This article appears in the January 22, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
LAROUCHE AND AMELIA ROBINSON
The Immortal Talent of Martin Luther King
Editor’s Note: These presentations were published in EIR, Vol. 31, No. 4, January 30, 2004, pp. 26-33.
Lyndon LaRouche keynoted the January 19, 2004 Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast sponsored by the Talladega County (Alabama) Democratic Conference. City Councilman Rev. Horace Patterson introduced the first speaker, civil rights heroine Amelia Boynton Robinson, the vice chairman of the Schiller Institute, who in turn introduced LaRouche.
Rev. Patterson: Before I present this gifted lady, I want to emphasize that she has been a civil rights activist ... [which] involves some tiring, tiresome work. You get tired; and when you get tired, strength is often zapped, because you not only have to deal with ignorance, you have to deal with stupidity. You can fix ignorance with knowledge. But it’s hard to fix stupidity. It’s hard to fix stupidity. And so often, in the arena of civil rights, you have to sometimes even fight with the people you’re trying to help. And this, of course, makes this lady so unique.
It is also a thankless task, from time to time. Many times, those who give of themselves, find themselves unappreciated. She was one of those people who made it possible for Dr. Martin Luther King to do the kinds of things he did. Many people who were there, understand. When it was time to register folk to vote, many times, many of us would go into their homes, and it was the first time they had ever registered to vote: And you have to promise—you’d say, “I’ll take of care of the baby, if you’ll go down and register. I’ll wash your clothes.” I’m serious! “I’ll cut your grass. I’ll do anything, if you will go down, and vote.” And so often, the people who did these kinds of things were never fully appreciated. Dr. King understood it, and therefore he mentioned it, when he received his Nobel Prize.
This whole work, also, is a threatening work. It is very, very dangerous work. Because the evil we face, is systemic. It is an old evil. And many times, it is dressed up in new clothing. But, it’s still the same old stuff.
Therefore, as we look at realities of civil rights activism, and we look at the hurdles that must be crossed, it makes this lady so unique. Mrs. Amelia Robinson was one of the persons who marched at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, on March 7, 1965. She was beaten so badly, they thought she was dead. It was a horrible, horrible day. I can speak to that: I was a young, 17-year-old kid, at that time. And I have such respect for those adults, who went through the horror, the horror of that hour—and yet, maintained a sweet and blessed spirit.
From the 1930s, Mrs. Robinson and her husband involved themselves in the fights for voting rights and property ownership, throughout the state of Alabama. During the 1960s, in her home in Selma, and her office, she often invited the King leadership team, Dr. King himself. And many times, they put together strategies that worked. In 1964, she was the first African-American female, but also the first female, who ran on the Democratic ticket for Congress.
Today, Mrs. Robinson is a leading member and vice chairman of the Schiller Institute, founded by Lyndon LaRouche and Helga Zepp-LaRouche in 1984. In April and May of 1990, Mrs. Robinson spent five weeks touring East and West Germany with the Schiller Institute, where she addressed thousands and thousands of German citizens about the lessons from the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On July 21, 1990, Mrs. Robinson was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Medal, honoring her lifelong commitment to human rights and civil rights.
Today—in her nineties! in her nineties! And I want to talk to her, before she leaves here: Whatever she’s been drinking, I want a bottle of it!—Today, in her nineties, Mrs. Robinson is still a vibrant, charismatic leader, touring the nation, and speaking for the Schiller Institute, on behalf of the principles of civil rights and activism.
Would you be kind enough to give a warm, Talladega County welcome to Mrs. Amelia Robinson?
Amelia Boynton Robinson:
‘Footprints on the Sand of Time’
That’s a beautiful tribute. But, that tribute makes me realize, that I still have a lot to do! God is not through with me, yet. And, I will be here. I happen to be in the B class. I never was supposed to be a very smart person—I’m in the B class. So, I’m going to be here! And, I hope, I will be here, to see every one of you become a registered voter, and use your vote, in order that we can destroy the evils that we have in our country.
And I believe that Martin is looking down now, Martin Luther King, who, to me, was just “Martin,” because I’m old enough for his mother. And when he came to Selma, people rejected him.
I believed we could make a type of plan, that we are going in different places, and we are going to get people to realize that a vote-less people is a hope-less people. And the only way that we are going to able to get our rights, is to get the ballot.
And, when we were small, we used to decide that we were going to make a resolution. And, of course, every year, the resolution was, “I’m not going to tell any more stories—or lies!” But I would like to see you make a resolution on this day: a resolution that, “I am going to become a registered voter,” if you’re not. Because, if you haven’t voted in two years, you’ve lost. That you are going to exercise your ability as an American citizen, and vote. I would like for you to make that resolution, this day, that you’re going to exercise your God-given right, and become a registered voter.
I worked with Dr. King, and I cried when he came to Selma. Because, on the street that my office was on, we had all of the professional African-Americans. Not one of them came to him, and said, “Thank you for coming.” “I am glad that you’re here.” “I would like to give you a drink of water.” Or, “I would like for you to come to my house.” Nobody!
Because, you have evil against good. And the people who were evil feared our getting together, because they were successful in dividing and conquering. So, they said, “Don’t have Dr. King to come into Selma”—they even called me—”because he’s a rabble-rouser. He’s an agitator. He’s a Communist!” And most of them didn’t know what Communism was, but that’s what the white folks said, so “we’re not going to have anything to do with him.”
And some of these professional people closed their doors. And the only place he had to go, was to my office, and to the house; so I turned everything over to them. And thank God, out of that came, as you know, not only Resurrection City, but also, March 7, which was known as “Bloody Sunday.”
So, I would like for you to make that resolution, this day, that you are going to follow in the footsteps of Dr. King—the little thing to register, vote, and become a first-class citizen.
He was rejected. But so was Christ. Mahatma Gandhi was rejected. Kennedy was rejected. Martin Luther King was rejected. But all of them left footprints on the sand of time.
But, you know, God has leaders to take up the helm, and to have somebody to carry it on. And we have, this day, a man who is walking in the footsteps of all of these people: a combination of trying to right the wrongs.
Unfortunately, we went to sleep after 1965. In 1967, people got positions, and they fought for it. But, the young generation feels as though it has everything made. We don’t have to do—we can go in any hotel; we can go into any restaurant. We don’t have to sit in the back of the bus. But, you don’t have it made! The evil spirit, like a mold—I don’t know whether you know anything about molds, or not; but, in my grandmother’s home in South Carolina, we would see the ground breaking. We couldn’t see what was under it, but it was something like a mold. And, as it goes along, it breaks the ground. So, you don’t be like the mold. You come up to the top, and break the ground, and break out! Because, self-esteem is something that everybody can have. You are your brothers’ keeper, you are God’s child.
God Makes Leaders
And, we know that we have to have leaders. This is something that I would like for each and every one of us to realize: that leaders are not those that feel that, “Well, I want to be a leader tomorrow. And I’m going to lead.” God makes leaders. And we refine those leaders. Thank God, that we are now at the place where we don’t look at the color of the skin, but the contents of a man’s character, regardless of who he might be.
But, we have to fight hate! And, I am so happy that the gentleman whom I am standing beside, is a man who will tell anybody: Hate does not help! Hate only destroys the hater!
It used to be a time, that people of color were hated because of the color of their skin. But, hate is like—it’s like a cancer. It starts, sometimes, with just a little pimple. And, if you don’t stop it, it grows. It grows into a sore. Then it takes over the whole body. And that’s what hate has done. It’s not because of the color of a person’s skin that people are hated now, only. It’s gone into our cities, our counties, and even our nation: They hate!
And this is one man: Talk with him, day or night, wake him up, and he’ll tell you, that love can overcome everything; that we have to love. We have to look at the person’s inside. And I am very proud to say, that this gentleman is a man that I have known for many years. And it’s not because of what somebody said. Like Martin: When Martin Luther King, before he came into Selma, Martin Luther King was told, “Don’t go into that section.” He was hated. But, he did what he was supposed to have done. And that is, what God had him to do. And then, He took him away. If he were living today, maybe, the rabble-rousers might have killed him mentally, rather than physically. But he did the job, that God had him to do.
And I think of people as—let’s say, a school: Here, the teacher comes in, and says, that “I’m going to give an examination today. And I want you to take your papers and pencils out. And we’re going to have an examination.” Okay, in this class, you have Martin Luther King; you have Mahatma Gandhi; you have many other people, including the Kennedys, including Lincoln. You have Lyndon LaRouche—and, because of my age, you’ve got me!
Then, she passes out the examination. Then, she says, “Now, I want you to be sure that you’re quiet, and do your work.” And, as soon as she turns her back, you find, let’s say, Martin Luther King: “Miss Teacher, I’ve finished.”
“Bring your paper up here.” She looks at it. “You have a perfect score. You may pass on.” And he passes off of the scene of this Earth, and God says, “Come up a little higher. You’ve done a good job.”
The Kennedys, 15 minutes afterward, the same thing. “Okay. You’ve got a good score. You may pass.”
But, 40 minutes pass—the time is only 45 minutes—40 minutes pass. Many of the people have finished their examination, and they pass on. Forty-five minutes pass, the bell has rung—and Lyndon LaRouche and I are still working!
So, we are here for a purpose. And I am so happy to see a man, that knows no color. He’s color-blind. He is working for people, for the human race. And he realizes that we are our brothers’ keeper, whether we are on this side of the ocean, or the other side. And he realizes, also, unless people throughout the world begin to recognize people, justice, understanding, love, humility, then we have not completed our job.
So, I introduce to some of you, present to others, the man that God has ordained as a leader for people throughout the world: Lyndon H. LaRouche.
Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.
Thank you, young lady. Oh, thank you Amelia! She’s very special to us, and to my wife—when I say “we”—my wife, as well. She’s been like a mother to my wife. And she’s been precious.
We have two problems, I think, which should be the basis for reflecting on Martin’s life, today. One, we have a national crisis. Now, I’m not going to mince words; and I’m not going to do any political hacking. But the facts have to be told. This economy is collapsing! The situation, relatively speaking, in terms of basic economic infrastructure, of the United States today, is worse than in 1933, when Roosevelt came into the White House, in March.
That is, you look around you: infrastructure, energy, so forth; the conditions of life of our people, around the world; and don’t look in the big cities, where they put on a façade, and say, “Things are fine.” Look in the communities. For example, Detroit, now, has half the population it used to have. An industrial city is gone. Look around Birmingham, you see how the same thing is reported. It was never rich. But, their sense of loss, of loss, of loss, of this, of that: That’s the situation of the United States.
Then you get an indifference, an indifference to the problems of the United States. We have 48, at least, of the 50 states are bankrupt, hopelessly bankrupt. That is, the states can not possibly raise the tax revenue, without sinking the economy further, to meet the essential obligations of government. This is characteristic of at least 48 states.
And it’s getting worse.
‘We’re in Trouble’
If you look at the cost of living, the increase of the cost of living, as compared to what is officially reported, look at the prices of food in grocery stores, over the past six months, in the United States.
Look at the fact that the U.S. dollar—not long ago, 83 cents would buy a euro; today it takes a $1.26 or $1.28 to buy a euro. The U.S. dollar is collapsing in value.
What is increasing, is the amount of money associated with gambling. And the biggest form of gambling is occurring on Wall Street. The money is going to drive up—in a purely speculative way, on side bets on the economy—to drive up the value of stock prices for some companies. And, as soon as some company gets rich, the leaders of the company go to prison, like Enron. Because we have gone from the “steel” business, to the “stealing” business. The nature of the economy.
We’re in trouble. We’re in trouble on a world scale. Since January of 2002, when the present President made an unfortunate speech, in the State of the Union Address, the attitude toward the United States, has fallen rapidly to the lowest I’ve ever seen, among nations all over the world. Throughout Eurasia, throughout the Americas, the United States is despised, where it was still at least respected, or even loved, before. We are in trouble.
And look at the world. The world faces a great crisis. And the United States faces a great crisis, in dealing with the world. The largest concentrations of population of the world are China, for example, at one point, 1.3 billion or more; India over 1 billion; then you have Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the countries of Southeast Asia: This is the greatest concentration of population on this planet. It’s an emerging part of the world. The question is, what’s the relationship of the United States to these people of Asia, who represent, by and large, different cultural backgrounds, than those of us in the United States or in Western Europe?
How are we going to find peace in a troubled world? How are we going to find reconciliation in a troubled world, with countries which have turned against us, because of the war policies of [Vice President Dick] Cheney and some others?
So, we face the situation.
Now, go back a little bit, to the time that Bill Clinton was inaugurated as President. Now, think about something some of you know about: Think about the status of the Black Caucus, Legislative Caucus, or Black Congressional Caucus, in 1993, when Bill Clinton came into the White House. Now—go through the list of names: Where are those people, and their replacements today? There has been a winnowing out of the political achievements, throughout the country, of the black caucuses.
This is the problem I deal with constantly, actually from 1996 on. It became worse, accelerated. Brutally.
The Significance of Martin Luther King, Today
So, we do not face a new problem today, in one sense. We face the same problem, in principle, that Martin faced. And faced successfully. And I would propose, that in the lesson of Martin Luther King, and his life, there is something we can learn today, which brings him back to life, as if he were standing here, alive, today. There’s something special about his life, his development, which should be captured today, by us, not only in addressing the problems of our nation, which are becoming terrible; but the problems of our relationship with the world as a whole. How are we going to deal with these cultures that are different than our own? With an Asian culture; with the Muslim cultures around the world—over a billion Muslims around the world; with the culture of China, which is different than ours; the culture of Southeast Asia, which is different than ours; the culture of Myanmar?
They’re all human. They all have the same ultimate requirements, the same needs. But, they’re different cultures. They think differently. They respond to different predicates than we respond to. But, we must have peaceful cooperation with these people, to solve world problems.
Then you start thinking about someone like Martin. And I want to indicate, in the context I just stated, what the significance of Martin is, today. We had no replacement for Martin, lesson number one. Martin was a unique personality. He was not a talented person who happened to stumble into leadership, and could be easily replaced by other leaders who would learn the job, and take over afterward. We had no replacement. No one in the position to replace him. Many wished to be—they didn’t have it.
What did Martin have? What was the essence of Martin, that made him something special? Let’s compare three cases, to get at this. One, Martin himself. The other, the case of France’s famous heroine, Jeanne d’Arc—and I’m rather familiar with the details of the actual history of the Jeanne d’Arc case, which is comparable, in a sense, a very special way, to the case of Martin. And then, also, with a fictitious case, but which points to the problem we face: the case of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, especially the Hamlet of the Third Act soliloquy.
Now, what was the issue? Martin was truly a man of God. Truly. In a way that very few people are actually able to realize in their lifetime. It wasn’t just that he was a man of God: It’s that he rose to the fuller appreciation of what that meant. Obviously, the image for him was Christ, and the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That was his source of strength. He lived that. He had gone to the mountaintop, at a point that he knew his life was threatened by powerful forces in the United States. And he said, “I will not shrink from this mission, even if they kill me.” Just as Christ said, and I’m sure that was in Martin’s mind, at that point.
The Passion and Crucifixion of Christ is the image which is the essence of Christianity. It’s an image, for example, in Germany, or elsewhere, where the Bach St. Matthew Passion is performed. It’s a two-hour performance, approximately. In those two hours, the audience, the congregation, the singers, the musicians, re-live, in a powerful way, the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ. And this has always been important: To re-live that. To capture the essence of what Christ means, for all Christians. And Martin showed that.
The difference is this—and I’ll come back to Jeanne d’Arc (or call it, Joan of Arc, in English). The difference is, most people tend to believe, “Yes, I wish to go to Heaven,” or something like that. Or, don’t. Don’t care. But, they are looking for answers within the bounds of their mortal life. They’re thinking of the satisfactions of the flesh. The security they will enjoy, between the bounds of birth and death. Whereas, the great leader, like Martin, rises to a higher level. They think of their life, as the Gospel presents it, as a “talent.” That is, life is a talent, given to you: You’re born, and you die. That is your talent, what you have in that period. The question is, you’re going to spend it anyway. How are you going to spend it? What are you going to spend it for, to secure for all eternity? What are you going to do, as a mission, that will earn you the place you want to occupy in eternity?
Martin had a clear sense of that. That mountaintop address, for me, struck me years ago—clear: It was just a clear understanding of exactly what he was saying; what he was saying to others. Life is a talent: It is not what you get out of life; it’s what you put into it, that counts.
Martin had that. That’s why he was a leader. And I’ve known many of the other leaders with him in that period. They didn’t quite have the same spark. They may have accepted the idea. They may have believed in it. But, it didn’t grip them the same way it did Martin. And it came to grip him, I’m sure, more and more, as he took on more and more responsibilities. As a leader, you feel this. You see your people. You see the things you have to cope with, the suffering; you see the danger. And you have to find within yourself the strength, not to flinch. Not to compromise.
The Martyrdom of Joan of Arc
Take the case of Jeanne d’Arc, to the comparison—Joan of Arc, as she’s called. This is the real history: She was such a significant figure, in the 15th Century, that her history was thoroughly documented at the time, and cross-checked and so forth. She was a figure in all Christianity. She was a key figure in the history of France.
Here she is, a woman, a young woman, coming from a farming background, who is inspired to believe that France must be freed from the terrible occupation of the Norman chivalry; that France must become a true nation. And that it must be risen out of its condition, to become a nation, to take care of these problems; that God wished this to happen. So, she went, through a series of events, to a Prince, who was the heir, nominally, to the throne of France. And she said to this Prince—having gotten in there with various credentials—“God wants you to become King.” And he looked at her, and he said, “What do you want from me?” She said, “I don’t want anything from you. God wants you to become a King.”
And so, because of her power, of her personality and her mission, the King gave her the command of some troops, in a very serious battle at that time, under the assumption that she would be killed, as the leader of these troops, and that would settle the whole problem. She wasn’t killed. She won the battle! Personally leading the battle!
And, France was mobilized for the idea of its independence, to a large degree, as a result.
Then the time came that the Prince was crowned King. But then the King betrayed her to the enemies of France, to the British, the Normans. And she was put on trial by the Inquisition, which is a horrible thing. This is the worst kind of injustice you can imagine. And in the course of the trial, she was offered bait: “If you will back off a little bit, girl, we won’t burn you at the stake, alive.” And she said, “No.” She flinched—”Maybe I should compromise.” She had priests in there, trying to get her to compromise. She said, “I won’t compromise. I can not betray my mission.”
She had gone to the mountaintop. “I will not betray my mission. I will stay my course.”
So, they took her. They tied her to a stake. They piled the wood on the stake. They set fire to the stake, while she was alive. They cooked her to death. Then, they opened the pile of wood, to see if she was alive or not; they found she was dead. And they continued the process, restarted the fire, and burned her, into ashes.
But, out of that, two things happened. Out of that, France revived and got its independence. And later, got the first modern nation-state of Louis XI, that is, Louis the Eleventh of France. And the significance of that is this, for us today: Because of that victory, because of what happened with Louis XI of France, we had the first European state, in which the government was responsible for the general welfare of all of the people.
The general welfare, means exactly what it means in I Corinthians 13, when Paul writes of agapē; or what we sometimes call “love,” or “charity.” It’s that quality. It is not the law, it is not the rule-book, that counts. It’s your love of humanity that counts. That you must always live for your love of humanity. And therefore, government is not legitimate, except as government is efficiently committed to the general welfare, of not only all of the people, but also the improvement of the condition of life of their posterity.
And, for the first time, in France, with that state, the principle of constitutional law, that government can not treat some of the people as human cattle—it is not legitimate; it is not a nation, if it treats some of its people as human cattle—it must think of the general welfare of all of the people. It must be captured by a sense of responsibility to all of the people and to their posterity.
Because we’re all mortal. And to arouse in us the passions, while we’re alive, which will impel us to do good, we have to have a sense that our life, and the consuming of our life—the spending of our talent, is going to mean something for coming generations.
The best people look for things—like Moses—that are going to happen, when he will no longer be around to enjoy them. It’s this sense of immortality. It’s why parents, in the best degree, sacrifice for their children. It’s why communities sacrifice for education, for their children, for opportunities for their children. You go through the pangs of suffering and shortage, but you have the sense that you’re going someplace, that your life is going to mean something. That you can die with a smile on your face: You’ve conquered death. You’ve spent your talent wisely, why life will mean something better for generations to come.
That was the principle! That principle inspired the man who became King Henry VII of England, to do the same thing against the evil Richard III, and establish England, at that time, as the second modern nation-state.
In a sense, that’s what Martin was doing, the same kind of process.
Hamlet, and the Problem with Education
But, now, let’s take the other side of the thing. Let’s take the case of Hamlet: Hamlet says that we have the opportunity to fight, to free ourselves from horrible conditions, but! But, what happens after we die? What happens beyond death? And, it is the fear of what happens beyond death, which makes people cowards: And, that is our problem, in the United States, today! It’s the problem of our leadership in the Democratic Party. It’s the problem in the Republican Party, because not all Republicans are bad. Some of them are very good. I intend to incorporate some of them in my government. I’m not very partisan, when it comes to government. I’m partisan about getting it established.
So, that’s the point. The problem here is this: [Most Americans do not] actually believe that man is different than an animal. Do you think, in the schools today, in the newspapers today—do you think that Americans believe, in any significant way, that man is different than an animal?
We don’t teach that. Look at our standard curriculum. Many of you know something about education. What our education policies are now, nationally, are a crime. You don’t know anything—you learn to pass a test! And you wonder if the person who designs the test knows what they’re talking about. Tests are issued in various parts of the country, not to test what you’ve done to the students, in terms of what they know. Sometimes the students come out, saying, “I know nothing.” Honor students say, “In my years in secondary school, I learned nothing!” The way it’s being taught now, under the standard now.
What they’re testing is the obedience training of the students, in that school district, or that part of the country, as measured by some standard. Districts are competing for money! And the performance, like the dog training, of the students in the school becomes a standard, for how much money and how many honors that district will get in the following year.
We’re no longer concerned. We don’t believe, as a nation—we don’t believe in developing people! We have become like Rome, ancient Rome, a society of “bread and circuses.” Get your crumbs, and be entertained. And the entertainment gets more and more vicious as it goes along.
For example, today, do people work? Is their mentality one of working? Do they believe in work? Do they believe the society gives them the opportunity to work? No. It doesn’t. It gives them the opportunity to get some money.
What is the biggest growth industry in the United States? Gambling. What is Wall Street? Gambling. What is Enron? Gambling. What’re these guys that are going to jail in New York? Gamblers.
The mentality of the country is that if you’re getting lucky, and winning the lottery, and winning at the track, that you’re getting ahead. Even though your industry is collapsing, your farm is gone, the city government can no longer afford to take care of your essential needs: We’ve gone into becoming a gambling society.
We rely on what? Mass entertainment! What kind of mass entertainment? Isn’t this something you really should be ashamed of?
We no longer regard human beings as human. We no longer understand what is human.
I started a youth movement, some four years ago. It concentrates on young people 18-25 years of age, that is, the university age-group. And, as you know, people, when they get to about 18-25, under normal conditions, have passed over from thinking of themselves as adolescents—as being half-adults/half-children—into becoming, in a sense, adults. They have adult confidence, adult impulses, and so forth....
If man were an ape, for example, the population of human beings on this planet would never have exceeded several million individuals. So, don’t make a monkey out of man. We have now over 6 billion people on this planet, to take care of—and they’re growing. The point is that man has been able to discover what no animal can do: To discover universal physical principles of the universe, to apply these discovered principles to make improvements in society, which increases man’s power over nature, just as you can read in Genesis 1: man and woman made equally in the image of the Creator, in the likeness of the Creator, and responsible for this function. That’s what we are.
When we teach physical science, when we teach Classical art, and when we teach history from that standpoint, we are actually imparting to young people, a sense of their humanity. They are capable of re-enacting the great discoveries of principle from the past, whether in art, or whether in physical science. When they know that, they know the difference between themselves and the beast. They pride themselves on this, and they say, “We’re human.” And they can look at each other with love, a kind of love which is expressed in education by the proper kind of class, in which students share in the process of fighting through the act of discovery for themselves, a principle presented to them as a challenge and a paradox.
I mean, there’s a loving relationship, a class of the size of 15-25, typical, good university, good secondary school class; in which the students are given the responsibility, given a challenge, to try to fight it through among themselves. And, the good teacher tries to evoke this kind of response from among the students, find two or three in the class that’ll start the discussion; and try to get the entire class involved in the discussion. So that, what comes out of that is not memorizing something in a textbook. What comes out of that, is the process of a social experience of discovering the meaning of a principle, as if they had made the original discovery themselves. This is done, not by teaching the individual student (although that sometimes works)—it’s done by getting the students to interact, in the process of discussion!
That’s why you want a class size of between 15 and 25. Not too many, to exclude the opportunity for people to participate. Not too few, so you don’t get the stimulation of starting the discussion. But, it’s this social process of relationship, among people who love each other, in a higher sense, because they have shared the process of discovery of a principle; or they’ve understood something about history. But, they shared it! And, the idea of sharing human knowledge, as human knowledge, is the essential act of loving. And you love mankind, and you’re happy with mankind, when you have worked together to make a discovery together with people.
And you realize you can rely on those people for that kind of method. You got a problem with them? Well, go back to the method. Talk to them, the same way you do in a classroom. Fight it out with them. And these young people are fun: They fight it out, until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. I usually—you know, when I give a lecture with these guys, they go at me for about four hours. I give them about a one-hour presentation, or something like that, and they’re at me—they’re at me, all over the place! But, it’s beautiful! It’s wonderful! And, I think anybody who’s been in education, knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s beautiful—it’s wonderful.
So, this is the problem: We have a population, we have a world, in which there’s a shortage of people who actually understand, fully, the meaning of the difference between man and beast. That man is a creature, as defined by Genesis 1, is made in the likeness of the Creator of the universe.
This is us!
Because we transmit these ideas, because we transmit this work as no animal can, we love one another. We love the people who come before us. We love those who are coming after us. We care for them. In a very selfish way: Because, in our spending our talent of life, our sense of beauty depends upon what was coming out of our life, in future generations. We love children for that reason. They’re our children. We love grandchildren, even more than children, sometimes. Because, our children were able to produce these children—that’s great! I mean, you love them specially. Particularly, a person becomes a grandparent, they love these grandchildren especially for that reason.
So, this kind of loving is lacking, generally, in the population, in leaders.
Reach the ‘Forgotten Man’
Martin obviously had that. Martin was one of the rare people, in his time, who had a deep sense of what it is to be a human being. Who had a deep sense of the lesson of the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ. He was able to bring to politics—which he didn’t go into to get in as politics, as such—he was a natural leader. The natural leader is one, who comes not from the political process as such, but from the people. Martin never achieved political office. Yet, he was probably as important a figure of the United States as any modern President. He achieved that. His authority, as a leader, came from the people. He fought against the people, and with the people, to free them. He was a leader, in a true sense. His power as a political force, in the nation and in the world, came from his relationship to the people.
And, that’s our situation, today. And why I’m so glad to be here, and have this opportunity to be with you: Because you typify those who are struggling, in this country and abroad, for the so-called “forgotten man,” as Franklin Roosevelt was summoned, in 1933, to the Presidency. Eighty percent of the population of the United States, in particular, and many around the world, are the forgotten man and woman. Nobody really cares about them. Take the case of health care, the health care history; take the case of all kinds of things.
The only way you can renew a nation—as Martin made a great contribution to renewing the United States—is, you have to go to the forgotten man and woman, especially to the “have-nots,” and if you can express a loving attitude, toward the problem of the have-nots, those who are in the lower side of life, then you are capable of representing the principle, upon which modern government should be based. The same principle that Jeanne d’Arc made possible, in a sense, in her contribution to the emergence of France as the first modern nation-state, committed to the general welfare.
If you want to be a true politician, you must be committed to the general welfare. You must be committed to mankind. And to be committed to mankind, is to look at the person who’s in the worst condition, in general—and uplift them! Then, you really have proven, that you care about the general welfare. If you don’t go to those people, you’re not with the general welfare. If you don’t have your roots in a fight for the general welfare, you’re not capable of leading our nation, which is a nation Constitutionally committed to the general welfare.
Martin had that.
All the great leaders of history have usually come out of that kind of background. They were not born leaders. They were not elected to be leaders. Some of them became elected, in the course of life. But, they didn’t start out and establish their leadership by being elected. They established their leadership, by finding their roots in the struggle for the well-being of humanity. They became the representatives of some groups, struggling for that right; or, advocate of that group, struggling for its rights. And they rose to a position of leadership, because they had the moral character, built into them, in the image of the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ.
And, as they get deeper into the business, and it becomes more dangerous, as they get more influential—life does become more dangerous, as you become more influential—then they realize that they are risking their life. And, they have to ask themselves: “For what am I going to risk my life? For what will I not? What will I not betray, even at the cost of losing my life?”
And, you’re thrown right back to the question of the Crucifixion and Passion of Christ.
The Passion of a True Leader
And that’s where we are today. Martin had that. The problem in the United States, and the movement today, is we have, in the movement itself, become—shall we say—“civilized” in “going along to get along” with the political establishment. And, it’s in tending to believe that the road to success is “going along to get along,” you lose sight of the passion which should motivate the true political leader. The passion is this commitment: You have a talent. You have a sense of what your life means. You have a sense of obligation, a mission in life to uplift the nation, by uplifting a certain part of the population, or all of it.
And you will do nothing to betray that! That gives you power: It gives you the power of being a creature made in the image of the living Creator. You tap it. Martin tapped it. He was a man of God—not just by God, but of God. He was a man, who in the course of life, destiny gave him the mission of being a man of God. And, he had the strength to do that. He had the strength to walk the road of Christ. To walk through Gethsemane. To walk through the Crucifixion. He had that strength, as Jeanne did, in her own way.
And, that’s the lesson, I believe, that has to be taught, has to be understood, if we’re going to save this nation. We need to tap into that power. And, as I say, of all the images of recent political leaders of the United States, Martin, both as a national leader, and as a world leader—which he also was, in terms of his influence—is the best example of the kind of personality who we must have, and must develop, to get us out of the horrible, frightening mess that threatens us today.
Thank you, very much.
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