Contemporary leaders learn from studying history and the individuals who have gone before. We look at one recent performance and two books published in 2017 that allow us insights into the past and inspire our work today.
As part of the 2018 New York Live Arts Ideas Festival, considering radical vision for democracy, Bill T. Jones directed Prayers of the People / A Rite of Responsibility conceived by Kenyon Victor Adams and performed at New York Live Arts on Sunday, April 22nd. The piece incorporated the words from Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail and reimagined it as a liturgy. The audience was asked to kneel, stand and recite verses, as they would in a church service. The text was sung by six cantors wearing black hoodies.
Participating in Dr. Kings words, not just reading them from a page, brings one more viscerally
into the concepts around injustice, on the one hand, and the power of non-violence on the other.
Gloria Steinem wrote the Forward for a book entitled: A Passionate Life, Writings by and on Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay (Zubaan, New Delhi, India, 2017). Ms. Kamaladevi used the ideas and teaching of Gandhian non-violence tactics in the struggle for Indian independence and in the women’s movement in India and internationally. This book, edited by Ellen Carol Dubois and Vinay Lal, provides us with a window into her life and work through her own writings and essays contributed by others. Ms. Steinem credits her with being an inspiration for her activism and writing.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama published a book last year entitled: The Life of My Teacher: A Biography of Kyabjé Ling Rinpoché. Rinpoché (1903–83) was a leading Buddhist leader and became a teacher and mentor to the Dalai Lama, particularly during the period when Communist forces were invading Tibet. Rinpoché’s traveled among exiled communities and in India and helped those members of the Tibetan diaspora as they struggled to find a new life outside of their beloved country. This is an inspirational book that provides an insight into understanding how the tenets of Buddhism and their desire to avoid conflict.