Monday, January 17, 2011

This red coat came with a beret.

The Flaco, coming inside one day and discovering the beret laying there on the floor, asked if he could wear it. I said Flaco, if you grow up to be a revolutionary, you can wear a beret. He said he would consider this.
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He used to ask for lullabies about Che Guevara*. I made up songs, about how El Che thought that he was doing good things, but he wasn't. He wasn't even Cuban and they called him the Butcher of Havana, sung with excessive amounts of tremelo. It didn't rhyme well but it had a decent melody. Half asleep, he would mumble, "Now sing to me about Stalin."
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He fights off sleep. I sing and sing. It's awkward.
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It's amazing how many there are. People, that is, who have convinced not only themselves but the masses that some things are worth anything. The line between good and evil is blurred beyond distinction. People will die for the chance to kill.
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My friend tells me it's a war. It's not wrong to kill when in war, she says. Sipping cups of tea, eating cookies. She tells me she's supposed to kill me. I think of Achmed and try not to laugh. I say please don't. She says no, I think I won't.
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She pauses for a while, then says "Well you want to kill me too." No I don't, I say. I don't at all. She doesn't believe me. I try to explain to her what Jesus taught. She says it's pretty words but that it's impractical.
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I wish we had another Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Crooked looks level until you see a plumb line. He walked so straight. Right was right, wrong was wrong. Simple, like you're told it's supposed to be. He said that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. He said that darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
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I visited my sister once when she taught in south Florida. It was carpet time; she was reading them a book about Martin Luther King, Jr. She read the first line: he was a preacher. HE WAS A PREACHER one of the boys hollered. CAN I GET AN AMEN!? Amen some of the kids called out. She turned the page, read that he saw the discrimination taking place. HE LOOKED AND HE SAW, CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH? the kid yelled. Hallelujah. I SAID CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH? Hallelujah amen.
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I think of that boy the third Monday of every January. I think of the man in the book, who didn't think he was smarter than God. The man who not only thought he was doing good things, but was. He said that the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.
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I think that's only true when there are people like him around.



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*When he was about a year and eight months, he made his first toast. He raised his glass suddenly, a little plastic cup of milk, and shouted "Que viva la gente!" and then drank. Long live the people. Who is he? Seriously.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that MLK day isn't celebrated by all schools, actually it upsets me. It would do good for all of us to learn more about the struggles that some had to endure.

Mr Tall

rolli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rolli said...

<3 this! Well done.