The world is changing before our eyes. It is hard not to be bogged down with the constant drowning negative flow of news, to the devastation of global atrocities, to the natural disasters claimed to be caused by an environment that we are destroying, to the rising of nationalism in politics, to the seemingly unattainable achievement of our celebrities/heroes and lastly to denunciation of unity and togetherness. Is this the world we want to leave to our children?
Martin Luther King (MLK) welded his ideas around the notion of peace, unity and equality. He believed it was our responsibility to help bring balance to these forces for the sake of our children – he argued that we should not trade the future of our to children for our own personal safety and comfort. We should have the courage to ignore our selfish desires and the valor to stand up for what we believe is equitable.
From 1966 to 1970 people had the courage to imagine different realities. Yes, LSD played a pivotal role in facilitating people to expand their consciousness. LSD allowed users to become aware of other realities – other paths that the human race could take. It also highlighted possible realities hidden from them by the elite, agencies and government. Let me be clear I am not advocating the use of drugs, only merely commenting on history.
The rise in consciousness started to be broadcasted through music like the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, through posters, fashion and festivals like Woodstock. These avenues helped spread the message of love and their movement of creating an enhanced reality. What was important about this counterculture was that it gave people a voice. It made people aware that in unity, they had a powerful voice to help invent the future they desired.
Politics was still the tool used to drive this change, but the unified voice of this counterculture made the public aware of the problems facing society, for example black rights, women rights, gay rights, environmental issues and civil rights. All these acts were passed due to courage of this unified movement from 1966-1970:
- Sexual Offences Act 1967 – decriminalized homosexual acts in private between two men in England and Wales
- Abortion Act 1967 – legalised abortions by registered practitioners in April 1968
- Fair Housing Act 1968 – paved the way for equal housing opportunities irrespective of race or national origin in the USA
- Unanimous decision on Loving v. Virginia in the USA confirming that all race-based legal restrictions on marriage were unconstitutional
- New Version of Race Relations Act 1968 – replacing unsatisfactory efforts of 1965 act in the UK
- Theatres Act 1968 – abolishment of theatre censorship in the UK, power of theatre censorship originally belonged to Lord Chamberlain
- National Environmental Policy Act 1970 signed by Nixon for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
There is a lot we can learn from these significant years. But where do we start?
We have to raise our consciousness. Not necessarily through drugs but possibly through action once described by Martin Luther King. The first step that I believe needs to be taken comes from a sermon given by MLK called “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart.” He calls for us to become tough-minded whilst being tenderhearted. It comes from a philosophical excerpt from the bible calling on us to have the wisdom of a serpent whilst being as harmless as the dove.
“Be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves”
He argues that advertisements and propaganda take advantage of our soft mindedness through attention grabbing slogans and our gullibility. That soft mindedness leads us to believe in superstitions and false truths (or in todays terms ‘fake news’). That dictators like Hitler use our soft mindedness to lead men to acts of barbarity and cruelty (think ISIS right now). That soft mindedness leads to racial prejudice (think racial, social class, women, LGBT prejudice today). That soft mindedness leads to the fear of change.
MLK judges a tough-minded individual to be one that listens to his or her own voice and reason. A tough-minded individual will look at the facts before reaching a conclusion. He or she will look at the bias from both sides, analyse the situation and make his or her own judgment. In short, MLK highlights that he or she “postjudges.” A tough-minded individual in MLK’s eyes is the man or woman that has the strong quality of “firmness of purpose and solidness of commitment.”
MLK reasons that a tough mind with no tenderness leaves a cold detached man or woman that lives life selfishly through the gain of only their own. A hardhearted individual never truly loves and uses people around them to further their own personal goals – viewing people as cogs in their own personal machine. Hardhearted people lack genuine compassion.
MLK does not describe what a tenderhearted individual actually is in this sermon. One can only imagine that a tenderhearted individual is one with altruistic ideas of love and unity at their core. Through the outpouring of love, the tenderhearted individual links himself or herself to the mainland of humanity.
I think what MLK is highlighting is that humanity cannot change or move forward without resonating with the ideas of tough-mindedness and tenderheartedness. I wholeheartedly agree with him. MLK is not only a true martyr for black people around the world, but also a martyr to us all. He imparted wisdom to us that if we want to predict the future we have to invent it through love and unity.
We cannot stay stagnant as soft-minded individuals. We cannot move forward together without tenderheartedness. If we are to all become tough-minded and tenderhearted, it starts with applying these ideas from within. This is how we raise of consciousness. Are we soft minded about our opinions of ourselves? Are we hardhearted about the opinions of who we are as an individual? It starts from loving ourselves first. It starts with looking at ourselves objectively and concluding that we are not on the path we wanted or intended to be on.
Once we become tough-minded and tenderhearted from within, then we can truly unify to stand up and invent the future that we, as a collective democratic society, desire.