There was a news report recently about the National Security Agency being caught in a massive spying operation against a Quaker group in Baltimore, Maryland.
To read the entire disgraceful story from a site called "Raw Story," click here.
I asked the weekly peace vigil protestors in front of the Federal Building in San Francisco whether they had heard about this story, and the response was half yes and no.
When asked if they thought they were under surveillance themselves, their response was surprisingly uniform, on the order of: "I'd be extremely disappointed if I WASN'T."
The custodians of our war-and-oil-based economy are not at all frightened of America's supposed enemies.
Instead, their real unease is with those who question the very basis of all their assumptions with their talk of peace and love, such as Cindy Sheehan, seen here at a Well-Lighted Place for Books reading from her new book last week, and answering questions from the overflow audience.
It's good to remember that Martin Luther King, Jr. was always considered more threatening than Nikita Kruschev by many in the U.S. government.
There's a wonderful political blog put out by a trio of women in Washington, DC called "firedoglake" (click here) and I'm going to lift a few of my favorite MLK quotes from their appreciation this morning.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
"A time comes when silence is betrayal...."
The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.
And some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us."
At a Quaker blog, Merle Harton, Jr. writes about his uneasiness with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday ("Walking Pastwards") and it's a brilliant essay. Click here to check it out.
The title of this entry is from a Nina Simone song written after MLK's assassination. It's my friend Ellen's newly traditional holiday music, and a great choice for everyone. Frankly, you can't go wrong with Nina Simone.