I am, by most regards, a large man in stature. Not a huge man, but sizable nonetheless. This is simply the capsule in which fate decided to place me. Nothing more. Nothing less. But within the stubborn confines of my fleshy limitations dwells the soul of a massive giant. A passion unrestrained by physical measure, undelineable by mass or mile, and—if cultured and developed and loved above all falsity with patience, sacrifice, intelligence, and fairness, until it matures into the echoing force that can and will drive change—this passion will transcend mortality, leaving behind a referable legacy for anyone seeking to further this revolution of peace.
Before I continue, I’d like to directly address one criticism I have faced recently, for it is best to attempt to deflate anticipated obstacles before they aggregate into monsters, and, because the general public tends to judge character both by the criticism one receives and the defense one presents. I realize a good many of you hear my words and think me arrogant, and within that arrogance: obstinate … ignorant. I realize that in time we have all been taught that those who speak plainly, confidently, assuredly, openly—especially when addressing themselves or their beliefs—especially those regarding politics, religion, or massive social change—are somehow anti-intellectual. Anti-academic. Loud-mouthed fools forged in bombast who crumble at the slightest calculated objection or hide forever after suffering the smallest misstep—ultimately imploding into a shameful example of why one should never speak in such a perceivably-proud manner.
My friends and critics, I know it is customary and wise to be hesitant at times. To be overly polite with opinion. Bashful even. I know this and I assure you I have been there. I have listened. I have spent my whole life listening. Reflecting. Discovering. And after listening to years of virulent hate and psychotic lies, and observing that these tragedies are not resolving—merely distorting, transmuting, or, worse, rotting into dangerous social and intellectual infections—I have realized that I am no longer following what’s morally right by restraining my voice. In this modern world, it is neither kind nor courteous to hold to your tongue when your message is infused with truth and presented for the selfless benefit of all people. I am not doing my duty as a citizen of the world, with able body and mind, if I do not uphold those beliefs I know in my heart to possess permanence. Ideals they may be, but by definition, the ideal—the abstraction—is able to achieve permanence by adapting and growing as life itself evolves towards an end. I saw this throughout my life and I was forced into action. Forced to speak. Forced to communicate—to make words succeed where they have failed for so long. To let an unfiltered passion once again take possession of our hearts. To restore dreams to the heralded position they once enjoyed. To set ideas and discovery on par with gasoline or money in terms of global concern. To help and hold humanity as it struggles back to its feet, so that it may return to the race, and win. Win, my friends. Win.
So, as I speak, expect me to err. Expect me to fumble a sentence. Or leave a point open ended. Do not expect my words to infiltrate a crack in the old image, subvert its decaying core, shatter it entirely, repaint a complete picture that is impervious to any doubt, and, finally, carefully dispose of the remnants from the original picture. That is asking too much of just one man.
However, if I can achieve even the first step of this process—the infiltration of the crack—and if you allow yourself to consider my statements and intentions with an open mind, then perhaps together we can complete the remaining steps. If you must dissect me, realize that what you are cutting apart and categorizing is a living creature. If you break me apart, realize that you can never again reassemble me into what I was before. Realize that the sum of my parts does not and will never equate what I am at this very moment: a man relating to you a message of peace from the heart, delivered through the mind, and shaped with a loud voice blessed upon him to use for good. Know that this and only this is my intention. Therefore, I ask you to be patient. Allow yourself to give me the benefit of the doubt. Hold back your criticism for a day until you’ve considered what I’ve said. Please do not add to the immense difficulty of this endeavor with unnecessary anger. Be patient and understanding with me as I have been throughout this journey, waiting for my chance—and the ability—to speak. If I am a fool, then you need not waste effort trying to expose me as such. I will do so myself.
Now is not a time for humility. Now is not a time for modesty. Now is not a time to sit and debate. We have spent fifty years debating and creating newer and newer little problems without addressing the overriding cause. We have spent fifty years observing the decline. We have spent fifty years being humble. Now is a time to speak with confidence. To speak with the intention to spread knowledge that is so obvious to some and so alien to others. And as that knowledge infects another fertile mind, it will ignite that person’s past convictions, and from the ashes, a passionate Phoenix will rise and force its host to act. And action, my friends—action—will set us free.
So, forgive my ignorance. I know I have much to learn. Forgive my delivery: I mean you no harm or personal attack. Forgive me as I forgive you. Love me as I love you—enough to risk condemnation on the deepest of my beliefs—being dismantled by a million people waiting with wrenches. Worst of all, I risk facing my own ignorance. My own limitations. I risk failure. But, my friends, failure is the best part of life. It is only through failure that we learn. Only through trial that we gain strength. Only through repetition that we become masters. I will never label myself a master, or a smart man, or even one who is inarguably right. Just listen to my words and feel my spirit as I speak to you now and judge for yourself if I have worth. Judge for yourselves if I have made a difference in you tonight. For better, or for worse.
I have looked into the eyes of a jealous fool. A frightened child trapped inside an adult capsule, furiously thinking of ways to hurt me. And why? If you ask her, as I did, you will only get a lie—if you even get a response at all. This is her way, as it is the way of so many others. Individuals who have allowed the darkness in life to mix with their essence and have built houses or even castles on top of meandering sand. Although many will argue there is no universal truth—but anyone, anyone who has loved, loved without restraint, loved in the face of pain and abuse, loved in the face of death will tell you there is an innate truth and it is stronger than any lie, bullet, or atomic bomb. It is the beacon. It is the key. Love is truth; and truth is beauty. And the truth in my situation, with the jealous fool, was that she could not handle the revealing nature cast upon her by my convictions to ethics and dedication to the truth. Truth can be blinding, my friends. But do not fear the light any more than the darkness. Move everywhere with caution. But, as is so common, this fool had not made these advancements in thought and action. She had not sacrificed for the answers. She could not handle failure because she could not handle herself, and chose to live wrapped in a lie of defeat. And, I repeat, she is not alone. She is the norm. That is the most disturbing fact of all.
You cannot break the truth. No matter how hard you twist or hit or bite. No matter how deeply you lie, the truth rises to the surface eventually. Perhaps you will face it only on your death bed. Perhaps you face it now in your dreams. Regardless of what you do, the truth will find a way to present itself to you. Work with it, and struggle, and you will ultimately succeed. Flee, and artfully dodge until you miss a step, and you will find yourself perpetually unhappy. It is your choice.
Freedom is not an illusion. Freedom is a concept with varying levels and applications. Freedom is an ordered, predictable philosophy. Freedom is also a word that has been abused. Freedom is not a tagline, catch-phrase, motto, slogan, or tool for propaganda. People who dwell in an illusionary world, where they have been brainwashed to want and desire only those things falling within the boundaries of that fabricated system might think themselves both happy and in possession of volition. That is tragic; but that has nothing to do with freedom as a universal. The freedom of which I speak, the grandest freedom, must be achieved through effort. Through suffering—it is equally as feasible to say that freedom must be achieved through war. A war against lies. A war against ignorance. A war against prevarication. Every man must earn his freedom. And, united as a people, we must fight to earn freedom from hate. Freedom from greed. Freedom from repression. Freedom from bigotry. Freedom to be and act and think and learn. And, as we elevate ourselves to the next level, we must support our freedom with a comprehensive system of responsibility. An evolving skeleton that will adapt as our freedom continues.
I look out upon you who are angered by my words—all of you whose sandy castles have shook under the footsteps of a mighty idea—I look out at you all and plead: do not hate me because I am freer than you. Do not hate me because I speak without hesitation. Do not hate me because I have dug up my roots and carry them in bunches, exposed, dirty; displaying to everyone not only my present, but the entirety of my past, the entirety of my ancestry, and a detailed map of my future steps. Question me as you should, harass me if you choose, kill me if you must—but maybe best of all: give my words a chance. Follow me for a bit. Follow me and help me and we will learn together. Together, we will walk from the wretched stink of stagnation, into a bright new day. Together, we will iron out a new life: a better freedom, an egalitarian system of responsibility. Together we will breathe again. Fresh and free from the smog of greed and the stubborn refusal to evolve. We will culture life as it has cultured us. Walk with me and we will overcome this weight that sits on our shoulders, hearts, and even our minds. A weight of fear, hate, and ignorance that pushes down so hard … and clouds our vision. But you must keep looking. You must keep thinking. Always thinking. You can push through. You can transcend. Try. Try until fall to your knees with exhaustion. Try until the tears come in streams. At that point, sleep. Then, try again. Every day.
We need to wake up. The nightmare has gotten too stormy. Wake up, I shout to you. Wake up, you must shout to yourself. Wake up. Please wake up. Do it. Now. Wake. Wake. Wake… .
Freedom is within our grasp. It is not so far away as Mars. It lies within our hearts—but only our minds can find it; only our will can give it life; and only our voices can give it form and sing it fearlessly. Sing the song of freedom. This is your job, my friends. On top of any other job, you must sing. Never stop, until the chorus pushes us back to reality. And that sacred day, we will huddle together and cry. Cry as one for the pain we’ve caused. Cry as one for the foolishness by which we lived for so long. Cry as one for each and every human who suffers. Cry because it was that simple all along. Give with two hands, take with one. Give with two hands … but only take with one. That is how it will work. That is the foundation. The details will fall into place. Don’t worry. Stop looking for a complete replacement. Stop thinking yourself away from what feels right. Let equanimity and endless possibility possess your heart. Let the good wash through you like a perpetual embrace from the most beautiful love you’ve ever felt. Sing, my friends. Sing with me for freedom. Sing with me through the assault. Sing with me through hate and jealousy. Finally, sing with me out of joy at the birth of a better world.
Every day, I sing the song of freedom until my voice runs dry. Then, I dance all night.
This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity to speak briefly to you about this mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.
It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.
Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by his assassin’s bullet.
No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.
Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.
"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, “there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."
Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire.
Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach nonviolence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.
Some looks for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.
For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.
This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.
We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear - only a common desire to retreat from each other - only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers.
Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is now what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.
We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.
Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.
But we can perhaps remember - even if only for a time - that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek - as we do - nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.
The turbulent decadence of my current lifestyle has taken an extreme toll on my physical and mental health. From now on, I’m a “red wine and cocaine only” type of guy.
Do you think he’s gay?
I don’t know. Maybe.
Maybe he just repressed it, you know? He’s spent his whole life with his ass clenched and now he can’t possibly relax.
I’ve never fought harder to be wrong about something in my entire life…