In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was deeply involved with racist skinhead organizations, a reverend of a self-declared Racial Holy War, and lead singer of the hate-metal band Centurion, which sold 20,000 CDs by the mid-nineties and is still popular with racists today. Single parenthood, love for my daughter, and the forgiveness shown by people I once hated all helped to turn my life around, bringing me to embrace diversity and practice gratitude for all life. Today I am a speaker, author of My Life After Hate, and very fortunate to be able to share an ongoing process of character development working with Serve 2 Unite. Leveraging an online magazine, S2U engages students creatively with a global network of peacemakers and mentors in partnership with Against Violent Extremism, The Forgiveness Project, and Over My Shoulder Foundation
4 years ago today dawned the understanding that I will find what I seek.
The catalyst for this realization was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech “A Time to Break the Silence“, in which he illustrated an intention of peace for Vietnam with interdependent compassion and pragmatic genius. Dr. King’s openness and honesty demonstrated the authentic presence of our common humanity. He inspired a courage to face my past, and share my path with an aspiration for us to all guide each other to a place of caring. He gave me an appreciation of this basically good experience that we all co-create. He demonstrated a mutual responsibility to serve, revealing a natural affinity to unite.
Today I am graced with a fundamental gratitude for each moment of this life that wouldn’t be possible without the impact made by this brilliant man. Dr. King taught me ability to cultivate whatever I put my heart and mind to, and the sublime gift of mindful wisdom in choosing what to sow. Studying his lead, it was plain that we exist in a system that responds according to what we practice. Our practice shapes our lives, and all lives that intersect, which ultimately is all life. All reality. All existence. All that is at stake when we choose to look for inspiration, or insult. Whether we find interdependencies or isolation depends on this choice. Whether suffering is eased or perpetuated is decided each moment of every day, by every one of us. Together we have the gentle, irresistible power to break even the most hardened of hearts, and expose the tenderness within. Together we can topple engines of fear and ignorance and set love in motion to fill any void.
Together, we are a continuance of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
My love and gratitude are yours Dr. King.
You are always with us.