I strongly recommend reading anything by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. PhD. In his book, Why We Can’t Wait, King offers cold, unflorished facts paired with first hand accounts of the plight of the American Negro. This account of the situation is presented along with shrewd socio-economic analysis and high praise for the strategy of nonviolent resistance, introduced to King by Bayard Rustin. King, as some of you may know, was a well-armed advocate of violent community defense before that communist weirdo, Rustin, came into his life. I digress.
Here’s something that I wrestle with: I do a lot of different things. All of them are related, and I see them all as necessary to each other. Sometimes, I get frustrated with how long something is taking — or how long everything is taking. I want to be further along in the process. On good days, I want to do the reading. When I’m at my worst I just want to have done the reading already. Substitute ‘doing the reading’ for whatever you want. When I want to have done the thing instead of wanting to do the thing, I find myself suffering.
Here’s the weird part. The suffering, for me, mostly persists when I’m not procrastinating. When I am working full tilt on a client project and I just want it to be finished, I suffer more than when I take a break and walk away from it. When I am annotating Adam Smith, thinking about what I can expound on and what I can pick apart, I am more anxious than when I am just reading and trying to really understand.
I also recommend listening to at least one of Gary Vaynerchuck’s lectures and Q&A sessions.
“Whoa, Deacon. Too far. Where’s this going?”
It might be bonkers to juxtapose MLK and Gary Vee but bear with me here. Vaynerchuck has this saying, “Marco patience; micro speed.” What’s that mean? Well, the way my buddy Matt explains it, “Do what you know you ought to do today and tomorrow will worry about itself.”
In describing the frenetic wind of the uprisings in Birmingham and throughout the U.S. in 1963, King notes that many Black folk became joyful in offering themselves up for arrest, packing the jails, and enduring pain at the hands of the state.
Why? Why would Black folk experience liberation in the very act of being put into very real bondage and injury by folks who actively despised them, whose acts of hatred were mediated by very little oversight or consequence?
And, if Black folk can find joy in suffering, then is there any real necessity to stop waiting? If the end of suffering comes from mere acceptance and participation in reality as it is, what’s the hurry? Wouldn’t it be better to wait a little while than to just offer one’s self up as a martyr at the first opportunity, for the sake of the joy and liberation of acceptance?
Well, It depends on what we mean by waiting. Macro patience; micro speed. Sometimes, people wait for the right opportunity to come along, for the government to soften to their cries, for someone or something else to change. That’s one kind of waiting. And, I believe that King is petitioning us to stop doing that. There is a different kind of waiting. There is the waiting one does for a seed to sprout. In a way, it isn’t waiting at all. It is planting — and understanding how seeds work. The one who plants doesn’t bother composing arguments that plants ought to be growing here or there. They don’t form ideals about how circumstances ought to be. They keep moving, knowing the joy of right action, and trusting that the results will take care of themselves.
And, are you someone who dedicates any amount of your precious time and resources to improving your community, to developing new economic models, or to regenerating ecosystems?
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