This morning I heard from an old friend, a white southerner who goes to an African-American church. He referred me to a Dr. Howard Thurman, who preceded King, who met Gandhi and advised many people in the Civil Rights movement. Here is a bit from the Wikipedia summary on Dr. Thurman -
For some unexplained reason, the following quote by Dr. Howard Thurman is widely and incorrectly attributed on the Internet to one "Harold Thurman Whitman" (which is, in fact, a fictional name):Thurman was a Christian minister, but it sounds Buddhist to me. (Also sounds like John F. Kennedy read it, doesn't it?)
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
So does Billy Joel in the above song, which gave me a group spiritual experience in around 1975, sitting around a table in a bar with other crazy people when it came on the radio. We all burst into song on the chorus. We were all people struggling by now against the culture - one friend was gay. It was 1975.
"Crazy" - coming alive to the truth that persists beneath the culture. Sometimes it looks like delayed adolescence. The people around you aren't going to like it, the way people didn't like King's call for change. A person who is alive ripples through the entire culture, the world. I think of Shunryu Suzuki, the small, humble Zen teacher who seeded America with teachers. Or think of King, whom I knew only on a television screen, whose marches I was too confined psychologically to think of joining. But you do join the march of culture, you are changed by the songs you hear, really hear.