1/16/2006

MLK

Non violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and enobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At the place I work, the office is closed just 5 days a year, and today is not one of those days. Instead we get something called PTO - personal time off - which we can use to take 'odd holidays' off, like MLK or Veteran's day or even Columbus Day. PTO can accumulate quickly and it rolls over year to year and such. In general, it's a pretty equitable arrangement, except since the office isn't closed folk usually don't take these 'odd holidays' saving hours instead for vacations and sick days (which are all in the same pool of hours). We're given the sense, then, that these holidays aren't as important as the 5 designated, and that they can somehow accumulate to trade for 'something better.'

I think our director knows this isn't really ideal as he usually sends a little holiday note on MLK day (and I think Veterans day), something a bit patriotic, the tiniest recognition that there should be something more than 'business as usual.' Today his email served to just irritate me, like a burr under my blanket saddle, a reminder that I could be doing something different with my day. Although, honestly, I'd likely sleep the majority of it, or do odd chores, or catch up on my email if I actually took the day off, ideally I'd be home working at this Compassionate Activism project I've got mulling around my head.

It's not a new concept, and not even likely a new term for it, but I roll the term around my head a lot these days, trying to understand what it is I'm trying to grasp. It's reactionary in many ways, to the escalation I see in a type of activism that is confrontational-in-your-face sort. It's the sort of activism I don't want to see stop, necessarily - change is happening because of how people are speaking out - loudly and persistently protesting the assumptions being made especially by the current US President et al. But it's also not a kind of activism that I come to easily because I sense it is also missing something important.

Tracking along with it has been my exploration of Babaylan and my attempt to grasp a sense of Filipino Sensiblity...there are the seeds of possiblity for a compassionate activism in all the things I find, a way to make societal and personal changes in a manner that acknowledges that the dominant is also suffering as a result of the oppression of the alternative, and that the 'gains' and 'successes' seen hide a series of unmet needs and unaddressed fears the dominant possess. This is not to say that the alternatives have it all and are just being put down because of it - it just means that the old paradigm of becoming as close to the dominant ideals is a no-win situation for the alternative.

My thoughts are by no means fully fleshed out - more research and meditation are needed.

MLK practiced compassionate activism, though, and rode the wave of changes made during Civil Rights. He paid for his commitment ultimately, and in a sense, his life is a warning that the practice should not be taken lightly. For his commitment, I celebrate his day even as I work at my desk.

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