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hooks offers message of peace

The message of peace and the importance of "living in the now" were the themes of a lecture by cultural critic, feminist theorist and writer bell hooks, who spoke Jan. 15 to a capacity crowd of 600 in the Michigan Union Ballroom.
hooks (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)

Touching on topics of war, terrorism, the impact of the Sept. 11 attacks, violence, the media, affirmative action and the environment, hooks compared current world events with what she called the "prophetic messages" of Martin Luther King Jr.

Citing a recent event in Texas where she was booed for speaking against war, hooks said she was reminded of King's opposition to the war in Vietnam, his stand against imperialism, militarism and racism, and his prominent message of non-violence.

hooks, who signs her name in lower-case letters, quoted King: "We have inherited a large house, a great world house, in which we have to live together. Black and white, easterner and westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu, a family unduly separated in ideas, cultures and interests, who because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace."

Speaking about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, hooks discussed the random nature of death. "We have forged our connections across the barriers of race, class, geography, religion and status," she said, "confining our differences, making space for what we have in common to connect and bind us." She said we are all united by death's power, which wipes out all differences.

Referring to King's quote, "We must learn how to live in the now," hooks said the only life we have and know is in our now. "To live fixated on the future is to engage in a form of psychic violence that prepares us to accept the violence needed to ensure the maintenance of an imperialist future-oriented society. To choose to live fully, we must choose peace within and without," hooks said. "We must choose against violence."

hooks urged the audience to acknowledge a connectedness to each other and realize that how people live has an impact on the global community, referring to the rich, extreme lifestyles of some that result in the "slaughter" of others.

"We are called right now to do the work of repairing the world," hooks said. "To do this work rightly, we must first make sure that all is well with our souls. We must find peace within to bring peace without."

The lecture was sponsored by Information Technology Central Services, the Law Library, the MLK Symposium Planning Committee, Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives, the School of Information, University Housing and the University Library.

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