Archive | January 2012

Confronting racism and prejudice requires creative tension, Letters from the Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King

What a powerful experience to come together on Martin Luther King’s birthday to hear and discuss the letter he wrote from the Birmingham Jail. Several years ago the writer had the opportunity to attend a gathering of men and women to a dialogue/disdussion sponsored by the Mankind Project (the event was organized by Mr. Lenny Hoffman who is a member of each group) and The Center for the Healing of Racism both based in Houston, Texas.

As person after person stood up to read a portion of Dr. King’s letter, they also shared how the letter and King’s life had affected them. ip of the Civil Rights movement. Their comments were potent, emotional, and thought-provoking. I was impressed how counsel is found in the sacred circle of storytelling as it was that night.

Dr. Virgil Wood, one of the participants, told us he was a Baptist minister during the Civil Rights era,, and had worked alongside of Dr. King for ten years. He was jailed three times with Dr. King. He was an eyewitness elder so we were very blessed to have him with us that night. He mentioned that the Letter from the Birmingham jail was suffused with the soul of Dr. King. He also observed that he felt that MLK didn’t have a chance to finish his mission: he never got to focus on the economic exploitation of
African Americans and other poor and oppressed people.

Dr.King protested the Vietnam War, for both the perpetrators and those who are oppressed. It was this imperialistic policy that exploited the people of Vietnam. In Dr. King’s mind, if one person suffered human indignity, then we all suffer. We are all human beings and have this as our common denominator. Each person on this planet is born free, and our inherent Human Rightst can never be stolen from us in the final analysis. Our minds must transform and they must be fought for and preserveds at all costs.

As we observe Martin Luther King Day in whatever way we choose Let’s remember the essence of his message for us all: If we could choose and commit to what these words reveal:


All life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. (Dr. Martin Luther King)

© Christopher Bear Beam 01/14/2012

Austin VA Resources for Vets Who May Have Financial, Medical, and Mental Health Conflicts

When you say the words “military” or “war” many folks react with distinct mistrust or anger, or in other ways. Of course, many support the military, perhaps to a fault. This writer was very much in the former camp for a long time, but seeing changes the military has made offers this journalist hope. I’m a Vietnam Era Vet.

When Vets returned from Vietnam and now Afghanistan or Iraq, they often don’t feel accepted. This may simply be an anxious mood of not belonging or feeling separation from everyone else around them. They may have many conflicts within themselves and perhaps with rest of society. What can they do to seek resolution to some of the conflicts they encounter.

There’s a number of good resources available. Some of the ones this writer will list are online, some are local, and some may be contacted by phone. so check out the website to see if you are eligible for their services. This website is the City of Austin’s way of helping Vets. It’s Austin’s way of giving back to Vets who have made many sacrifices; a collaboration with the VA, supporting military families. They offer a number of helpful resources:

A comprehensive website for various issues that Austin’s homeless and non-homeless Vets have on a daily basis.–resources for many different needs. (Texas Veteran’s Commission in Austin) offers many services to Vets. Email:

Mental Health Clinic (MHC):
Outpatient mental health services are offered at the Austin, Temple, and Waco facilities. The MHCs provide general outpatient mental health services to eligible veterans as well as to family or significant others, adjunctive to the effective treatment of the veteran. Patients’ mental health needs are assessed and treatment planned to meet these individual needs. These services operate in Austin, Temple and Waco.

Vets who find themselves homeless can go to this same location, and seek s support and help from the Homeless Vets Program. It’s on the first floor.

Contact and Location: 101 South I-35
Southgate Building
Austin, TX  78741
Phone: (512) 433-2020 (ext. 52020)

National Vets Suicide Hotline: 1-800-252-VETS(8387).

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