Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MLK Jr. - Reflecting On A Day Of Reflection

Surfing channels, watching the one or two minute segments allotted for remembrance and reflection on Martin Luther King Day, I was struck by the lack of in-depth analysis and discussion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's message - but it wasn't until I tuned into “Democracy Now” that I realized just how shallow and surface the discussion of his message is routinely handled in mainstream media.

Most of us are familiar with, awed by and stand humbled before Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. It is an historic miracle of oration delivered to a sea of hopeful, determined American citizens who not only shared in that dream but who were willing to use their minds, bodies and voices to bring that dream to fruition….the dream of freedom and justice for all Americans.
Theirs was the dream of civil rights, realized. And Dr. King  accomplished much in bringing that message to the hearts and minds of citizens of every race and creed across America.

But few of us seem to be aware of Martin Luther King Jr - the sharp anti-war critic.
I had mostly heard his call to non-violence in the context of civil rights for minorities and his challenge to those who would call themselves morally superior, even while keeping a race oppressed, disenfranchised and drowning in poverty.
I had heard him challenge the powers that be…the men and women who stand against change and for the status quo, the ones who were willing to bloody peaceful, unarmed, demonstrators marching for the very Christ-like value of equality and justice, regardless of race or culture. But I had never heard Dr. King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech before. Well, maybe short excerpts, but a large comprehensive chunk of it? No. Not until last night when Amy Goodman, anchor and creator of  “Democracy Now”, devoted most of yesterday's broadcast to that amazing indictment of a super-power gone wrong.

His speech is moving, it is clear-eyed, it is brave. "Beyond Vietnam" should be used by teachers everywhere – in grade school, high school and institutions of higher education as a model for "Speaking Truth To Power". 

Dr. King famously said, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere”.  Which makes speaking truth to power a necessary and obligatory checks and balances for all democratic societies, or any voluntary association to function properly and sustain its integrity.  
Yes, hierarchy is more expedient. It is more efficient at maintaining control, but it also pushes all entitlements to the top, assumes all ownership of ideas and innovations of those under their command and is therefore a structure deliberately purposed for theft.     
Which is what the dream of America has become. It is a terrible thing to watch a person or a country you love lose their way, it’s kind of like watching a Super-Hero turn Evil. It feels like you've lost a piece of yourself, or a large piece of you has died. Especially, when that Hero or loved one, suddenly sees you and your challenge of their value shift as a thing to be silenced, or destroyed.

There is a great fear among the rich that if they bend toward actual justice, a restructuring of the way business is done in the world, kind of justice…they will lose their privilege, their carefully strategized advantage. Classism is the foundation of enslavement - keep a people down and they will do anything to survive, including clean your house and pick your cotton.
The Fear of Change - that is the evil that Martin Luther King Jr, his family, and his community of supporters had to live under and struggle through. That was the artillery leveled against his message. And eventually, that was the ordnance that found its mark.
But while that fear may have ended the man's life…it could not silence his message. Nor could it stop the momentum of self-examination and self-realization that his message set in motion – the very heart and seed of Change.

Here is the link to yesterday's broadcast for those of you who haven't heard the speech. Con-sidering the current rumors of war being floated around the country regarding Syria, and then later Iran...I highly recommend it. http://www.democracynow.org/2011/1/17/special_dr_martin_luther_king_jr

At least, that's the way it seems to me,

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