HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Satyagraha & the Unsp...

Fri Mar 2, 2012, 10:03 PM

Satyagraha & the Unspeakable

[IMG][/IMG]

When I announced my hunger strike on Martin Luther King Day in January, I based my speech on some of the writings of Thomas Merton. Although it was a bitter cold day, the group assembled outside of the State Office Building in Binghamton, NY, seemed to find my presentation interesting. When I finished, a gentleman came up and introduced himself to me: he was a Vietnam combat veteran, and had found Merton's teachings valuable in helping him to reintegrate into society. I found myself impressed at the fact that he had become a greater type of “warrior,” doing battle with the dark forces that Merton called “the Unspeakable.”

This week, during the course of driving my wife and I to a total of five lengthy medical appointments, I stopped at a bookstore for some new reading material. I picked up two good books. The first, by Bruce Miroff, a professor of political science at SUNY-Albany, is “The Liberals' Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party” (2007). Older forum members will recall the 1972 presidential election as disheartening. Ugly divisions within the Democratic Party, added to the post-60s fatigue and republican dirty tricks, resulted in the re-election of Richard Nixon. At that time, Nixon appeared to be the lowest life form that could possibly occupy the White House; both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush suggested there was a level beneath Nixon.

Younger forum members may recognize that there tends to be focus on that election than any other in recent history. Yet the cast of Democratic characters who played a role included both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, along with numerous others who played significant roles in national politics in every election since '72. Miroff produces a powerful argument about how the older established party leaders were more willing to force the nation to endure another Nixon term, than to join forces with the younger generation of insurgents who made McGovern's improbable nomination possible.

It's not a puff piece, though: Miroff shines a bright light on the errors of McGover, an honorable leader in a poisoned political atmosphere, and his campaign staff. It's fascinating reading for old activists. More, it is essential reading for all democratic/liberal/progressive grass roots activists today. (The McGovern campaign was the first that used the “new” technology of computers in the primary season!) It's said that wise people learn from others' mistakes; most people have to learn from their own mistakes; and that fools just never learn. We can all learn from this book.

The second book I got – which was recommended by a Good Friend who posts on this forum – is James Douglass's 2012 release, “Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiment With Truth.” Douglass previously wrote “JFK and the Unspeakable”; he is currently working on books on the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

Douglass, who had a friendship with Thomas Merton, is an important author. I believe that both his JFK and Gandhi books are extremely important reads for those who are engaged in the struggle for social justice. By no coincidence, I also urge people to read books by and about Merton, Malcolm, Martin, and RFK.

As noted in previous essays here, I am currently involved in the grass roots effort to protect the environment – including all life forms therein – from the destructive forces of hydrofracking. Those forces include both the “energy industry” pushing hydrofracking, and the extremely damaging process itself. But it goes beyond that. As every person who has been or presently is involved in grass roots activism knows, there are frequent stumbling blocks presented by the inevitable differences in opinion among the grass roots group/groups. That is human nature: it took place in the Civil Rights and the Anti-War movements, and in virtually every social justice movement since.

Gandhi called for a New Awakening in the human potential for growth. Most of the distractions that groups face internally are the result of “personality” conflicts. People get their feelings hurt. People have fears and anxieties. People want recognition. Even more, there is rarely only one “correct” view of any given situation: for we are all individuals, who see things from our own unique frame of reference.

What Gandhi promoted was the casting of personality quirks aside, much as a seed discards its outer shell while germinating. As individuals, we need to allow our true essence to sprout and grow. Not because of what our opposition thinks of us, nor for our allies' alone. We are confronted with a form of societal decay so powerful – the Unspeakable – that can only be overcome by our very best efforts.

In New York, that Unspeakable has sought to take root by way of hydrofracking. There are, obviously, numerous other very important issues at stake in the struggle for social justice. Other states and other communities have their own Unspeakable struggles. What they have in common is the calling upon us – you and I – to bring forth the best potential within us. For, as Gandhi said, love is the only thing that even atom bombs cannot destroy.

Peace,
H2O Man

7 replies, 2933 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 7 replies Author Time Post
Reply Satyagraha & the Unspeakable (Original post)
H2O Man Mar 2012 OP
bleever Mar 2012 #1
H2O Man Mar 2012 #2
bleever Mar 2012 #3
mmonk Mar 2012 #4
hfojvt Mar 2012 #5
xchrom Mar 2012 #6
Beringia Mar 2012 #7

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Mar 2, 2012, 10:22 PM

1. Would you kindly talk about how each of them used the term "Unspeakable"?

Not being familiar with either of the books you mentioned, I'm curious as to how the term is used in their contexts, and in yours.

Thank you.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to bleever (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 3, 2012, 02:48 PM

2. Sure.

Douglass uses Merton's description:

"It is the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said; the void that gets into the language of public and official declarations at the very moment where they are pronounced, and makes them ring dead with the hollowness of the abyss. It is the void out of which Eichmann drew the punctilious exactitude of his obedience."

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Reply #2)

Sat Mar 3, 2012, 03:16 PM

3. Thanks.

Now I have a term for where all of Rush Limbaugh's hateful sophistry arises from.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 3, 2012, 04:31 PM

4. Some mighty dark forces are aligned against us today.

Love is about our only weapon but we should not underestimate it. It has a power that can cut through the haze of injustice.


Have fun with the books. The one “The Liberals' Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party” sounds like it would bring a flood of memories back to me. The establishment may have blamed us liberals but their failure to unite behind us has been costly ever since. I still have many items from Nixon's days of rule except of course my bumpersticker I had after Watergate broke which read "Nixon is a plumber's friend". But the right today is even darker than Nixon.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 3, 2012, 04:53 PM

5. I kinda like personality quirks

Rather than casting them aside, it would be sorta nice if people stopped hurting each other. Or at least tried.

Sometimes, though, the temptation to counterpunch cannot be denied.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 3, 2012, 05:19 PM

6. Du rec. Nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Mar 9, 2012, 06:42 PM

7. Thomas Merton's journals

I have been reading Thomas Merton's journals from before he entered the monastery to his death. They are excellent to read and he talks about books he is reading a lot which give good possibilities for reading material.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread