Today, after a peaceful three day weekend, I have decided to reflect a little bit about the man today's holiday is named for: Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King led a peaceful civil rights movement whose ultimate aim was the equal treatment of all African-Americans under the law.
Dr. King's pursuit of this goal came with a cost. On April 4, 1968, while in Memphis to support striking sanitation workers, he was assassinated outside his motel room. An article I read today noted a hateful letter sent from an anonymous FBI agent to Dr. King some time in 1964. Dr. King's courage in the face of such fierce opposition is amazing. The article also, in my opinion, guesses as to what Dr. King would be most vocal about today. They are:
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are unjust. (Update-while the wars may be over our country has an ongoing presence and commitments to these countries.
The disparity of wealth between the rich and the poor in America is unjust. (Update -remember the occupy movement? This original blogpost predated that movement and in the four years since this piece was published the gulf between rich and poor has grown.
The influence of corporate money in American politics is unjust. (update - this continues to go on i.e., Koch Bros . Which in turn leads to an apathetic voter turnout during a Presedential election of 2012 58.2% of all eligible voters and 37% turning out in an off year election.
A leader like Dr. King doesn't come around often, but his example and message are relevant today as they were 42 years ago.
To close here are a few quotes from Dr. King:
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one's whole being into the being of another.
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
Enjoy your holiday America but take a moment to thank the sacrifice MLK made for all Americans in the pursuit of an equitable nation.