Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jackie Kennedy, Dr. King, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Fourth Precept

Jacqueline Kennedy on Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sept. 8, 2011

Speaking in the months after her husband's assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy was so upset with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that she told a friend and interviewer that she could barely look at images of him. "I just can't see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man's terrible," Mrs. Kennedy said, as part of an oral history series of interviews released this month.

The Practical Buddhist Responds

Jackie Kennedy made her remarks in 1963, after she’d been poisoned by J.Edgar Hoover, the entrenched and scheming FBI head.  Hoover had fed government officials salacious rumors and outright lies about Dr. King. Apparently Jackie believed them at the time. By 1968, according to her daughter, the former first lady was proud to attend Dr. King’s funeral. 

Last Sunday President Omaba dedicated the enormous memorial to Dr. King on the Mall in Washington.  The fallen civil rights leader, though not without human faults, is almost universally revered today.

The Fourth Precept (or “Training”) acknowledges the power of words, and counsels loving speech and deep listening.

-Fourth Training-   as paraphrased by Thich Nath Hanh

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticise or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

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