Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dr. King's Living Legacy

This MLK jr speech, "A time to Break the Silence ~ Beyond Vietnam" was given April 4, 1967
Even though it was 43 years ago, you can interchange the names...

communism = terrorism

Vietnam = Iraq/Afghanistan

He would call the United States “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”

The names of the "enemy" & the countries they take place in have changed, but the core of his speech is hauntingly parallel to today's reality.
The line that rings especially true to me, is in red text.

"A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and, through their misguided passions, urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not engage in a negative anticommunism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity, and injustice, which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. We in the West must support these revolutions.

It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch antirevolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."

This is the stuff Nobel Peace Prizes are made of.

I salute you Dr. King, your life's work & dedication to non-violence are a living activism, not dusty history we look back on. That we should sustain your grace & fortitude.


Lulu Maude said...

A day worth celebrating, a man worth venerating.

Fran said...

I don't know if people realized how risky it was for MLK jr, to publicly speak out against the war in this way. He was already taking great risk to head up the Civi Rights movement.... get arrested & his home & family threatened. He did not just say as a Minister, he was morally opposed to the war-- he put it all out there on the table--

• the exploitation of impoverished youth

• the % of impoverished youth doing the fighting & dying

• the failure of the US to use diplomatic & non-violent methods

• compassion for the innocent people suffering as a result of US violence

• calling out the US for using Napalm, Agent Orange, and other chemical warfare items.

• Spending obscene amounts of money for warfare rather than using it for good & necessary expenses.

• finally, he said if we don;t get a grip on this mentality, that this same scenario will continue to be repeated in different places all over the world, until we hit "spiritual death".

King held back nothing in his speech about war and the details to oppose it.

When someone speaks the truth in such a profound way, it holds up over time- in such an undeniable way.

These very same arguments are why I am struggling to support President Obama.
From his Nobel Peace Prize speech:

"I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak -- nothing passive -- nothing naïve -- in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world."

Gandhi put it best-" An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind."