“It does not matter how long you live, but how well you do it.”

Finally we have sun, but we also have a dusting of snow and a cold day in the high 20’s. My heat has been blasting all morning so the house is cozy and warm. Sadly, I have no choice but to bite the bullet and go out later. It looks as if I’ll be scraping the windshield. I can’t even remember the last time I had to do that. 

Today is Martin Luther King day. I looked through my archives and decided to repost last year’s Coffee. It says everything needing to be said. 

Martin Luther King Jr. has now been dead longer than he lived. But what an extraordinary life it was.

At 33, he was pressing the case of civil rights with President John Kennedy. At 34, he galvanized the nation with his “I Have a Dream” speech. At 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. At 39, he was assassinated, but he left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues today.”   from the Seattle Times

I was in high school when I began to notice the world around me in a different way. All of a sudden it was far bigger than my small town. Back then I didn’t know a single Black person. There were none where I grew up, but a parish priest began to open our eyes and through him we met Black teenagers from Boston. Through them I became aware of social inequities, of Jim Crow and of the struggles of Blacks to register to vote. My friends and I were too young to go South, to march or register voters, but we were more than willing to do small tasks for even they had impact. We worked with snick, SNCC, going door to door to raise money. We attended NAACP meetings and passed out pamphlets. We did what we could.

Without realizing it, I had developed a social conscience which would forever be part of my life. It helped define what the 60’s meant to me. During college, I picketed and marched for a variety of causes I had come to believe in. I joined the Peace Corps, my recognition that we all have a responsibility to make this world a better place. I still feel the same way. 

 

 

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8 Comments on ““It does not matter how long you live, but how well you do it.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    Warmer here today, still below 32 but the sun shone and melted the snow on the roofs, we’ll get more snow tomorrow so it was nice while it lasted 🙂

    I can’t say there were lots of immigrants where I lived but still many enough so that I early on learned that the world isn’t all that nice to all people. It was mostly immigrants from southern Europe, like Jugoslavia, Italy and Turkey but mostly if was people from Finland who lived in my neighborhood.

    We were all just as poor so they too borrowed a cup of sugar, an egg or what ever they needed by the endof the month, soracism was nothing I knew what it was until much later, now it is way to common I’m afraid.

    Have a great day!

    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      I just got back from doing my errand. I was freezing just going from the car to the store and back again. It is good to be in the warm house.

      There were no immigrants in my town. There were people of Irish and Italian heritage all born here. It was a town with no Black families though they would have been welcomed.

      We had enough and never thought ourselves deprived.

      Enjoy the evening!

  2. Richard Says:

    Started with a dusting of flurries last night, but nothing stayed around. Maybe next time …

    Having grown up poor in a racially mixed neighborhood, I never understood the contentiousness of the whole ‘racial argument.’ We played with black kids as well as kids of other races and nationalities. They were our friends. We were their friends. No big deal. Everything went in the shitter after LBJ forced into law his ‘Grate Society’ program. The black families we knew were split apart by LBJ’s diktat that, if a woman wanted ‘benefits,’ there could be no adult black male in the household. In a very short time, most – not all – of the intact black families we knew were single-parent ‘households’ with a single mother and no father in the house. We’re supposed to be surprised at how that would play out? I think not. It was entirely predictable.

    I was on Canal Street in New Orleans when the ‘sit-ins’ took place at Woolworth’s. I saw the Democratic ‘governors’ like Orval Faubus stand in the schoolhouse door and force the use of the 101st Abn to get the new students into the schoolhouse. I remember George Wallace and Lester Maddox and the ‘legendary’ Bull Connor, Democrats all. They, and their successors today, had only one goal insofar as it was relevant to the black population, which was / is to keep them on the ‘Democratic Plantation’ to keep voting ’em into office by putting the ‘benefits faucet’ on just a slow-enough trickle to prevent them from (a) jumping ship or (b) revolting against the ‘new massas.’ After 2008, that scenario became a lot more radicalized.

    Would it have been a good thing if MLK’s ‘I have a dream’ concept had played out in practice? Yes. My childhood experiences in those days before LBJ’s planned destruction of the intact black family bears that out. We got along, discussed things that affected us, and understood, albeit in a primordial fashion, the commonalities shared by all humans. Was there a possibility MLK’s dream would be sabotaged by his erstwhile ‘friends’ and ‘supporters’ in the Democratic party? I don’t really need to answer that, do I?

    As Buffalo Springfield said in a completely opposite, yet predictably still applicable, context: “There’s something happening here / But what it is ain’t exactly clear / There’s a man with a gun over there / Telling me I got to beware” …

    Maybe one day things will improve … I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

    • katry Says:

      Richard,
      I never knew the whole racial argument growing up as my town was white in the 50’s. It was just that way, not planned, just happenstance.

      I heard Wallace speak when he was on his campaign route. He was in Boston, on the Common. The crowd listened politely but were not Wallace voters and only gave light applause. I think he knew the crowd was not a Wallace crowd.

      I met my first Black when I was in high school. I met my second in college. It was just a white world in the suburbs.

      I wouldn’t hold my breath either.

  3. Birgit Says:

    MLK Day is a holiday in the States? Great!
    We urgently need these kind of dreams here too to remind us of humanity and responsibility for people who need a safe place to live.
    Still too many racists here and also too many politicians who join in racist debates with dumb and dangerous slogans and laws in order to win the next elections. I could rant for hours about idiots and failed past and current politics but let’s keep it local.
    I’m lucky to live in a region with a lots of immigrants, descendants of immigrants, international students and guests so except for the usual suspects we don’t mind to have some more people here and everyday racism is a lesser problem than in other areas of this country. Sure, not everything is perfect and problems still have to be solved but I think and hope we’re on our way. I’m not so sure about a sane national and European development but time will tell. You know, hope dies last.

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      It is a federal holiday: no schools, banks or mail. Most stores, though, are open anyway.

      There are racists everywhere. Here many hide behind political comments about the President but the hidden agenda isn’t as well hidden as they think.

      I always felt I lived in a liberal state which honors diversity, but the governor said no refugees. He doesn’t have the power to say no, but he wanted his feelings known. They are Muslims! Run!!

  4. Morpfy Says:

    Heard Glen Fry of the Eagles passed away today of complications. RIP Glen

    • katry Says:

      Mortify,
      I read that on Facebook and even the local news mentioned him. The Eagles have announced it on their home page.


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