Security was relatively lax, in fact there was none at all. Any cheap swine could merely wander in from the cold Chicago evening to seek warmth, and any two bit punk with half an idea could pull off the unthinkable in this situation.
Surely more concern with the recent wake of fear driven by the happening in Tuscon should’ve spurred better thinking. And yet 130 souls were crammed into the same auditorium to listen to the good Reverend speak.
This was no mere happenstance, he was appearing at the request of the Department of Student Divinity and Multi-Cultural Affairs. The keynote speaker to cap off the celebration honoring Martin Luther King jr.’s life and tragic death.
He spoke with his usual aplomb. Rev. Al Sharpton’s rhetoric sounds so sweet, yet continually missed the mark. His speech was muddled from the beginning. Was he challenging the audience to do better things? To live up to the benchmark King set? Or was this underhanded bravado, boasting of what it was he had done in his life?
Sharpton is a man of compelling oration, craftily working in humor into the seriousness of his message, but his words are conveyed without pathos. Feeling hollow and somehow empty when they are chewed over.
Opening the floor up for questions, the audience members pulled their punches. There were no questions about Tawana Brawley, no inquiries about his comments about other religions. Instead the crowd asked lay-up questions: His relationship with President Obama, his thoughts on the African-American community being environmentally active, and a softball sized question for him to knock out of the park on the Tea Party.
Sharpton concluded the speech nicely, revisiting Martin Luther King jr. and the monument they are erecting to him in Washington D.C.
“As long as D.C. stands that monument will stand. Try to find that difficult task that will last longer than your life,” Sharpton said. “Don’t do it for the good of some organization. Do it for the good of you. That’s the spirit of Martin Luther King jr.”
This is a foolish errand.
Better, smarter and more dedicated folk have traveled this path, and their stories are chronicled in pits of madness or concluded, unfinished on the great highway of life.
Kerouac and Thompson sought it and left befuddled. Fitzgerald and Joyce attempted to fictionalize it, leaving their characters lost, dead, unsatisfied.
But it’s out there. It has to be out there.
It is defined by dictionary.com as such:
Authenticity: [aw-then-tik] adj. 1. Not false or copied; genuine; real 2. Entitled to acceptance or belief because of known facts or experience.
That is it, at least in definition. But are there real people out there? Where are the true encounters to be had? Does it exist only in moments? Is this need to find something authentic in life nothing more than a sensationalized letter from a mythical king?
This is an ongoing story, an exploration to play cartographer to the human experience. It will thread its way through news articles, interviews and personal observations. All that is needed is an open mind and patience.
So with ears pressed to the ground, listening to the massive kick drum beating in the chest of every soul, the journey–