15 Aug
Posted in: Books, Homework
By    Comments Off on What It Means To Be Civilized

What It Means To Be Civilized


As part of this month’s CDL homework, I’ve been reading selections from “Taming the Ox: Buddhist Stories and Reflections of Politics, Race, Culture and Spiritual Practice, by Charles Johnson (pictured above, who will be a guest speaker at our next training retreat in September).

Here’s a passage that strikes me as particularly important–and timely–even though (maybe especially because) it was written more than 10 years ago:

“….At stake in the Martin Luther King, Jr. story are not only questions about American race relations but also deeper issues, older conundrums about what it means to be civilized in the political and social world, about how one confronts social evil without creating evil, division, and enmity, even questions about what Buddhists call pattica samuppada (Dependent Origination) that resonate beneath the surface of King’s remarkable and too-brief thirty-nine years of life.

“Clearly these are matters of urgency–especially the demand for civility–when in our spiritually bankrupt world awash in pop-culture vulgarity and terrorist acts…our leaders during the last presidential campaign [2004], on both the left and the right, shamelessly employed in their desire to ‘win’ such tactics as mudslinging and character assassination. (Prescient, King once stated, ‘We shall have to create leaders who embody virtues we can respect,’ and also counseled, ‘We must be sure that our hands are clean in the struggle.’)

“Would that today’s arrogant, ankle-biting and so often shortsighted politicians, with their red-meat rhetoric, might remember what King told Freedom Riders in 1960: ‘Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community.'”

Comments are closed.