In the history of American politics,yesterday, the 28th August was a memorable day. It was on 28th August 1963 that Martin Luther king delivered his famous speech – “I have a Dream.” It was a great speech that will be remembered by all progressive societies for many decades. Not only did it motivate the black American to rise and demand their citizenship, but it is also regarded as one of the greatest speeches ever written and delivered to very large audience with unmatched enthusiasm and great alacrity.
The contribution of Martin Luther king for securing equal rights for African Americans is greater than anyone else. But for him it would have been impossible for Barrack Obama to become the 44th president of the most powerful nation on the earth.
The greatness of a leader is seen and recognized from the high degree of passion with which he/she is devoted to the cause. That becomes the force which is difficult to be faced and fought with by the opponents. Great leaders with great passion and total selflessness can bring about sweeping changes every society needs from time to time.
If we were to select main qualities of great leaders, I would list the following in order of importance.
Passion for a cause
Excellent Public Speaking abilities
How I wish that today we may also have some leaders with some semblance of what a great leader Dr Martin Lither King was.
What is religion? If the devil and the angel are both residing in one’s mind – why is religion so necessary? The devil is strong and grows at an immense pace. But the angel is initially weak and needs constant support of the individual concerned. Religion is a set of rules which one follows to tame the devil, and to nurture the angel.
Each religion teaches the same. There could be a difference in methodology. There could be a differences in some of the rituals. There could be differences in the ways in which each religion is taught; but the objective is the same. The common objective therefore, should be a uniting force. So said the playwright, poet and thinker – T.S. Elliot. “Religion must be a uniting force, but unfortunately some selfish, self-styled religious leaders connive it to divide humanity.
Swami Vivekanand delineated the same idea in his famous speech at the world Parliament of Religions in Chicago. The same is reproduced below:
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. l thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; and I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects. My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration.I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to the southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings:
As the different streams having there sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to thee.
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world, of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita:
Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me.
Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.