9/01/2010

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every year on the third Monday in January, a day which supposedly is set aside to honor the life and example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who unquestionably is one of the greatest figures in American history, most Americans instead choose to go about their usual business, doing the usual things in a thoughtless manner. It clearly would be much better, both for themselves and for their nation, if they could cease their foolish pursuits, if only for one day, and took the time to heed the wise words of Dr. King.

On nonviolence:
"Admittedly, nonviolence in the truest sense is not a strategy that one uses simply because it is expedient at the moment; nonviolence is ultimately a way of life that men live by because of the sheer morality of its claim."
On war:
"In this day of man's highest technical achievement, in this day of dazzling discovery, of novel opportunities, loftier dignities and fuller freedom for all, there is no excuse for the kind of blind craving for power and resources that provoked the wars of previous generations. There is no need to fight for food and land."
On conformity:
"Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position that stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody."
On poverty:
"The poor in our countries have been shut out of our minds and driven from the mainstream of our societies, because we have allowed them to become invisible."
Unfortunately, it must be stated that Martin Luther King Jr. Day has never been anything more than an annual occasion for lip service in the United States of America, and a shallow excuse for millions of mindless citizens to have a long weekend. In truth, most Americans utterly reject the high-minded teachings of Dr. King. They prefer to follow a depraved creed of Americanism that extols the necessity of violence and greed.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed by a gunshot in Memphis, Tennessee, in April of 1968, America suffered an immeasurable loss that even now, decades later, continues to be palpable. It is one thing to "honor" Dr. King with an empty holiday, but it is quite another thing to honestly acknowledge the virtue and the verity of his profound beliefs, and to give serious thought to the many questions that he courageously raised in his brief lifetime.