Bare Bones Biology 187 – Wisdom Repost

140120-MLK-ASC_7712RLSRLS wethepeopleBitsy and I like to participate every year in the parade, walking up Martin Luther King Street, behind the big, green garbage truck, around the corner in front of the African-American Museum on Pruitt Street, and then on through downtown to the school. Bitsy loves a parade, and walking that way, with the community, brings to my mind a very simple, very important event in my life that had nothing to do with Martin Luther King, Jr. He was in college at the time. Unknown. I was in high school.

It happened during our family cross-country road trip to – I forget where, but it was someplace in the south where we stopped at the fairgrounds and climbed up high in the old wooden outdoor grandstand to watch a horse show. Special treat for me. I was one of those horse-crazy girls, very blond, very white, very shy, raised up mostly in small-town California, really not very much concerned, not even very much aware of the various colors of human complexions.   That must have been – good grief — in the mid-forties, about 65 years ago, more or less.

 

So there I was watching the horse show in this strange place when nature called and would not be denied. So I climbed down from my perch, wandered around for quite a while and finally, unawares, ended up in the “colored” ladies’ restroom. And that’s pretty much the story. I don’t remember the details, only today the visual is photographically clear, as though those ladies have been standing still there in my head through all this time. I see a fairly long line of smiling, chattering black ladies who stopped stock still, maybe I should say shocked still, staring at me, as I went in, used the facility, and then left.

 

I cowered under their glare. What? I thought. What did I do wrong? Some years later I understood — those ladies – that image in my head – represents the first important realignment of my world view.

 

Yesterday morning I read another individual story on the web. The author claims that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., did not change white people’s lives, but only black people’s lives. That same afternoon, two of us white “girls” were brought nearly to tears talking about how Martin Luther King, Jr. changed our individual lives. Indeed he did; he changed the whole culture and we all are part of the culture.

 

But, you know, he didn’t do all that changing by himself. In fact I doubt he did any of it by himself. And every person, white or black or other, then or now, who spends time and effort trying to understand the wisdom of Martin Luther King’s world view, was and is a part of his legacy – changed by his wisdom, changing our own world views to be more like his, continuing to change our world.

 

MLK Jr was a wise young man. Sometimes we forget the wisdom; sometimes we forget his message and focus on his charisma, his courage, and character. But the measure of his legacy will be the changes we make in our own lives, not because of his charisma and courage, but because of the wisdom that he tried to leave with us.

 

Nobody by himself, not me, not you, not Martin Luther King Jr., nobody can save a culture. But nobody can stop us each, as individual helpers, from studying, trying to understand and talking about what he was talking about (not what we want, but his own vision), trying to live by the wisdom, and so bringing his legacy into our culture. Martin Luther King was, most importantly, a wise elder to our entire culture. He explained the vision; it’s us, his helpers on both sides of the tracks, who bring the vision to life.

Or not.

 

This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS Radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas.

 

The podcast of this program can be downloaded at:

http://traffic.libsyn.com/fff/Bare_Bones_Bioloy_187_-_Wisdom.mp3

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anaemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., “Where do we go from here?”

 

http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/where_do_we_go_from_here_delivered_at_the_11th_annual_sclc_convention/

http://www.upaya.org/newsletter/view/2014/01/21#story9   Open the Newsletter. Scroll down to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “To-Do List,” by Rev. John Dear

 

Tags: Martin_Luther_King, Jr., legacy, Brazos_Valley_African-American Museum, wise compassion, wise power

 

Bare Bones Biology 082 – Compassion

Practical compassion, energizes life-affirming behaviors. Sometimes known as win-win, practical compassion requires us to understand the needs of the others, and to use that understanding to develop mutually rewarding long-term outcomes. This is not easy when we interact with other living things that aren’t human, because many of the needs of other organisms are different from our own. That’s where science can help us out.

But, you may well say, we have given up on science. We tried it and it clearly didn’t do what we wanted. I would agree completely if we were talking about technology. We have mostly used our technology to despoil, not to affirm life. Especially in recent time. But I’m talking about science, not technology. Science doesn’t do things. Science is a method to learn about the laws of nature and how they function. To learn about light, for example, or how does energy work.

But science doesn’t do anything, therefore science does not promise anything. It simply tries to learn about the laws of nature. The laws of nature are not our responsibility. If we use our knowledge of science to do something or make something, that would be technology. It is our responsibility how we use our knowledge. There is no way that humans can change the laws of nature, but what we humans decide to do with our understanding of the laws of nature is our human responsibility, and I agree with you completely. For the most part our recent uses of technology have not been life affirming. We have failed in our responsibility.

“Nature does not forgive. It is caught in the finality of its impersonal structure.
Nature must be true to its immutable laws. When these laws are broken it must
go on down its path of uniformity.”

In this excerpt, Martin Luther King, Jr., is describing the basic law of cause and effect. For what we have done by misusing our knowledge of science, we are paying the price. We can’t stop the effects of what we have done any more than we could un-throw a rock. But we could stop throwing rocks if we are interested in growing a better future for human kind.

We could stop fighting over our ideas and start collaborating in a compassionate search for a better way of life. We could use our scientific knowledge to inform our practical compassion that I described last week
– and we could use our compassionate human values to inform the way we use our scientific knowledge.

Instead, we continue to fight over ideas. Like – what is more true – science or compassion.

What hogwash – it’s all true. We are human. We are compassionate beings. Our cultures function best when they affirm our compassionate needs. That doesn’t mean EVERYTHING functions better when we affirm our own compassionate needs. Science is not about compassion. Science is a way to study phenomena without the added confusion caused by our emotional needs.

Scoffing at religion because it centers around our emotional needs is self-defeating. Scoffing at science because it does not center around our emotional needs is also self-defeating. We can do better than either of these.

I think every scientist and every technologist should be responsible to learn and apply the basic principles of practical compassion. I also think that every person who claims to be compassionate, or caring, should be responsible to learn about the basic functions of our living world and use her understanding to inform her politics and her good works. Everyone else should do both.

Otherwise, the efforts on all sides, no matter how well intended, will end in ever more wars (OK, you call them debates) over silliness. Science versus compassion. Me versus you. Individual versus the population, and the population versus the whole living, breathing earth. And the result will continue to be lose, lose, lose, lose, lose and lose.

Bare Bones Biology 082 – Compassion
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