Where you stand in moments of controversy

I wrote this again after the 02/14/2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida…

I’m not sure why, but what came to my mind today, after hearing the news of a mass shooting in one of my city’s schools, was something that my son wrote back in 2009. Mateus, then a 17 year-old senior, penned a short essay to support his application for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship at Boston University.

Let me share it with you…

///

Here are the instructions he received: Write a 500-word essay describing how the following quotation has affected you personally. Please use specific examples from your own life, while also connecting your answer to the quotation and the legacy of Dr. King. “The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and the moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta, January 27, 1965.

///

Here’s my son’s essay…

Despite being imprisoned and threatened, Martin Luther King, Jr. refused to use violence. Instead, he chose active nonviolence as the way to advance social change. He stood by the unpopular doctrine of nonviolence from beginning to end, and he proved to the world he was right by his unwavering determination to stay firm in moments of challenge.

My first experience against violence came in sixth grade, when “paintballing” was becoming a very popular activity. All my friends found delight in shooting each other and comparing bruises afterwards, but I felt differently. At first, I was ostracized since I was the only one not looking at guns in magazines or trying to find the best places to play paintball. I quickly discovered, though, that my choice to not participate only made me a stronger person. At the age of eleven, I was learning what it meant to have integrity against violence.

In seventh grade, I was presented with the argument over capital punishment in my Speech and Debate class. I discovered I was a forceful opponent of the death penalty. My strong arguments resounded in class, and my teacher even confessed to my parents that I persuaded her to change her position. Dr. King’s words inspired my belief. He said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”

During my high school years I had to stand up and speak up for my deepest beliefs. With our country involved in war, I spoke about the ineffectiveness of violence. When our government refused to talk to our enemies, I stood up to express how much I believe in dialogue as the only way to peace. With so many defending torture as a necessity for our safety, I spoke of it as unacceptable by all means. When I heard nasty generalizations about Muslims beings terrorists, I not only spoke up but I made a point of trying to eliminate those stereotypes. In fact, as a result of my efforts, one of my closest friends today is Muslim. When I heard racist remarks in my school, or vulgar language that diminished any particular group, I spoke up to express that we are all human beings and that what unites us is immensely larger than what separates us. With so many praising a violent system, based in extreme competition and survival of the fittest, I spoke in defense of cooperation and the need for a beloved community, one where we extend a helping hand to lift up the downtrodden. My efforts culminated in the International Day of Peace Assembly, where the messages of humanitarians and peacemakers such as Dr. King were heard again by the whole school.

I have never found it easy to remain firmly planted in my beliefs when they were unpopular. I am sure it was very difficult for Dr. King as well. However, I found an inner reward in doing what I think is right. John F. Kennedy said it best when he affirmed that “true democracy… will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right.”

~ Mateus Cesca Falci

///

Although he was accepted at Boston University – his brother’s alma mater — after a long consideration Mateus decided to join another school. He graduated in 2014 from Harvard with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He is currently pursuing a career as a musician in New York City, holding the belief that, through music, he will be able to influence, inspire and engage others in the joyful work of creating a better world.

//////

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Report on the C.I.A.’s Use of Torture was made public two days ago, and we are drowning in an ocean of opinions condemning and defending the use of torture.

Report on Torture

In the middle of all this, what came to my mind was something that my son wrote back in 2009. Mateus, then a 17 year-old senior, penned a short essay to support his application for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship at Boston University.

Let me share it with you…

///

Write a 500-word essay describing how the following quotation has affected you personally. Please use specific examples from your own life, while also connecting your answer to the quotation and the legacy of Dr. King. “The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and the moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta, January 27, 1965.

///

Here’s my son’s essay…

Despite being imprisoned and threatened, Martin Luther King, Jr. refused to use violence. Instead, he chose active nonviolence as the way to advance social change. He stood by the unpopular doctrine of nonviolence from beginning to end, and he proved to the world he was right by his unwavering determination to stay firm in moments of challenge.

My first experience against violence came in sixth grade, when “paintballing” was becoming a very popular activity. All my friends found delight in shooting each other and comparing bruises afterwards, but I felt differently. At first, I was ostracized since I was the only one not looking at guns in magazines or trying to find the best places to play paintball. I quickly discovered, though, that my choice to not participate only made me a stronger person. At the age of eleven, I was learning what it meant to have integrity against violence.

In seventh grade, I was presented with the argument over capital punishment in my Speech and Debate class. I discovered I was a forceful opponent of the death penalty. My strong arguments resounded in class, and my teacher even confessed to my parents that I persuaded her to change her position. Dr. King’s words inspired my belief. He said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”

During my high school years I had to stand up and speak up for my deepest beliefs. With our country involved in war, I spoke about the ineffectiveness of violence. When our government refused to talk to our enemies, I stood up to express how much I believe in dialogue as the only way to peace. With so many defending torture as a necessity for our safety, I spoke of it as unacceptable by all means. When I heard nasty generalizations about Muslims beings terrorists, I not only spoke up but I made a point of trying to eliminate those stereotypes. In fact, as a result of my efforts, one of my closest friends today is Muslim. When I heard racist remarks in my school, or vulgar language that diminished any particular group, I spoke up to express that we are all human beings and that what unites us is immensely larger than what separates us. With so many praising a violent system, based in extreme competition and survival of the fittest, I spoke in defense of cooperation and the need for a beloved community, one where we extend a helping hand to lift up the downtrodden. My efforts culminated in the International Day of Peace Assembly, where the messages of humanitarians and peacemakers such as Dr. King were heard again by the whole school.

I have never found it easy to remain firmly planted in my beliefs when they were unpopular. I am sure it was very difficult for Dr. King as well. However, I found an inner reward in doing what I think is right. John F. Kennedy said it best when he affirmed that “true democracy… will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right.”

~ Mateus Cesca Falci

///

Although he was accepted at Boston University – his brother’s alma mater — after a long consideration Mateus decided to join another school. He graduated in 2014 from Harvard with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He is currently pursuing a career as a musician in New York City, holding the belief that, through music, he will be able to influence, inspire and engage others in the joyful work of creating a better world.

///

The picture taken at the graduation of Mateus is now on the cover of Pedro’s book, “So You’re Going to College.” 

If you would like a copy of Pedro’s book, just click on the link below which will take you to the site where you can purchase the book online.

https://www.createspace.com/4966868

Thank you.

So You're Going to College Book Cover

Postcard Pedro4x6-BACK

https://www.createspace.com/4966868

///

Finally, here’s a link to a nice article about Boston University’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. scholarship.

http://www.bu.edu/today/2010/wanted-another-martin-luther-king-jr/

 

Leave a Reply