerry conveniently let that conscientious part of his own past slip away. (That “forgetting” is at least congruent with his support of the current war in Iraq and his enthusiasm not to withdraw but to stay and win.) And, of course, Kerry uttered the infamous non sequitor that even if he had known there were no WMD beforehand, he would still have gone into Iraq had he been President.

Gore Vidal’s apt subtitle for his latest book is “Reflections on the United States of Amnesia.” John Kerry wanted to be the Commander in Chief of this land of Amnesiacs, and he certainly offered himself as role model for abject forgetting.

Much nonsense was spewed forth at both ends of the political spectrum with each trying to trump the other when it came to proving militarist bona fides. The press can never resist a good martial tune, and so we all pretended, for what we told ourselves would be just a moment, that an illegal invasion and immoral occupation could be set right by a few more troops and better armor on the Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The price we will pay for this collective amnesia will be enormous, though we have only begun to see the faint outline of its contours.

A stirring antidote to such amnesia is the 1974 Oscar-winning documentary by director Peter Davis, Hearts and Minds. Each semester in his Social Justice theology course at Saint Louis University Mark shows his students this film, which has been recently reissued in the Criterion series on DVD. Some students, in their early twenties, share observations of how hard it is for their relatives ­ fathers and uncles, mostly ­ to speak about their experience in Vietnam. Some have testified that these men, now in their fifties and sixties, are still suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For them, and their families, the Vietnam War is not yet over, there is not yet healing. The war lives on, enfleshed yet mostly mute, and still dreadful, with a new generation.

And yet hardly a week goes by that we don’t come across-in newscasts, on the Internet, in newspapers-a pious invocation of our efforts to win Iraqi “hearts and minds,” harking back to Vietnam, and willfully forgetting that our military efforts there (where we learned to “destroy the village in order to save it”) killed 3.5 million Vietnamese before they came to an end.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Julia Brucks: “The Fierce Urgency of Now” – My Journey with St Louis

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time…We must move past indecision to action…If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter — but beautiful — struggle for a new world…The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., Beyond Vietnam, 1967, New York City

The St Louis region must imitate the strength of Martin Luther King Junior—move through the human tendency to hesitate and instead make conscious choices to move boldly forward believing in the fierce urgency of now.

For five and half years, I’ve observed the patterns and participated in many of the social movements in St Louis. I will share with you blurred personal and professional reflections of my journey with St Louis beginning with my study of public health disparities at SLU, to my work as an activist with the grassroots community before Ferguson, to my systemic work with the grasstops community after Ferguson.


As a daughter of a community organizer and nurse practitioner, Julia’s passion for social justice and community driven change has deep roots. During her collegiate career, she studied Public Health, French, and International Studies, led the social justice publication, OneWorld Magazine, and worked in Public Affairs at the USDA, for a state representative in North City, and at the Advocacy Department at Catholic Charities. She most recently completed the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and currently works on special projects and regional collective impact efforts at United Way in the Strategic Giving and Innovation Department.


Join us
Sunday 24 January
Potluck begins at 6:00 p.m.
Julia begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Savannah Sisk
1817 Thurman
Apartment B
First floor, door on the left
Saint Louis, MO


Julia, on the left

In a Parallel Universe/1

Avigdor Lieberman said that the Baptist minister should be deported
Thus Dr. Martin Luther King retorted:

Injustice anywhere in the West Bank
Is a threat to justice everywhere

Email from Larry Friedberg in Haifa (Reading/6)

Dear Professor

One of your former students told my daughter
To tell me that I should read your book

So I did
I read it in two days

I want to thank you
You articulated what I’ve felt for some time

But I could only stumble over my words
With a few close friends

After a successful business career in Chicago
I retired and moved to Haifa

You’ll be interested to know
The Israel National Library has your book

Good for them!
People can learn something from you

I’m reveling each day
In the kindred political spirits I’ve met here

I refuse to go to Yad Vashem
I’ve had enough of memory

Without responsibility
Now is the time to be responsible!

I’m old enough to remember when Dr. King
Referred to “the fierce urgency of now”

To see what viciousness is happening in the West Bank
Is shocking and infuriating

Again thank you for your writing
It’s inspired me to get up off my ass

Larry Friedberg

–from forthcoming novel, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine

Boeing’s Dr. King, Our Dr. King

You remember your Dr. King
We remember ours

You believe that in these times
Dr. King would like diversity and inclusion

You cite his “content of their character”
“rather than the color of their skin”

Diversity is alive and well at Boeing
Everybody’s welcome to work there

On bombers and bunker busters
If you’ve got the skills

You can make the big bucks
At the company that thrives on war Read the rest of this entry »

Impossible Debt?


Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees.

–Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence” (1967) Read the rest of this entry »

A Counter Friction To Stop the Machine

The case of Bradley Manning matters.

The reason is simple: He touched a nerve.

Before releasing over 250,000 diplomatic cables to Wikileaks, Manning commented, “Hilary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and finds an entire depository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format to the public.”

According to Wikileaks, “The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in ‘client states’; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.”

Read the rest of this entry »

The Right of Jim Crow to Defend Itself

“We do not believe the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza,” [Hilary] Clinton told reporters at a news conference with the visiting foreign minister of the Philippines. “We think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke action by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves.”

–reported by Matthew Lee, Associated Press, Thursday 23 June 2011

Increasingly, a political-moral link is being made between the soon to embark Gaza Flotilla and the 1961 Freedom Riders.

Imagine a local or national politician, Southern or Northern, for that matter, saying the following in 1961:  “We do not believe that the so-called Freedom Ride is a necessary or useful effort to assist the Negroes in the South.”  Back then, paternalistic politicians would object to direct action being taken by mere citizens, black or white.  “Necessary” and “useful” action, by definition, would be that taken by elected officials, who know better, know more, and ought to be trusted by the people they represent. Read the rest of this entry »