Monday, January 21, 2008

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- the dream thrives

I was just a kid when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to prominence as a civil-rights leader. I remember the "I have a dream" speech and a few marches, and that's about it. We lived overseas during a good part of his rise as a leader, and I'm sure I missed a lot.

We came back to the states just in time for his assassination. It was a terrible time of murders, of marches.

I really didn't come to appreciate the minister until I was an adult, and read his speeches.

One that brought tears to my eyes was this account:

In 1967, King spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia. He said, “I want to ask you a question, and that is: What is your life's blueprint?”

He went on the say, “Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, and a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint.”

“Number one in your life's blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don't allow anybody to make you fell that you're nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance,” King urged the students.

We all need a good, solid blueprint. Whatever our race, our sexual orientation, our circumstances, even our looks -- whatever negative messages we received growing up. First, we have to believe in our own dignity.

King was felled by an assassin's bullet in 1968.

The birthday of civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King, is remembered on the third Monday of January. King was born Jan. 15, 1929.

The son of the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, King answered a call to the clergy, as well as to a call to seek equality for all and to advocate for the poor and against the war in Viet Nam. He believed in nonviolent forms of protest, which led to his arrest at a number of demonstrations throughout the South.

He came to prominence as a leader in the civil-rights movement after he led the black boycott of segregated buses, resulting in the desegregation of Montgomery, Ala., bus service in the mid-1950s.

King's “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the climax of a 1963 civil-rights march through Washington, D.C. It helped speed the passage of major civil-rights legislation through Congress.

King’s dream was not one just for young black people. His vision was one of children standing together, hand-in-hand.

He said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

At 35 years of age, King was the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize. King was also a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957.

Monday, January 14, 2008

In my right mind?

I succumbed to temptation and took this quiz. I think I'm actually more in the middle than the results indicate, because the quiz questions force you to answer once extreme or the other. I would have taken the middle, if offered the option. But, maybe that's my left brain kicking in.

You Are 30% Left Brained, 70% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.

Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.

If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.

Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.

Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.

If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.

Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

On a weather roller coaster

As a couple of commenters have noted, we've had some cold weather here. We're on a weather roller coaster. We've had record highs and lows in the space of a couple of weeks!

We went from highs in the 80's to highs in the 50's before Christmas, then it warmed back up for New Year's Eve -- I wore sandals -- then turned cold again. We had a FREEZE the other night! Now, this may not seem a crisis to Yankees, but down here, it endangers the citrus industry and fern growers (another big local industry), who scramble feverishly to put out heating pots and misters to protect their crops.

I have to worry about water pipes freezing. My well assembly and water softener have above-ground pipes, and I've awoken a few times in past years to no water until the sun melted the ice.

This time (the first freeze for three or four years), I was out in the dark turning on a a low flow to the sprinkler on the side of the house. This kept water moving through the pipes enough to keep them from freezing up. My hands got wet and it felt like they were being stabbed! Betsy went out with me, and thought we were going to go for a walk. I told her sorry, I'm going back inside to warm up.

The ice coating on the grass and on my fence was quite pretty the next morning.

Now, the weather's turning milder again.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Animals of my life

As we roll toward Epiphany, I've taken note of the animals in my life. Betsy, the best dog in the whole wide world, and who graciously puts up with Christmas Eve antlers (for a few minutes)is my Number 1, closely followed by cats Jack the Brat and Elvis.

This Christmas, a couple of more animals have been added to the roll call.

I adopted a Manatee named Phyllis through the Save the Manatee Club. She's a habituee of nearby Blue Spring State Park, and a reminder that we need to work to protect the river and the spring from the side effects of development and population growth. Ground water levels are in danger of becoming low enough to dry up marshes, destroy ecosystems and allow salt-water intrusion, because of drawing down for drinking for the thirsty and growing population.

There are already changes to Blue Spring because of nutrient loading from nitrates found in runoff from lawn fertilizers and from septic tanks. The manatees, other wildlife and our water sources are all in peril.

Finally, some people in Africa are better off because of a Christmas gift from my friends -- the donation of a couple of goats in my name through the Episcopal Relief fund. Goats are especially valued for their milk, meat, manure -- and the offspring the produce. It's hard for us to imagine the poverty in some countries, and how much difference a goat can make.

Thank you, Lord Christ, for the bounty and diversity of life you put on this planet. Make us your trustworthy stewards of this Earth and teach us to care for it and each other.

Remind us who have so much that we are to share what we have with those in need.

In your name's sake, I pray.

(Ed. note: I started this post New Year's Day, but didn't finish it until this morning, Jan. 5)