Reflection from Sara Suman
We began our first full day in the South reflecting on Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, “The Trumpet of Conscience,” where he takes a public stand against the Vietnam War. Shortly after we caravanned to Ebeneezer Baptist Church for an 11:00 service. The Martin Luther King Sr. gospel choir sang a song based on King’s Dream speech, “Oh Lord, where would we be without this dream?” Well, here we are. As a country we have arrived at where we would be with out the dream. We are a nation without dreams. Was it Malcolm X that said we are “sleepwalking through history.” We’re sleeping and walking but we are not dreaming and we are not making any progress. I would venture to say we’re in the midst of a nightmare, a crisis. Iraq, what do we even call that now, intervention, occupation, war, absurdity?
Preparing us for what we will see when we get to the Hurricane affected areas, a Vietnam Vet told us that the devastation is worse than anything he saw in war. We met a social work student from Georgia State yesterday at the Georgia Free Radio station presentation. We’ve both worked in inner city middle schools where the rates of asthma are astronomically high due to poor air quality. How is this not a nightmare, a crisis? The question is, what is our call, our vocation in the midst of such crisis? I am inspired by King’s call to non-violent civil disobedience. In times of crisis we have to act. In another speech King uses the analogy of an ambulance. To maintain social order we normally obey traffic lights but in an emergency an ambulance must go through red lights to attend to a crisis. Right now we have a lot of red lights to speed through to address the crises of our time: militarism and war, racism, poverty and consumerism. Last year I protested the war in Iraq with an action at the Federal Building in Los Angeles. Lives are still being lost senselessly, the call to crisis remains. Sara Suman