I was born in 1961 in the south. The civil rights act was enacted in 1964 and to say the least was met with huge resistance. Issues connected to racism were a big part of my growing up. Memories related to the desegregation of schools are still particularly vivid. When I was a child Martin Luther King was a person who was directly connected in my mind to a conflict between “black” and “white” people. Its really only been in the last twenty years that I began to get my mind around what MLK actually did in a context much broader than issues of race. And its really only been in the last ten years that I have come to realize how truly heroic on an epic scale that MLK was.
I will go to an MLK parade today and I will do so with an enormous amount of sadness in my heart. Not because MLK died so that others may live a life with more freedom and dignity…but because inequality and the loss of personal liberty is growing at a clip much faster that at any time in my life. And because the leaders of industry and government are more corrupt than they have ever been while the public of the developed world displays a disgusting amount of ignorance / complacency / cowardice in terms of giving the same so called leaders (who aren’t fit to scrape the S%*T off of MLK’s shoes) a pass on doing absolutely nothing meaningful to lead the way in the face of huge systemic challenges that are profoundly impacting all of us, particularly when it comes to issues regarding liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
A worldwide debt crisis is met with leaders who continue to borrow more and more worthless money from central bankers who created the crisis and broken monetary system in the first place….. and that is just one of many, many huge and systemically threatening social challenges that are being met with absolute delusion, cowardice, complacency and corruption of the mind and spirit. 18,000 children starving every day – 6 million a year…. 50 million Americans (richest country in the world?) on food stamps…over 2 million adults in the U.S. in prisons….we have the highest rate of incarceration in the world…. (freest country in the world???….. people here are too afraid to take their vacations….least free is a hell of lot closer to the truth)…..less income equality in the U.S than there was in 1774…. not one Wall Street banker brought to justice for engineering the worst financial crisis/ fraud in modern history….on the contrary these men and their businesses were gifted hundreds of billions of dollars and protected and rewarded for choosing greed over service while the average person lost their homes to foreclosure….. and on and on…..
MLK knowingly risked and ultimately paid with his life so that other people would be able to live more free and with more dignity. Each and every one of us should see his life as a huge wake up call. We all have the power to make the world a better place for each other. But not by writing an essay like this or complaining in the context of social media. Educating yourself and speaking up are a start. But if there are no risks involved in an action then it almost automatically follows that at best that action will reinforce the status quo.
Liberty has never come from government or industry and never will.
Our constitution was written to protect us from the corruption that power automatically visits on human beings. But its just a piece of paper and paper and words are easily usurped by the combination of the corruption of power itself and the ignorance / complacency of the public / governed. In today’s America the constitution that was written to protect us from tyranny is almost worthless because the people do almost nothing to give it power. (please watch this video until the end….speaking of wake up calls).
Holding the powerful accountable is a never ending job and will always involve big risks.
MLK not only understood this. His life and legacy are proof of it.
Below are profound words of wisdom, just as revelant today as they were when written, from a man who personified the word “leader” and who was a true hero of the people.
“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
“The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But… the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”
“A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”
“The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”
“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
“We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”