January 19, 2009

Bruised Hands

I have been away for longer than I would have liked. I have been brewing one post after another for the victims of Gaza for a few weeks now. But no words seem to the situation justice so I simply stew and carry on.

I realized late today that today is MLK day in the states, and again, I would love to written an eloquent post about Dr. King and his legacy, but instead I would like to share experts from one of my favorite speeches of his. You can read Beyond Vietnam in its entirety here. While you do, I suggest you change the word Vietnam to Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Gaza for that matter.

While collectively we may feel war and fuzzy merging Dr. King’s I Have Dream speech with images from the inauguration of our first African-American president, I think it would behoove us as a nation to not lose sight of the points that King makes in this speech:

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

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. [sustained applause]

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 call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I'm not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.

I end my political hiatus today by recanting Dr. King’s words in hopes that as Obama moves into the White House, he delivers on his promises to the American people. I hope that he has the desire, the power, and the heart to not only listen to and hear these words, but to act upon them. President Obama, let's see what you got!

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