I don't know what life was like before MLK. I don't know what life was like before Malcolm. I was too young to have experienced either. I know what life was like in my own household - with parents whose minds didn't need much prodding to know what they wanted for me. You see, I cannot imagine that either of those men's minds were full of ideas that never existed before - that their's was an era of great ideas and ours is not. That before them there was nothing and after them only wakes. There is right and wrong. There is stasis and chage. There is grey and hesitation. But there is not progress and there is not regression.
Some minds are easy to change when they are wrong, such are the minds that bear up our civilization. Some minds refuse to change when they are wrong. Do the combinatorics and calculate the percentages on every subject and you might know the state of the world, but I think the Buddhists and Stoics are right to eschew such global scheming and live in the moment.
A field of red white and blue shivers on the Mall listening to poetry. I heard the iams from the television stumbling my way to the refrigerator this King Day morning. As foolish as I find the very idea of consecrational poems coming from minds younger than those to be consecrated, I heard two words from that fresh face in the January air: 'many prayers'. Many prayers. Many prayers.
Prayer is contemplation of the ultimate in deep meditation. A prayer must take effort because if it can be anything, it is a reckoning with what we know to be true. A prayer must be at long last an acknowledgement and submission to profoundest truth - the truth that serves no man but upon which man's survival depends. In the manner of Christian ethics we submit to God's Grace which flows eternally and we neither earn nor deserve. It is what it is and in prayer it is up to us to recognize. That requires effort and discipline.
A prayer is not a request. That is a wish. Time spent in preparation for the fulfillment of or arguments in defense of a wish is not prayer, but wishful thinking. Imagining the circumstances under which case the wish comes true is dreaming. It is a fancy, a phancy, a fantasy and the conjures up the fantastic.
It is often difficult to bridge the space, or quite literally to explain the materiality of change between what has been dreamt and what has been prayed for. We say that dreams come true. We say that prayers are answered. These are passive voice sentences which the human mind attributes any actor in range. God gets most of the blame and praise because a studied God makes more sense than aggregated superstitions and chances. But the instruments of fate are still illusive to us; many claim to be God's hands in action, but we are wise to cast suspicion on such bold pronouncements. Who among us is God's prophet? I dare you.
Men can scheme. Men can plan and discipline themselves to the tasks of a plan, and make manipulations suitable to the aims of any scheme. We can do so in sunlight or in shadow, but our consequences are real no matter how. We succeed and fail by measurable degrees. We can gauge men's plans and schemes and know who did what according to which plan and under what scheme which tasks were done and which left undone. This is in great contrast to Acts of God, which is nothing more or less than the unfolding of the truth of the Universe, the forces on every boson that ever was, whose materiality is an uncalculable mystery shrowded in infinite distance and unparsably minute fragments of time. But the dramas that guide men's lives and fortunes - we process them swiftly. We inutit it in the arch of an eyebrow. We interpret it in the slouch of a walk. We smell it in desparate breath. We see it written in blood. We know when a family is broken and we know who to blame. We know when a business is collapsed and we know who blew the cash. We know when a building is crumbled or erected, a baby born or a body buried. We know the fathers and mothers of mankinds deeds. We know them because we are them and we know the truth of ourselves whether or not we are apt to admit it.
One of Cobb's Rules is to never underestimate the intelligence of people in power, and over the past few years, since I have abandoned the ebb and flow of politics itself, I have come to understand more about the mind and of psychology. I have come to a clearer undstanding of those deceptions that are planned and those that are products of indiscipline or our mere ability to be fooled. And I pay attention to how we backtrack to explain what appears to be.
One of the great deceptions is that dreams and prayers are as powerful as scheme and plans. They are not, nor will they ever be, because power is always in the hands of men, and never in the hands of chance. Not even in orbit above the planet are tons of equipment held aloft by chance. Don't imagine that your earthly fate is either, my friend.
Whomever is speaking, however close or distant from the truth, they will offer dreams or schemes. They will present players or prayers. Plans are the affairs of man from which we can annex action to actor - the rest is the working of wishful thinking, fantasy and the dreams of romantic poets, the seductions of youthful lips whispering wanted whims. And this is now as it has ever been.
Why do minds change, how do we see the world anew? Is it from a review of our plans, assessment of our tasks, calculation of forcasts versus actuals? Or is it a estimation of dreams come true, fantasies realized, prayers answered?
I have presented this on a day set aside from work to celebrate a dream, but now that it's done, I am going back to work.