Three Men

Listening to an interesting lecture today on Ghandi, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr I was able to reflect on the irrevocable link these three men’s ultimate message had with regard to freedom and truth.

All three of them – although one a devout Chrsitian, one an Hindu and the other, for just over a decade, a Muslim – eventually centred on the final volition that freedom can only be found in freedom from internal fear and through inclusivism. All battled against racial injustice and all came to the conclusion that integration of all peoples and beliefs was the solution to problems, not exclusivism.

There is also an interesting point that an observer of Malcolm X noted after Malcolm’s infamous pilgrammage to Mecca, a journey that appeared to fundamentally change his understanding of truth. He went from believing that he knew the truth, to believing that he was seeking the truth, a seemingly subtle but valuable distinction. A belief that we know absolute truth is pervasive in our culture, in which we feel we know things either entirely or not at all. Our paradigm of thinking is in dichotomies. Of binary opposites; right and wrong, good and evil, God and the Devil, rich and poor. It is hard for us to perceive a world that does not fit this paradigm, and other cultures that do not square with our picture must therefore, inexorably, be wrong. I think there is a lot to be said for Christianity and Science, two pillars of our societal structure, in creating this modern paradigm, yet there are many societal structures that have far more flexibility in this respect. Our belief in the binary nature of things here has often led to a pursuit of dominance with an entirely self righteous and self absolving tone, as if we know that we have the truth, that we are right, then we can do what we please, after all, God says it is right, or science proves we are right. Many a war and many a death has been caused through this reasoning.

This stark notion was neatly highlighted by Cheif Jerry Jack, a Mowachaht elder in 1994, “We never told the Christians they would go to hell if they did not accept our religious beliefs. That’s the difference between our spirituality and the white man’s”.

I fear this is actually just ramblings right now. I really just wanted to sit down and write out a quote from the lecture I heard that really struck me. Something that all three of these men came to understand is that in any action done against us, we must always maintain awareness of an important fact if we really want to see a more positive world and avoid ending up in the midst of Ghandi’s edict ‘An eye for an eye and the whole world will be blind’. We should “always hold the sin and not the sinner responsible”. From being annoyed by someone calling you names, to wanting vengence against a group of people because they systematically raped and murdered your brethren, if this point is not heeded, then inevitably, there will be much more blindness on this here rock. Perhaps something to muse on, perhaps not.

Aside: There is an incredible tv show Pete and I came across years ago called ‘Meet the Natives’ in which five people from a tiny island called Tannu in the Pacific, come to England and live with three different groups of English people for a few weeks at a time. It is funny but also humbling and allows us to see some of the wonderful things we often overlook about our culture and some of the more damaging and hypocritical aspect of our society as well. For those who know how to and like to torrent things here is a direct link to the torrent I downloaded today, just click ‘Download via Torrent!’, easy.


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