Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Freedom and tenderness


Do you have seventeen and a half minutes to spare?

That is the duration of  Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic "I have a dream" speech. You might think that you know it, on this, the 50th anniversary from when it was delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial but then again, you might be surprised. If you actually listen to it, to him, in its entirety, well, it is the true essence of the best of what we can achieve in our limited existence. I can't not show up today to talk about this. Here is a link to watch it and if you can get through it without tears, you are of sterner stuff than I. We have come far, we have far to go.

(I chose this link as it also has the speech written out below, it is breathtaking in its beauty and power)

But I have a second lien for you today, another that touched me deeply, in such a quiet way that I had to strain to hear. And yet the words are echoing through me. My friend Aidan first brought my attention to the podcast On Being with Krista Tippett, I believe it was for the exceptional interview that she did with Brene Brown on vulnerability. Since then I tune in weekly while I iron. Today, I listened to Jean Vanier, who is the founder of L'Arche, a system of communities in 40 countries that works with the developmentally disabled. He spoke of how those that were not so long ago immediately shut away in asylums have much to teach us about what it is to be human. It is also very much worth your time and I agree that there is a profound Wisdom in Tenderness. 


It was really something to hear both of these on the same day, overlapping despite the stylistic differences. So again, much good has been done but it is up to each of us to keep passing it along. I think. N'est ce pas?

***
I am very surprised and grateful for the recent influx of new email subscribers. Not to worry, I don't spend too much time up on my soapbox--at all actually--but if you are here, well, we might just be of like minds.
With all of my Best from Arles,
Heather

34 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this. I listened to it yesterday, from another source, and was just amazed all over again. Look forwardto listening to the other piece, too.

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    1. Let me know what you think of it, if you do. I think his ideas go beyond the context that they were based on and are of use to us all.

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  2. Thank you Heather (and Aidan). Listening to the Jean Vanier interview now. It's wonderful! Happy to discover Krista Tippett's podcast and will check out the other interviews. Will listen to Martin Luther's speech too! Thanks for the encouragements to do so. P.S.: I love your taste in interviews and subjects. You are a sweet heart.

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    1. Oh, thank you! (it takes one to know one?) Kristin, I have been loving the On Being series. I always learn and am inspired. Always.

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  3. Thanks for these links, Heather. I was listening to President Obama speak at today's memorial ceremony when your post came in. Indeed, listening to King's speech brings back an era very early in my life (and when you weren't even yet born!) I, too, was impacted by Brene Brown's discussion of vulnerability, and her contention that that which makes us vulnerable also makes us beautiful. She inspired a post from me last fall (http://judithaross.com/2012/10/10/women-who-dare-2/#comments).

    So glad to hear you have an new group of admirers -- not surprised though!

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    1. I remember well that incredibly inspiring post of yours, Judith.
      Bisous.

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  4. Perfect Heather.

    As was said today, "We need to keep on marching.".....listening, helping, reaching out, reaching in.

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  5. I really appreciate your post today. Dr. King's message is especially important to review now. Sadly, some in our country are trying to roll back time and to take away the few strides toward equality that have been realized. Always a fan of your blog,
    Sally Leonard

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    1. I agree with you entirely. It saddens me to see the voice of hatred trying to roll back time, as you say. We all need to just do our best to be a positive light.

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  6. DearHeather,

    At the predictable risk of going more than usually off-topic?.....??????

    you (and everyone) should go to:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eleanor-longden/voices-in-our-heads-ted-talk_b_3791908.html?ncid=wsc-dl-cards-readmore

    I was reminded of Eleanor's speech when I read your comment "He spoke of how those that were not so long ago immediately shut away in asylums have much to teach us about what it is to be human."

    Just for the record?....I spent this evening having dinner with a parent who's been told that his daughter needs to "go on meds"
    (as we say these days) because she doesn't act "happy".....at age 12. I told him that she was a bright girl who had good reason to be sad (which is not the same as "clinically depressed") and PLENTY of good reasons to be anxious.....and she seemed to be expressing those emotions.....which seemed NORMAL & "Healthy" to me. Hiding them would constitute a "problem".


    In any case, Eleanor Longden (who's been put through diagnostic hell and come back to tell the tale) gives a good speech. Go to the link cited above
    ---david terry
    www.davidterryart.com

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    1. Thank you so much for that, David. What an amazing story and she is a riveting speaker. I am also, as someone who was already "complex" at the age of 12, deeply content that you spoke so clearly and simply to your friend about his daughter.

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    2. Oh, you're welcome, Heather. For what it's worth?....I used to teach (for fifteen years or so) at "good" boarding schools, where you could just assume that most of the students were from priviledged (sp?) backgrounds, intelligent, etcetera (and don't forget the matter of their having fully-insured parents). I distinctly recall the beginning of a Summer session (1990, I think) when all of the faculty were "warned" that we'd be having a student who was on Ridalin (sp?) for her "problems. Just five years later?.....in the establishment's never-ending quest to have Happy(!), "Healthy!", and "Achieving to Benchmarks!" students?????......I was one of the only three teachers who found it worrisome to note that half (I kid you not) of these students arrived with their Ridalin prescriptions in hand.

      I'm very lucky, I know, to have been raised in the Tennessee mountains (small town, by any standards) by parents who were perfectly content to let me, at age 12 or so, be as "weird" as I cared to be, as long as I didn't get myself killed and subject my family to the cost of a funeral.

      Oh...as an actress, you must have noticed that Eleanor wasn't using a teleprompter (at least I don't think so) and seems to have both written and memorized that long address? Or was she simply/astonishigly speaking extemporaneously? Sad to consider that she's a crazy piece of goods that should be institutionalized, isn't it? (do I need to stress that I'm being sarcastic/joking?)

      Level best as Ever,

      David

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    3. You know I really don't think that she used a teleprompter but that it was a speech that she had prepared and memorized beforehand. It is amazing what she has been through--that sense of being a survivor is especially interesting to me. And yes, how grateful I also am to have been completely allowed to let me freak flag fly--to wear ripped up 1950s prom gowns with old men's shoes, to shave off my hair to the point that I was called "Son"--all of it. That I could buy the Mozart Requiem and listen to it for hours while scribbling poetry. Thank Goodness. It certainly wasn't always easy for my folks either, we lived in some very conservative places. But what oh what would have happened to me if they hadn't let me go through all of that? It makes me shudder to imagine.

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  7. Hello Heather

    I just returned from a life drawing class at passed midnight and found this posting. I want to thank you sincerely. I have just finished listening to the Krista Tippett interview with John Vanier. Powerful, beautiful and so full of hope. I shall sleep peacefully. There are spectacular human beings in this world and some are bloggers


    Helen xx

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    1. Oh Helen, what a beautiful thing to say. I am a messy fragile thing!

      It must have been just lovely listening to his beautiful voice and message just before sleep. I should have known that you would appreciate his thoughts and faith.
      xo
      h

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  8. An incredible speech so glad that 50 years on it's resonance has not diminished. You may like these links too:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0395qvq

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23853578

    Heather I am East for a couple of weeks, will e mail you.

    XXX

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    1. Please do! Miss you friend. Am off to see your links, merci...
      Bisoussss

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  9. One of my favorite speeches.

    I made a point of going to Memphis and visiting the museum and the motel where he was killed. I think he must be one of the best orators ever...Thanks for the link x

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    1. That must have been an incredible experience, N. And yes, I agree with you, as an orator--I don't know if there has been a finer one than Dr. King.

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  10. Nowadays we would need more men like Dr.King..courageous, sincere, sacrificing , true to himself and never lose belief in his aims, Politicians with principles and ethic as Nelson Mandela was/is. Can we name only one?

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    1. Ethic and morals are two words that I have been thinking about lately, Mumbai, even before the anniversary of Dr. King's speech. Mr. Vanier mentions them also. We need to have some weakness in order to be truly strong.

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    2. Do you think people who are ethic are automatically moral? I believe in both and
      ethic is the foundation. Yet I didn't listen to the interview with Mr.Vanier but
      will comment it soon.

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    3. Hmm, a very good question!!! For me, I see it in the opposite way--that people who have morals behave in an ethical manner--but even if you Google quickly the definition of both you can see that both concepts are tied together!

      I love when such dialogues happen here! Merci Mumbai!

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  11. Jean Vanier brought me tears. I knew of L'Arche via Henri Nouwen. This was my first time to listen to Jean Vanier. If only we all had his compassion but as he says 'We are a frightened people'. Gallivanta

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    1. Yes, we are. There is so much of what he said, simple statements such as that but ring utterly true. I am going to try and listen to his interview again today--hoping that the words go in and stay there!

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  12. So much more can be accomplished with tenderness and love and patience. None of us has enough of these simple things. Because it all takes time, and time is what we all lack these days. Beautiful thoughts, Heather.

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    1. So beautifully said, my dear Marsha. To even just slow down to think about what we are doing, how we are being with others...

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  13. I heard about Jean Vanier and L'Arche in the past through Henri Nouwen. Thank you for the link to the interview. This is the first time I heard his voice. Jean Vanier is a "man of God and heard the "cry of God. I think Thomas Merton have mentioned Jean Vanier and L'Arche also in his writings.

    Martin Luther King's speech was very powerful.

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    1. You are the second person to mention Henri Nouwen, so I will take a look to see what I can find about him also, Edgar. And isn't his voice amazing. Every word is weighed and yet filled with the joy of true faith. It is amazing, just like Dr. King did too.

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  14. I watched the speech on Wednesday, soaking in every word. 50 years later and it's still as powerful as ever and still needed. Both my father and grandmother marched on Washington that day, and as I sat in my living room, watching the old black and white footage I felt proud knowing that they were both there somewhere deep in the crowd. I'm not going to lie, there were tears, but happy, proud tears x

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    1. Wow. Oh Sara that is amazing. You have every right to be extremely proud of your family legacy. They gave you the gift of their presence, too...

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  15. I deliberately didn't read or listen to the gathering in Washington this past week or listen again to Dr. King's speech because doing so breaks my heart to tears that through all this time, all this knowing, all this struggle we have accumulated, we as a nation and people globally, are not nearly as close to King's dream as I imagined we would be today. Instead, I see ego, segregation by choice, and fear that speaking truths will bring shouts of racism. I don't believe Dr. King's dream includes the divide I feel today. And it is sad, very sad.

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    1. Beautifully put. Of course, like many, I can't help but wonder where the world would be today if he hadn't been shot.

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