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Barack Obama

Martin-Luther-King-Jr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is easy for many of us to take for granted the second inauguration of President Obama today. The fact that this auspicious occasion happens to fall on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day underlines many reasons we should not. There is such satisfying symmetry in celebrating our black president’s reelection on this day.

Here in the U.S., there are four federal holidays honoring individual men. The other three so honored are of course George Washington, Christopher Columbus, and Jesus Christ. Imagine the conversation that might ensue should that celebrated foursome defy the boundaries of time and gather for a meal together. It is an interesting reflection of a country, with all our complexity and contradictions, to consider the heroes we collectively venerate.

Indeed President Obama’s ascent to the presidency, regardless of one’s personal political leanings, is a celebration of the conviction that race should not bar one from such office. However, Dr. King’s teachings on peace, his careful illumination of the path to end violence abroad and at home, is timely  – and as exceedingly difficult and PERSONAL today as it was then – or as it was centuries ago in the time of the Buddha.

May there be peace in our time, and may it begin in each of us.

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Never does hatred cease by hating in return;

Only through love can hatred come to an end.

Victory breeds hatred; the conquered dwell in sorrow and resentment.

They who give up all thought of victory or defeat

may be calm and live happily at peace.

Let us overcome violence by gentleness.

Let us overcome evil by good.

Let us overcome the miserly by liberality.

Let us overcome the liar by truth.

~The Buddha, Dhammapada

 

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