The Evolution of Style

I don’t care what you wear: wear it well. While this post mainly focuses on: the historical evolution of dress, Dandyism, and inevitably, literature, I hope the reader will forgive me, if, from time to time, I relay unsolicited advice in regards to dress and manners. This unsolicited advice may take the form of general rules of thumb—formulated by time and traditions of Western civilization–, as well as particularities derived from my own prejudices and proclivities.  

My objective here is to inform. Thus, if you (the reader) should learn even one new thing, I have succeeded in my task; however, if at any point someone should let out a little giggle, or a laugh, I will have surpassed by objective, having fulfilled the soul in sharing a morsel of pleasure and enjoyment to another human being.   

This is one author that recognizes a difference between Style and Fashion. Enlightening those differences, Style starts from within one’s self, and involves the process of communicating aspects of one’s identity to the world, through dress. In contrast fashion is imposed from outside of oneself, and is largely concerned with the latest trends. Through cultivating a sense of style based on the relationship between our individual and collective selves and the external world, style is truly about knowing one’s self.

 

History

 

 

 

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Fig. 1 King Charles II and Nell Gwyn. 

The History of the modern suit can be traced back to King Charles II (b. 1630-d. 1685), aka Charles the Bald, aka the “Merrie Monarch.” Charles had many liaisons, and loved prostitutes. In literature, Charles’s appetite for women is preserved in the poetry of Earl of Rochester, who described Charles as rolling, insatiably I imagine, “from whore to whore” and thus the prototypical image of the debonair “playboy”  begins to take form and

 

shape.

Charles II was one of the more interesting monarchs to assume the throne. Charles II was the son of Charles I, and subsequently, was born Prince of Wales in London, on 29 May 1630.

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Fig. 2. King Charles II. 

In 1641 Charles II took his seat in the House of Lords in 1641 and held nominal military positions commanding troops in the civil wars of the English Revolution, before fleeing in exile to The Hague (Netherlands).  In exile, Charles II made at least two attempts to rescue his father who was being held prisoner by political dissidents. Several days late, and many dollars short, however, Charles I was executed in 1649, despite Charles’s efforts. Charles II assumed kingship of Scotland and (some parts of) Ireland and England in 1651. In August (1651), Charles invaded England with 10,000 souls. Long story short, he lost the battle, and lived in poverty and exile for 8 years. Although Charles lost the battle, he did–eventually– win the war. Parliament requested Charles II be restored and proclaimed in him King 8 May 1660.  

These things notwithstanding, Charles’s pertinence to use his he gave us the three-piece suit, by declaration in 1666. Permanent Style “How Charles II Invented the Three-Piece Suit” relays the matter succinctly:  

So on October 7 1666 Charles issued a declaration that his court would no longer wear ‘French fashions’. Instead, it would adopt what was known at the time as the Persian vest. A long waistcoat to be worn with a knee-length coat and similar-length shirt, it was made of English wool, not French silk. The emphasis was on cloth and cut, not ruffles and accessories.

And there, arguably, it all started, not just the forerunners of the modern three-piece, which includes:  Waistcoat (vest), Trousers, and a Jacket, but more significantly, what would come to be the hallmark of British style: an emphasis on cloth (fabric) and cut (or fit), which would be famous by the tailors and clothiers of the famed Savile Row.

Beau Brummell and the Rise of the Dandy

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Fig .3. Beau Brummell. 

There are many ideas about what a Dandy is. There are many characterizations of Dandyism that, in my view, completely misses the mark, such as those who erroneously associate Dandyism with superficial self-indulgence, the “effeminate,” and narcissism. In any case, a Dandy is characterized by a man of places a particular importance on individual presentation—refined, albeit, though sometimes extravagant, in both dress and mannerisms.

 

Brummell was born in 1778 and died in 1840. At 21, Brummell received a modest inheritance, and from there, set out to live the good life—spending most of his money on clothes, gambling, and eating and drinking. In an era where bathing once per week was a seldom occurrence for the general European, Brummel’s morning routine lasted four to five hours. He bathed twice daily: first in milk, then in water. Every day, he shaved and exfoliated, and was a preeminent gentleman, becoming known, near and far for little else than his eccentric dress and habits, and thus enjoyed freedom of movement in the highest strata of the social sphere, where his manner of dress and habits created a cult following.

Brummell died broke and insane, a fate, ironically, that many Dandies would come to share. In 1840 Brummell died in an insane asylum.   Nevertheless, during his life Brummell’s influence was an important development in the rise of Dandyism: having influenced real and imagined Dandies. Oscar Wilde, a Dandy in real life, based many of his heroes on Brummell, and consequently, Dorian, of the Picture of Dorian Grey and Algernon Moncrieff of The Importance of Being Earnest bear striking similarities to Brummell. Traces of Brummell can even be found in Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus—the posthumous semi-autobiographical comedy and part philosophical reflection, that set a standard for the budding genre now known as satire.

More pertinent to our purposes here, Brummell is important to us because it is from him that we arrive at the modern trouser. Today, a statue of Brummell towers in bespoken dignity in Savile Row, London.

Pro Tips: Wearing it well

Needless to say perhaps, I am united, in principle with King Charles II on the tenants of Fit and Fabric as a guideline for a gentleman’s wardrobe.  When comparing European suits to American suits, generally, the European suit fit closer to the body, have higher arm-holes, and are typically slim lined, giving the suit an overall “smart” appearance. In contrast, American suits have lower armholes, larger armholes, and do not fit as close to the body—generally.

All suits are  not created equal. Knowing what to wear, as well as when and how to wear it, can make life a little less hectic. I believe that when most people know better, they do better. Consequently, infractions in etiquette  are usually due to unfamiliarity rather than poor taste.

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Fig.4. Western Suit Fits.
  1. Start with the shoulders. The shoulders pads of the suit should fit your shoulders. Usually, as long as the shoulders fit, everything else can be adjusted by your tailor. Naturally, the closer the suit is, initially, to your ideal fit, the less money you will spend on alterations and tailoring (and likely the more money you will spend on the suit).

 

 

At the shoulder, the fabric should fall naturally, giving a smooth and seamless appearance leading all the the way down to the sleeve.

When smartly fitted, the shoulders will be squared, giving a sharp and formal appearance.

If the shoulders on a jacket are too wide, the head will appear small. When the shoulders are too wide, the head is seemingly inflated.

2. Jacket Length. Ideally, the jacket should stop where the buttock meet the thigh. Slightly longer or shorter is acceptable depending on the tastes and preferences of the gentleman wearing the suit.

*Jackets may be purchased in Short (s), Regular (R), and Long (L) lengths, and may be further customize by a tailor as needed.

**Most jackets have extra fabric as to be lengthened or shortened as needed. However, too much alteration will disturb the proportions of the jacket, eliminating the natural balance of the garment.

3. Jacket Collar. There are many different collars and lapels. The perfect jacket collar gently and comfortably, sits below the shirt collar, which frames the face. Collars are so important, they will get their own section.

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Fig.5. Jacket Collar. 

The Gorge is where the jacket’s collar meets the jacket’s lapel, and should always be about the upper chest. Ideally, the jacket collar will sit 1/2 or more inch below the blouse.

4. Jacket Width. Always, let your body guide you. However, a proper coat fits such that a gentleman should be able to comfortably rest a hand between the fabric and the chest.

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Fig.6. Jacket Sleeves.

5. Sleeve Length. Not too long. Not too short. But just right. The sleeves of the Jacket should let your blouse (shirt) peak from under the jacket. Traditionally, the “proper” exposure is ¼-3/4 of blouse. However, hand-dressing, is highly personal, and these rules may discarded at will. The higher the sleeve, the higher the level of extravagance. In professional settings, however, it is not unwise to be modest, staying within that ¼ – ¾ range. Whistle at play, expose as much sleeve as you desire—without being obnoxious.  Sleeves should never be too long, and thus at least some of your blouse should be seen under the jacket sleeve, tastefully dressing the hand. (See Nat’s expertly dressed sleeves: Fig. 7.).

 

 

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Fig. 7. Nat King Cole. 

 

 

 

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Fig.8. Sammy Davis Jr.                                                          6. Trousers: Trousers are one aspect of a suit, and dress in general, that is very personal. My advice is: as long as your trousers fit at and on the waist, let comfort and function dictate the rest. Additionally, thou shall never, simultaneously, wear a belt and braces. Other than that: rock out, let loose, follow your heart.

 

* Here I will take note to insert my unsolicited opinion and advice: if your trousers fit, you will require neither a belt nor braces (suspenders). Given that the purpose of a belt is to hold trousers in place, it stands to reason that trouser that actually fit will require no belt at all. Furthermore, wearing a belt  breaks up the seamless silhouette that a suit is designed to emphasize. On a smart-fitting suit, the eye is naturally drawn to the main focal point of a suit, the waist-button, which is a about the navel. Wearing a belt effectively divides the top and lower halves of the body, instead of allowing for an elegant, seamless, and uniformed appearance. Additionally, getting your trousers fitted to your waist is often inexpensive, and can be done by all tailors and even most dry cleaners that offer alterations for a nominal fee.

**There are many options when it comes to trousers. But our main focus is  trouser fit at the waist. There are slightly more involved aspects of trousers like pleats—which are little folds, and breaks, and breaks—the point where the trouser meets the shoe. You can read more about trousers here: (https://www.gentlemansgazette.com/how-pants-should-fit/).

 

I have put together a modest gallery for your browsing pleasure. Do note that none of these photos are my own, nor do I have any rights pertaining thereto.

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Works Cited:

Brummell, Beau.” Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, 2017, p. 1p. 1. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.umuc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=funk&AN=BR189600&site=eds-live&scope=site

Figure. 1: https://www.google.com/search?q=charles+ii+and+nell+gwyn&tbm=isch&tbs=simg:CAQSlwEJwA458BvVCuUaiwELEKjU2AQaBAgVCAIMCxCwjKcIGmIKYAgDEiiDBIIEvxf0GNEKpxXcCvULlhmSDokuuDq5OooujC61Otg-iy7TIrQ6GjAJb8U-AaCqchtzSx8bxgKDwkxrFwyP5WhtVwuOVaIk5bwSTfzB-C3zPHIwKSo1U0AgBAwLEI6u_1ggaCgoICAESBOMyousM&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjbnr_c5uzbAhXQjVkKHRAoCRQQwg4IJigA

Figure 2: https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiErM7x5ezbAhUNrVkKHQQwBToQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fin.pinterest.com%2Fpin%2F136445063688672202%2F&psig=AOvVaw1eZ2Mny2OequeAA6adGHAq&ust=1529946737189854

Figure 3: https://www.google.com/search?q=beau+brummell+portrait&tbm=isch&tbs=simg:CAQSlQEJsrSDqL2VYOkaiQELEKjU2AQaAggVDAsQsIynCBpiCmAIAxIo9BiWGYEP8xiOD5IOqxGRDqoRvRuMLrU6gC6_1Ot8vvjq9OuEviy6VLhowe48h4aZWZWz6kDwgaZu5kkNgifr_1JpFqSVQCNAo-XZMUo6a2h5lwYg22fDcCLb4QIAQMCxCOrv4IGgoKCAgBEgQJlVuFDA&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiJ1vy95-zbAhXhzVkKHTtuDXcQwg4IJigA

Figure 4: https://keep.google.com/u/0/media/v2/1VbjefZxNudksLWqETyq5zZkxNelJljM_xAuf0Vao0dcxhimn1BxbX7YrOWVUtg/1jQfh5FAny7zoMRjIg8unsbmLPY_WI2TKNSnq_sajj3yE-zGdhWnMD2LPCNLsOgg?accept=image/gif,image/jpeg,image/jpg,image/png,image/webp,audio/aac&sz=750

Figure  5:  https://keep.google.com/u/0/media/v2/1yJZqp5q1OjX72IWNTK6CRWSnSJ1VaiKVkPc8CE2Cu-DTn7CUcH9ZEXzRdHu2jVg/1_NI8eXQTAry1SaVCp-1X44tbCX2UzbBXStxXopNVLpLiXh0apLiV8aR5RM2nVw?accept=image/gif,image/jpeg,image/jpg,image/png,image/webp,audio/aac&sz=419

Figure 6: https://keep.google.com/u/0/media/v2/1jjSwpsOUC6gthZ-iPIWNf5mK-JkWtWdrXnXVkqsBSKiQCF1hCYrvC_DZ7Kt9cNM/13dRDJRMi3X3RhQJnKbZBDVuEg-YN7OEuJZByIABbUdGYmR3AwuATvZ2z_qXY3Uk?accept=image/gif,image/jpeg,image/jpg,image/png,image/webp,audio/aac&sz=419

Figure 7:  https://keep.google.com/u/0/media/v2/1aMmYFcOce77voLYRmWvmDd39y2qTn99BCqg3Uy9nkRZ0uphznbcKru3uKkZ4Dsc/1-Aa8RmE1EAHUNHoNQHxyWhGZqy-YqRQgbJgVcXV8z-cLtQqG6CDqcGpEEYjQL8M?accept=image/gif,image/jpeg,image/jpg,image/png,image/webp,audio/aac&sz=254

Figure 8:  https://keep.google.com/u/0/media/v2/1NghEth0BUUaD2Nru_QQox8MGpT1LZERIGRcPxcUfc2xkSyfuyf5UsN5t0E3kVA/1XiW599lm71Dz0VeaEZ5B_Z2FKT21sdkQ5HCh7PfR2t-gJzNWou6FV6VnvcvVoFQ?accept=image/gif,image/jpeg,image/jpg,image/png,image/webp,audio/aac&sz=225

 

 

American Civil Rights: Methods of Freedom Informed by Eastern Philosophy

American Civil Rights: Methods of Freedom Informed by Eastern Philosophy
Introduction

The Sikh concept of Dharam Yudh and the Hindu concept of Ahimsa are two contrasting methodologies. One the one hand, the Sikh prescribes a method for a just war, in the defense of righteousness; whereby those committed to righteousness are obligated to its furthering as well as its defense through violence (war). On the other hand, The Hindu concept of Ahimsa is manifested trough a commitment to non-violence. While Sikh notions of war and Hindu notions of non-violence are seemingly antithetical, the influence of Eastern Philosophy—through the Hindu and Sikh ethical schisms—can be analyzed in terms of the mid-20th century struggle for Human and Civil Rights in America. The sentiments and implications of ahimsa and Dharam Yudh are reflected in the polemical modi operandi of two American philosophers, Martin Luther King Jr., and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Martin Luther King Jr, was an American Civil Rights leader, who sought to affect social change through non-violence. King was associated with such organizations as SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) and the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), which were integral in staging protests such as 1963 March on Washington. Shabazz (also known as Malcom X), on the other hand, was the spokesman for the Nation of Islam which advocated for Black self-sufficiency and autonomy. However, Shabazz, upon his return from Mecca in 1964 separated from the Nation, and started his own organization, The Organization of Afro-American Unity.

 A key difference in philosophies between the Sikh and Hindu religions is their view toward war and violence which can be illustrated by comparing speeches of two influential Americans, Martin Luther King Jr. and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, during a time of great civil unrest and inequality.  

Historical Context 

The mid-20th Century period in America was a turbulent time of change and uncertainty. At both home and abroad, the United States was engaged in a violent clash of conflicting interests. During this time, the centuries-old struggle for Negro freedom had reached a new precipice in the form of a Black struggle for civil and human rights. The goal of the movement was citizenship for the Negro in America, a citizenship which, hitherto, had been denied in spirit and in letter in the practice of American Democracy—save during a brief reprieve during the Reconstruction Period, which saw an aggressive state-sanctioned attack and dismantling of institutional racism. Nevertheless, all Blacks agreed that the goal was liberation. What Blacks disagreed on, however, was the method attainment. 

The question of freedom—the manner and the means of attaining it—saw sharp divisions among Negros as it concerned Non-violence verses violence. The former, epitomized by King is consistent with the Hindu concept of ahimsa. The latter, represented by Shabazz, is felicitous with the Sikh concept of Dharam Yudh. The Sikh and Hindu religions have seemingly contrasting strategies to for conflict resolution. One difference can be seen in the way that conflict, or war, is approached. The approach to war, or violence, for the Sikh can be seen in the Dharam Yudh which prescribe that war is applicable in defense of the innocent, for the furthering of justice, and all other options for resolving conflicts between interests and will have been exhausted. Whereas ahimsa captures the Hindu approach of non-violence to a commitment for the sanctity of life. Although, it is important to note: neither the Sikh nor the Hindu, should be regarded as a monolith. Consequently, there are varying interpretations regarding the use of violence in both religious communities.   

El-Shabazz and Just War

The Sikh concept of just war, Dharam Yudh was developed as a means to effect war in defense of righteousness. Dharam Yudh, prescribes several prerequisites that must be satisfied for war to qualify as Dharam Yudh. The Sikh prescriptions assert first and foremost that war must be a last resort, used only after “…all other ways if resolving the conflict…” have been exhausted (BBC). Furthermore, the BBC relates:

The crucial difference from Just War theory is that Sikhs believe that, if a war is just, it should be undertaken even if it cannot be won.

Sikhs are expected to take military action against oppression, and there is no modern tradition of absolute pacifism amongst Sikhs, although Sikhs are strongly in favour [sic] of action to promote human rights and harmony between religions and states. (BBC. War. 2009). 

In 1604, the Fifth Guru (religious leader), Guru Arjun complied the Adi Granth. A.W. Dorn and S. Gucciardi in “The Sword and the Turban: Armed Force in Sikh Thought” assert “The Adi Granth is focused around God and Salvation” (Dorn and Gucciardi 54). Dorn and Gucciardi proceed to analyze the Sikh biases for armed resistance through a close reading for Sikh religious text. One verse in particular captures the essence of Dharam Yudh. Verse 146 of The Adi Granth asserts:

 When it pleases You [God], we wield the sword, and cut off the heads of our

enemies. When it pleases You, we go out to foreign lands; hearing news of home, we

come back again. When it pleases You, we are attuned to the Name . . . (Dorn and Gucciardi 55)

The scriptures further explicate:

The battle-drum beats in the sky of the mind; aim is taken, and the wound is inflicted. The spiritual warriors enter the field of battle; now is the time to fight! He alone is known as a spiritual hero, who fights in defense of religion. He may be cut apart, piece by piece, but he never leaves the field of battle. (1364) Kabeer, kill only that, which, when killed, shall bring peace. Everyone shall call you good, very good, and no one shall think you are bad. (Dorn and Gucciardi 55)
While these verse are open to interpretation, they are generally accepted as an endorsement of just war or Dharam Yudh. The above quotations, within the context of Sikhism, “…demonstrate the perception that at least some military action has divine sanction (Dorn and Gucciardi 59). 

This Sikh sentiment is recapitulated in the political philosophy of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. Consider his landmark speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet”, delivered in Cleveland, Ohio 1964, where Shabazz espouses a confluent view: 

All of us have suffered here, in this country, political oppression at the hands of the white man, economic exploitation at the hands of the white man, and social degradation at the hands of the white man.

Now in speaking like this, it doesn’t mean that we’re anti-white, but it does mean we’re anti-exploitation, we’re anti-degradation, we’re anti-oppression. And if the white man doesn’t want us to be anti-him, let him stop oppressing and exploiting and degrading us. Whether we are Christians or Muslims or nationalists or agnostics or atheists, we must first learn to forget our differences. If we have differences, let us differ in the closet; when we come out in front, let us not have anything to argue about until we get finished arguing with the man. (Shabazz. The Ballot or the Bullet. 1964).

Noteworthy here is the similitude of Shabazz’s words when considered in light of Dharam Yudh. Shabazz’ words are congruent with Dharam Yudh insofar as the function of Shabazz’ philosophy adheres to the prescriptions of the Sikh theory of Just War. At no point in his speech does Shabazz advocate for violence as a means for: revenge, conquest, or preemptive justice. On the contrary, Shabazz takes great pains to inform his audience that his position is not anti-white, but rather, is a position that is informed by a stanch opposition to oppression and exploitation (or righteousness).

Shabazz echoes the ecumenical tenants of Sikh philosophy, viz-a-viz Guru Nanak, when Shabazz writes in his 1965 The Autobiography of Malcolm X, “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole” (Shabazz 1965). The striking similarities between Shabazz willingness to use violence to advance justice and Sikh Dharam Yudh, could be attributed to cultural exchanges between Islam and Sikhism. The Islamic notion of Jihad (Holy War) is similar to that of Dharam Yudh (Righteous War), in that both have been used by respective believers to justify war as a means to the advancement of justice and the protection of the innocent. Indeed, Simeon Ilesanmi examines “Sharia reasoning about political jihad and the Islamic analogues to Western” just war theory, beginning with classical Islamic sources (e.g., Quran, hadith, legal rulings) and continuing into the contemporary period” (Ilesanmi 2). And thus, the words of the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh “When all efforts to restore peace prove useless and no words avail, Lawful is the flash of steel. It is right to draw the sword” (BBC) are cogent with Shabazz words in his famous speech given at the Organization of Afro-American Unity founding rally in 1964 when he says: “We declare our right on this earth…to be human being[s], to be respected as human being[s], to be given the rights of a human beings in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary (Shabazz. By Any Means Necessary 1964). 

  

 Shabazz opposes the actions of whites, rather than whites themselves. Subsequently, Shabazz’ words implicitly appeal to the ethical and moral proclivities of his enemy. In other words, Shabazz informs that violent conflict, as signified by the bullet, can be avoided if “white-men” ceased to violently oppress and exploit. In this utterance Shabazz honors the Sikh assertion that “…war must be the last resort-all other ways of resolving the conflict must be tried first” (BBC). 

The Confluence of King and Ahimsa 

Martin Luther King Jr. was a sincere student of Eastern Philosophy—Gandhi in particular. As such, King utilized Gandhi’s thoughts on the concept of ahimsa (non-violence) to fine-tune his efforts to affect social change in mid-20th century America. As a concept, ahimsa is not exclusive to one religious tradition. Subsequently, the ethical principle of ahimsa is seen in the religions of the Jain, the Buddhist, and the Hindu. 

Notwithstanding, Eastern Philosophical ideas, such as relayed by Gandhi, were integral in the development of King’s non-violent strategy. Eboo Patel, in his lecture “Martin Luther King Jr. And the Light of Other Faiths,” delivered 10 September 2012 at the Union Theological Seminary Interfaith Cycle examines in detail the unique role of Eastern Philosophy in the development of King’s non-violent movement. Patel writes:   

In 1959, King goes to India to see Gandhi’s legacy up close, and the first sermon that King preached when he returned to Montgomery was on the 22nd of March 1959, Palm Sunday. The subject was Gandhi. The lines in there would be challenging to any Christian audience at any time, in any place—I can only imagine how it was received in mid-century Montgomery, Alabama. (Patel 272)

Here Patel captures a modicum of the impact that Gandhi had on King. Patel’s analysis suggests King saw in Gandhi the fulfilment of Christian love and compassion, thus King regarded Gandhi as the greatest Christian (despite Gandhi’s contradictory racist attitudes toward Africans at large). 

Furthermore, Patel asserts “it impossible to understand King’s faith story without recognizing the interplay between his Christian faith and what he learned from traditions outside of Christianity [Eastern Philosophy] (Patel 272). While I do not accept Patel’s assertion as literally true—as it is possible to understand King without an apprehension of Eastern Philosophical influences—Patel, nonetheless instantiates the interplay of Eastern Philosophical thought and King’s own Christian. 

King’s own words reflect the essence of ahimsa when he says: 

 Nonviolence has also meant that my people in the agonizing struggles of recent years have taken suffering upon themselves instead of inflicting it on others. It has meant, as I said, that we are no longer afraid and cowed. But in some substantial degree it has meant that we do not want to instill fear in others or into the society of which we are a part. The movement does not seek to liberate Negroes at the expense of the humiliation and enslavement of whites. It seeks no victory over anyone. It seeks to liberate American society and to share in the self-liberation of all the people. (King. “Quest for Peace and Justice.”)

Interestingly, King’s words reflect a nuance that recognizes various types of harm. Thus, fear emerges as distinct from violence. Yet, both fear and violence, according to ahimsa, are types of harm to be avoided. In this regard, King is consistent with Eastern philosophical conceptions of harm. For example, the Jain, as it regards ahimsa, maintain that there are three types of harm: thoughts, words, and deeds. King developed his strategy of non-violence in order to affect lasting and substantial peace and freedom for American Negroes. King believed that violence would beget more violence. With Blacks militaristically and economically out-gunned by the status quo, violent confrontation, taken to its logical extreme, would likely end unfavorably for Negroes. King provides his rationale on the political expediency of non-violence in “Nonviolence: The Only Road to Freedom”: 

There is no colored nation, including China, which now shows even the potential of leading a revolution of color in any international proportion. Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania and Nigeria are fighting their own battles for survival against poverty, illiteracy and the subversive influence of neocolonialism, so that they offer no hope to Angola, Southern Rhodesia and South Africa, and much less to the American Negro.

The hard cold facts of racial life in the world today indicate that the hope of the people of color in the world may well rest on the American Negro and his ability to reform the structures of racist imperialism from within and thereby turn the technology and wealth of the West to the task of liberating the world from want. (King 28)
 Ever a pragmatist, King decided to confront and resist oppression through a moral appeal to the world’s conscience. This notion was manifested in non-violent direct action—which undermined American credibility by illustrating to the world the seething hypocrisy of American democracy. A hypocrisy that erected a democratic republic unto the world that professed to believe “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” (U.S. Declaration of Independence 1776); yet recognized no contradiction in the presence of enslaved Africans—who were not considered citizens or human beings, but chattel—whom in the eyes of the state, amounted only to “three fifths of all other Persons” (U.S. Constitution. Art. 1, Sec. 2, Clause 3). This American Paradox is manifest in the legacy of American jurisprudence as seen withal: Anti Fugitive Slave Act(s) of 1793 and 1850; The Dread Scott Decision of 1857; Plessey V. Ferguson (1896); Anti-miscegenation laws, et al., state sanctioned practices that were inherently and deliberately antagonistic to Black life. King brought these contractions to the fore. The world was now forced to reconcile the American claim of a free society with the brutal actions of individual racists, and a racist state apparatus. Thus King, in “Facing the Challenge of a New Age” poignantly reflects on the American penchant for Black exploitation when he writes:

   [Systemic racism] had its beginning in the year 1619 when the first Negro slaves landed on the shores of this nation. They were brought here from the soils of Africa. And unlike the Pilgrim Fathers who landed at Plymouth a year later, they were brought here against their wills. Throughout slavery the Negro was treated in a very inhuman fashion. He was a thing to be used, not a person to be respected (King 284)

 In his own words, King illustrates the paramountcy Hindu philosophy (ahimsa) to the development and implementation of an American campaign for an equitable society:   

Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. (King. “Facing the Challenge of a New Age.” 1960)

Conclusion

Many would agree that the relationship between violence and non-violence are oppositional. Similarly: King and Shabazz, ahimsa and Dharam Yudh, are all commonly conceptualized in terms of binary opposites. However, these concepts are complementary rather than adversarial or oppositional. Ahimsa and Dharam Yudh are extremes of a concentric desire for the betterment of humankind. In the same vein, Shabazz and King, shared one goal—the liberation of American Negroes from the forces of oppression—took seemingly different approaches to affect a shared goal. Ebony, in a 1965 editorial accurately identifies the confluence of the seemingly antithetical: “While most people think of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King as being as far apart as the North and South Poles, there were many similarities between the two”… it continues, “Strangely, both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X turned to the East for their philosophies” (Ebony 1965). 

Works Cited

 BBC. Religions-Sikhism: War. Accessed 11 Nov. 2017. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/sikhism/sikhethics/war.shtml

           Dorn, A. Walter and Stephen Gucciardi. “The Sword and the Turban: Armed Force in Sikh Thought.” Journal of Military Ethics, vol. 10, no. 1, Mar. 2011, pp. 52-70. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15027570.2011.562026.

Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary: Speeches, Interviews, and a Letter by Malcolm X (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1970), pp. 35-67.

          Malcolm, X. “I’m Talking to You, White Man.” Saturday Evening Post, vol. 237, no. 31, 12 Sept. 1964, p. 30. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.umuc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=18022015&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Martin Luther King Jr. – Acceptance Speech”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 14 Nov 2017. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-acceptance_en.html

King, Martin Luther. “Facing the Challenge of a New Age.” Phylon (1960-), vol. 49, no. 3/4, 2001, pp. 283–292. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3132634.

King Jr., Martin Luther. “The People Are Important.” New Crisis (15591603), vol. 106, no. 1, Jan/Feb99, p. 46. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.umuc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=3726943&site=eds-live&scope=site.

KING, JR., MARTIN LUTHER. “Nonviolence: The Only Road to Freedom.” Ebony, vol. 21, no. 12, Oct. 1966, p. 27. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.umuc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=48995493&site=eds-live&scope=site.

King Jr.’s, Martin Luther. “The Quest for Peace & Justice.” Literary Cavalcade, vol. 54, no. 5, Feb. 2002, p. 8. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.umuc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=6060187&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Patel, Eboo. “Martin Luther King Jr. and The Light of Other Faiths.” First Speech in the Union Theological Seminary Interfaith Cycle, 10 Sept. 2012, Lecture.

Roy, Kaushik. “Just and Unjust War in Hindu Philosophy.” Journal of Military Ethics, vol. 6, no. 3, Sept. 2007, pp. 232-245. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15027570701539636.

Simeon O., Ilesanmi. “Editorial: Introduction: Islam and Just War Tradition.” Journal of Church and State, no. 1, 2011, p. 1. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1093/jcs/csq139.

U.S. Constitution. Article 1. Section 2. Clause 3. 

“Violence Versus Non-Violence.” Ebony, vol. 20, no. 6, Apr. 1965, p. 168. EBSCOhost, ezproxy.umuc.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=49006434&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Talkers and Walkers

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Our Churches have a responsibility to their congregations. A responsibility to feed and to sustain minds and hearts. To arm partitioners with a pointed theology that will enhance their experiences and overall day to day lives. 

While I must be clear, I am an Atheist. And while we disagree on matters of theological principal, our interests coalesce as it concerns the physical and philosophical wellbeing of those gathered in the Pews. 

These people are fearful. They are writ with fear: afraid to leave their homes, afraid to walk the streets; afraid when loved ones, young and old, near and far, are away from their watchful gaze. 

Lest we forget: perfect love casts out all fear. Perfect love does not just eliminate fear of spiders, or heights, or a fear of rats, or pigs; but rather, Perfect love casteth out all fear. We are not to be fearful. The distinguishing line between recognizing danger and being beset with fear has been blurred, and at times, altogether lost. We are not called to fear. Fear is a weapon used to control, dominate, or debilitate. And by definition, Terrorism is the systemic use of fear in order to bring about specific social, political, or religious results. In other words, terrorism is weaponized, deliberate use of fear.  The pointed theology for which I call for is liberating and life-giving; and subsequently, theologies and houses of worship that nurture an atmosphere of fear are unacceptable. Fear is a conditioned response to recognizing danger. It is a construct. Fear can be enhanced or diminished by knowledge and love. Our Churches that nourished the resolve and spirit of the Civil Rights Movement knew this. The Churches of Old recognized danger and organized a plan to effectively dismantle that which posed a threat to their wellbeing and their very existence. We must do the same. 

A theology that is useful is one that identifies the danger that is ubiquitously linked to Blackness and engenders the tools–material and immaterial to eliminate that danger. The danger that affects our communities is ideological. When the seeds of hatred and ignorance sprout in the hearts of man, trees blossom with strange fruit. To face this danger we must act collectively–tall, short, gay, straight, Jew and Gentile, Christian and Muslim, the literate and illiterate alike, and we must do so and fearlessly. 

L.M. Norton
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.

The Challenge of Imagination

Dreams are some of the most interesting and enjoyable stories I have [written and heard]. And my thoughts about dreams, in varying degrees, are just as interesting. But I find writing about something that is so intimately rooted in subjective experience to be extremely vexing and exciting. I don’t have a rational basis to express these non-rational stories, as great as they are. Typically, my dreams are non-rational. Any semblance of linear time or logical progression melts away. The plot unfolds in such a way that is only knowable to me; expressed in a latent symbology made for me, by me, and essentially, of me–the deepest parts of myself. It is a strange thing when the conscious self and the unconscious self happen in a cafe and decide to have a chat. It is as if someone is speaking to me in a language I have never heard; a language that cannot be said to exist, but, a language that I am, nonetheless, speaking. The words are foreign and strange, out of my mouth. My tongue and lips move in ways I’ve never felt. My ears stretch in ways I am inept to describe. Yet despite the strangeness and perplexity of it all, the familiar sensation of understanding, of knowing, pervades. I do not know how I know, but I know I know. I do not even know how it can be said I know, other than saying: I know. Listening to your mind speak to itself is a fascinating thing. I have few rational dreams, and writing is an inherently rational act. It confounds me as a writer how to bridge that gap. It is truly exciting to attempt to contrive a mechanism of accurately representing a dream. It forces me to call into question the whole system of western thought, in which I have been schooled, into question, and renders it suspect. To bring the dream down to the writing is easy. But the relishing challenge is to bring the writing up to the dream without diminishing the intelligibility of language.IMG_1191.JPG