Monday at Birmingham Jail

Please, please, please read the whole thing:

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants–for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?” We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham’s mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state’s segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad’s Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro’s frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible “devil.”

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies–a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle–have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as “dirty nigger-lovers.” Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful “action” antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather “nonviolently” in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Published in:
King, Martin Luther Jr.

The Magical Battle for America 1.20.29

Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  (No, really.  You really need to do this.)  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak and grasp an herb, stone, or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine and grow small hairs to attach to the mycelia in your own landbase.

Breathe.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Does your landbase have anything to tell you today?  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Breathe.

As you move to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky: Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work? Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable.  This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  What’s become familiar to you?  A tuft of prairie grass?  Buffalo off in the distance?  The scent of sand carried on the wind?  You’ve been involved in a months-long magical working here, joined with magic workers from across the globe.  Feel your connection to this place on the astral plane. It is always here for you, always a source of strength.

As you look to the Northwest, you see the Salmon Banner.  It grows larger and larger until it fills the entire sky.  It becomes three dimensional and you step into it, stopping beside a large rock near an icy stream.  There, you see the salmon returning to their birthplace, making sure that their children will be grounded in the same place where their race has come from since time immemorial.  There, the salmon children will learn and grow wise.  They will become strong and they will learn good values before they swim out into the wide ocean.

As you watch, one salmon swims to the water’s edge and asks you why some of America’s human children are failing to learn good values.  You shake your head and shrug.  Sit by the bank of the river and commune with salmon.  What can you learn from the salmon people?  What task do they give to you to help America’s human children?

When you feel that you have finished, thank the salmon and bid farewell.  Walk back out of the banner.

Breathe.

Slowly, come down from your hillock and begin to walk back to your own landbase.

Open your eyes.  Rub your arms and face.  Notice the detail that you selected to call yourself back.  Drink something, maybe warm chai or cold cider.  Have something to eat, maybe seaweed salad or some crackers..  Maybe you can set up a small altar dedicated to salmon,  (If so, please post a picture!!)  You may want to repeat this working several times this week.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art? If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

 

 

Justice Delayed (and the Feculent Executive)

6884707740_b3d0e4c28f_b

is justice denied.

We’ve all heard that old saying.  But what does it really mean?

One of the major benefits of our legal system is that it attempts to move us away from a pattern of retributive justice in which we demand “an eye for an eye,” in which you steal my pig so I steal five of your cows, in which you burn my barn, so I march on your town . . . with a pattern in which monetary compensation substitutes for the more brutal schemes.  Thus, if you drive recklessly and cause an accident where I lose an eye, you (and/or your insurance company) are going to pay me fair compensation for the loss of my eye.  And maybe a bit more to compensate me for my pain, and trouble, and suffering.  (After all, I had to miss a lot of work going to doctor appointments.)  But I am not going to come gouge out your eye.  If you break into my house and steal my silverware, you’re going to pay me back for the value of the silverware, the damage to my door, my cost for having to rent silverware for my daughter’s wedding which was scheduled for the next day, my legal costs for having to sue you, etc.  But I’m not going to break into your house and your brother’s house to steal a similar amount of silver.  If society gets it wrong and imprisons an innocent man, society can, at least theoretically, make it all right by paying him a few million dollars for those years that he lost.  But he and his relatives don’t get to illegally imprison a bunch of other people.

We will need to invoke the time value of money:  I may have bought the silverware for $2,000 ten years ago, but it’s going to cost more than that for me to go buy a new set today.  But we’ve figured out ways to address those sorts of issues, at least more or less.

It’s not a perfect system, but it’s better for all of us than the “rough justice” of retribution that obtained throughout much of human history.  It’s especially better for those of us unfortunate enough to, for example, live next-door to an arsonist.  When his victims showed up to burn HIS house, the fire sometimes spread to ours.  That left us to go burn THEIR homes, and well, as Ghandi said, pretty soon, the whole world is blind.  Or burned.

But there’s a problem when we come to the kind of crimes that simply can’t be given a dollar value.  Some damages can’t be calculated in terms of money lost, even with a bump-up for pain and suffering, even when we figure in the time value of money.

For example, the Constitution makes it illegal for any person who holds office to accept “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”  The goal of this provision was to keep our government free from interference by foreigners.  Americans shouldn’t have to worry that when, for example, the President decides to sign a treaty, ignore one foreign country’s invasion of another, or look the other way when a foreign country murders a journalist, that the president did so because the foreign country had bribed the president.  American citizens are entitled to believe that the president always acts in America’s interests.  This has led to presidents before Donald Trump either divesting their assets (Jimmy Carter famously had to sell his peanut farm to ensure that no one would question any of his agricultural policies) or placing their assets into a blind trust.  But Trump refused to do that.  And there’s evidence that, while he’s been in the White House, foreign countries and corporations have, for example, stayed in his hotels or bought properties in his buildings for amounts that only make sense if those transactions were designed to influence his decisions as president.  And there’s evidence that his decisions have followed suit.

There are several court cases that allege that Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, including one filed the day that he took office.  But as we all know, the wheels of justice can grind rather slowly, especially when one party (Trump) can hire lawyers to try and gum up the works.  And, so, here we are, two years into the Trump Interregnum, halfway through his first term, and those suits are still in the discovery phase.  Meanwhile, Trump has been free to make foreign policy in ways that appear designed to favor those who provide him with presents and emoluments.

There’s no real economic compensation that America can receive for this.

Even if Trump is finally found guilty (and if I were his lawyer, I’d move for dismissal on grounds of mootness the day he leaves office, leaving him with a nice sum in his purse for selling America’s foreign policy and setting up a nice precedent for future corrupt presidents), and even if a court were to calculate the amount of gifts and emoluments that Trump received (a Herculean task — how do you calculate how much of each night’s hotel stay was designed to buy favorable foreign policy and how much was the fair value a bed in DC?) and order Trump to refund the time value of those gifts and emoluments, that’s not enough.  The foreign policy has been made.  The Saudi princes got away with murdering journalists, China has now established long-term trading relations with South America’s soy bean farmers, Putin got away with invading the Ukraine.  American interests have been harmed in ways that simply aren’t amenable to dollar values.

Or, consider the possibility that Trump actively conspired with Putin to steal the White House.  Suppose that it turns out that the evidence clearly demonstrates that Hillary Clinton won the election, or would have done, absent Putin’s assistance.

What’s the monetary value of winning a U.S. election?  How do we unwind that?  There’s no way to figure out how much Trump should pay us for the lost value of the infrastructure programs that Clinton promised to enact within 100 days if elected.  How do we get him to recompense us for killing children in concentration camps, which Hillary wouldn’t have done?  What’s the value of the two Supreme Court seats the Republicans have stolen?  All the other federal court seats?  How much money must he pay for the bullying, sexism, and racism that his presidency has caused?  The list goes on and on.

In cases where the court can calculate the time value of damages, it supposedly doesn’t matter how long it takes for a case to wind its way through our system of justice.  (Of course, there are limits to this.  If my child dies from exposure to cold while appeals of my suit against you for burning down my home wind their way up and down the court system, no amount of money, despite the legal fiction that we can “value lives,” is going to make it all OK.  But, again, the value to society overall of avoiding the “so I’ll come burn down your home with your two children and your grandmother in it” approach is worth enough that we enforce this legal fiction.  And I get some value from the application of that fiction to others so I have to accept its application to me.)

But in those few cases, such as Emoluments and presidential treachery, where no legal fictions and actuarial studies can work out compensation, the courts and the legal system are — at the very least — required to move with more than due speed.  And this is where our legal system is failing us, and failing us badly. These are the cases in which justice delayed is truly justice denied.

The Emoluments Clause cases need to be on a rocket docket.  More than half of a term is not an OK amount of time to wait to find out if our president is selling foreign policy.  That issue needs to be determined almost instantly.  At the very least, a stay should have been imposed w/in 30 days.

And, although until a few days ago I’ve been a proponent of allowing Mr. Muller to take his time, dot his i’s and cross his t’s, work his way through the witnesses, I’m no longer OK with the amount of time that it’s taking him.  This isn’t, after all, about letting Mr. Muller prove (any more than the election was about letting Mr. Comey prove) his own great personal rectitude.  This is about saving America.  And if Mr. Muller has evidence that this Congress needs, evidence that Americans need, then he needs to release it, even if it comes with the warning that he may be working on discovering more important evidence.

Justice delayed is justice denied.

Our slow and careful system of justice works well for most cases, ensuring both sides that the courts took their time, gave everyone a chance to develop their cases, considered all the evidence, and reached a careful decision.  I’ve devoted my life to that system, spending many, many years on cases that ran from agencies, to appeals courts, to the Supreme Court, back down to the agencies and then again through the appeals courts, to large settlements, to the agency, and, finally, to benefits to consumers.  Damages in those cases included interest that sometimes doubled the original amounts.  But I’m also capable of determining when the delay works an injustice.

And that’s where we are today.

Mr. Muller, put your cards on the table.

Courts, expedite the Emoluments suits.

Finding out two, or three, or six years from now that Trump and Russia, Trump and Saudi Arabia, or Trump and China  fucked us over is justice denied.  We all took oaths, as young lawyers — if not as judges and prosecutors — to uphold the Constitution, with its promise that “we the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, [would act to] establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” and that promise imposes upon us, to this day, a solemn requirement.  

You can’t do any of those things if you sit for years and years upon a Feculent Executive.

Act.

Now. 

Picture found here.

 

We Love Women IN Power

Nancy Pelosi raising the Speaker's gavel

We just revile them for seeking it.

I can’t be the only one who’s noticed how dramatically the narrative about Nancy Pelosi has changed in the past month. While she was doing the caucus-building necessary to regain the speaker’s gavel, all we heard was:

“She’s too old! It’s time for new blood!”

“The Republicans hate her.”

“She’s too liberal. We’ll never regain the white working class voters who left us when we passed civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s with someone from San Francisco leadind the House Dems!” (Spoiler alert: It’s been 55 years. They ain’t coming back.)

“She’s not liberal enough!”

“She’s a drag on the party!” (Who led the efforts to get a 40-seat #BlueTsunami in a House whose districts have been so rigged by partisan gerrymandering that the Dems haven’t even had a realistic shot at regaining power in eight long years, but whatever, don’t let facts get the way of your sexist narrative.)

Now?

She REALLY IS playing nine-dimensional chest against a group of idiots who have yet to master the strategy behind tic-tac-toe.

The first bill introduced in the House, immediately after the 116th Congress went into session, was a massive package of voting reforms, trying to replace by law what the Supreme Court destroyed by fiat in Shelby County v. Holder.

The second bill introduced in the House, H.R. 51, is intended to rectify the largest, longest standing, most egregious voter disenfranchisement in the US. More than 700,000 of our fellow citizens have no voice in the laws that govern them merely because they live in Washington, DC, and this has been the case nearly since the city was founded in 1800. Know why? Racism. (For more on the background of this, check out Derek Musgrove’s excellent Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital).

TrumPutin set the trap for himself on his asinine government shutdown (credit where credit is due), but she sprung it, masterfully. And she continues to play him like a goddamn fiddle, all without mussing her Hermes scarf.

You still gonna tell me that the Dems should have handed that gavel to one of the interchangeable milquetoast white boys who wanted it? Or someone who’s in her first term in Congress and, while she’s smart and telegenic and highly skilled at using social media is still, bless her heart, getting basic facts about how the government works wrong? (Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure she’ll pick it up, see above RE: smart – but maybe she shouldn’t be in charge just yet.)

Yeah, we LOVE women IN power, we just don’t love them WANTING it or WORKING to get it.

Look at the entire history of Hillary Clinton in politics. When she’s campaigning (whether for senator, a cabinet position, or president) she’s a shrill, neo-liberal, corporate-owned, ethically-compromised bitch. When she actually wins office and gets to work? One of America’s most admired women, approval ratings above 60%, colleagues love her, efficient and effective.

We’re going to have to get over this in a hurry, folks, and by “we” I mostly mean the men (and some of the women) in the media. And liberal men in general.

The Democrats already have an excellent slate of women candidates running for president in 2020 who are both qualified (unlike Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina) and have a real shot at winning (unlike Shirley Chisholm, trail blazer and icon, may she rest in power). So far Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren have thrown their hats into the ring, and Kamala Harris is going to announce any second now, and she may not be the last. (No, I’m not forgetting Tulsi Gabbard, but hard pass on that dictator-loving psycho. I’d like a CHANGE from Trump in 2020, please.) Hillary may have been robbed of the presidency by TrumPutin and his minions working hand-in-glove with the Russians to laser target their campaign to steal the office for him, but her historic and unprecedented campaign fundamentally altered the realm of possibility for women in politics.

And we’re already getting the BS.

“People are asking if she’s likeable enough.” (Of course, men in the media are thinking: “Notice, I’M not asking, because I now know that that’s a sexist question, and I’m woke-wokeity-woke enough not to ask it directly myself. But I’m totally cool with incessantly reporting that OTHER PEOPLE are asking it. Those ‘other people’ might be Fox News, the Proud Boys, and QAnon, but hey, they’re people, right?”) (Debatable.)

“Elizabeth Warren is shrill. And too old.” (Somehow, shouty, ancient Bernie Sanders and older than dirt – and multi-time POTUS candidate failure – Joe Biden aren’t, of course.)

“Kirsten Gillibrand was mean to poor, poor Al Franken.” (Look, I still think what went down with Al was more than a little fishy, but here’s the thing – no one is indispensable, and we can’t be caught living in a glass house in this issue, which Kirsten CLEARLY understands.)

“Kamala Harris was a PROSECUTOR. Who put people IN JAIL.” (Sigh.)

Guess what? There’s significant research that women are actually better at governing than men. They sponsor more bills, they pass more laws overall and more laws that benefit women directly (which benefit families, which benefits all of us), they compromise better (tip: compromise is not a dirty word. Without it, government completely grinds to a halt, as we’ve seen ever since Newt Gingrich wrecked Congress), and they bring more money home to their own districts.

We have, obviously, no data on how this works for a woman president, but there’s no reason to think the skills women build and exercise climbing the ladder of elected office will sudden vanish when they win the top seat.

So people – and by “people” you know who I mean – pull your collective heads out of your asses, stop shitting your pants over women who seek power, and get on the bus, because these ladies are about to run your asses over if you don’t.

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

May the Goddess Guard Her. May She Find Her Way to the Summerlands. May Her Friends and Family Know Peace.

images

American poet Mary Oliver has died  and I somehow can’t stop crying.  Her poem When Death Comes has always been one of my very favorite poems.  I am certain it was exactly like this for her.

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

(Belated) Monday at the Movies

A movie about Queen Anne, the last Stuart ruler of England.  This is on my definitely-will-see list.

The Magical Battle for America 1.13.19

joshua_trees

Teddy Roosevelt was quite a character.  Like many of our ancestors, he did some very good things and some really rotten things.  One of the best things that he did was to set aside areas of American wilderness, to protect them, to make them available to all Americans who want to spend time in nature.  Subsequent presidents have preserved even more places.  For generations, thousands of rangers and other workers have kept those parks in good condition, preserving their natural beauty.

Today, those sacred sites are in danger, due to traitorous Trump’s government shutdown.  Without park rangers, forest workers, and others to protect them, many of them have been trashed.  Recent reports indicate that, in particular, Joshua Tree National Park in California’s Mohave Desert has been subject to terrible degradation, with the Joshua trees cut down to allow motorized vehicles to drive through previously-protected areas.

******************

Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  (No, really.  You really need to do this.)  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak and grasp an herb, stone, or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine and grow small hairs to attach to the mycelia in your own landbase.

Breathe.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Does your landbase have anything to tell you today?  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Breathe.

As you move to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky: Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work? Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable.  This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  What’s become familiar to you?  A tuft of prairie grass?  Buffalo off in the distance?  The scent of sand carried on the wind?  You’ve been involved in a months-long magical working here, joined with magic workers from across the globe.  Feel your connection to this place on the astral plane. It is always here for you, always a source of strength.

As you sit in power, look to the Southwest.  See the Cowboy Banner growing larger and larger until it fills the entire sky.  As you watch, it becomes three-dimensional and you find yourself riding lookout next to a silent cowboy.

Your horses pause from time to time to drink from a small stream or to crop some grass.  You are surrounded by silence and by the ancient joshua trees.  You ride quietly for some time, simply soaking in the quiet majesty of the place.  In the distance, you see a rider coming towards you.  As he nears, you realize that you have been joined by one of our American ancestors, Teddy Roosevelt.  He asks if you have seen anyone harming the wilderness area.  You shake your heads and Teddy smiles.  “Bully!” he announces and rides off, doing his best to protect this sacred space.  You continue to ride and, as you do, the land begins to speak to you.

What does it tell you about its need for protection?  What does it say about how humans can come into right relationship with it?  Does it have any special requests?  You may feel called to dismount and to kneel, or lie, or dance upon the land.  You may want to gently hug one of the trees.  What do they have to tell you?

When you feel that you have finished, climb back on your horse.  Wave to the cowboy and ride back out of the banner.

Breathe.

Slowly, come down from your hillock and begin to walk back to your own landbase.

Open your eyes.  Rub your arms and face.  Notice the detail that you selected to call yourself back.  Drink something, maybe melted snow or apple cider.  Have something to eat, maybe beef jerky or a handful of granola.  Maybe you can set up a small altar dedicated to preservation of our sacred wilderness.  (If so, please post a picture!!)  You may want to repeat this working several times this week.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art? If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.