January 16, 2012 - What a spectacle, the "first black president" of the United States celebrating Martin Luther King Jr Day. How far we've come, or so it would seem.
And while King was primarily a civil rights activist seeking equality amongst men based on their humanity, not the countenance of their skin, and the fact that a black man can become president is indeed progress, King was also a champion for humanity in general. He was a peace activist as much as a civil rights activist.
In a speech given on April 4, 1967 in New York City titled, "Beyond Vietnam - A Time to Break Silence," King gives what is perhaps the widest encapsulation of his philosophy and worldview, one that would undoubtedly criticize and clash with the disingenuous US president celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year. And the beauty of the equality King helped usher in is, the fact that Obama is black should not shield him from the criticism of the very man that helped pave the way for his accession to office.
One section of King's enlightening speech criticizing the Vietnam War states:
"It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin...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, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.It is safe to say that America has not mended its ways and only traveled further down the dark path King warned us of back in 1967. The man "leading" us, or at least the front-man for the corporate-financier interests that drive America's destiny, may honor King with carefully contrived words and well orchestrated ceremony, but in deeds and actions Obama and the corporate-financier elite that hold his leash, defame and dishonor King in every way imaginable.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. 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.
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."
If you want to honor King and his life's work, honor it by implementing the words he uttered while alive, not by playing along with a system that resisted him until his death, and has since dishonored him with disingenuous praise while maliciously carrying out an agenda contra to everything King ever stood for.
You can read and listen to the whole April 4, 1967 speech, "Beyond Vietnam - A Time to Break Silence" on AmericanRhetoric.com.