Sunday, July 27, 2014

Getting Sound Advice from MLK

By Gary Berg-Cross

Agonizing over the various conflicts around the globe I wondered what Martin Luther King might have said.  At the time he spoke up about the Vietnam war the main street press largely criticized him:

I am convinced that it is one of the most unjust wars that has ever been fought in the history of the world. Our involvement in the war in Vietnam has torn up the Geneva Accord. It has strengthened the military-industrial complex; it has strengthened the forces of reaction in our nation. It has put us against the self-determination of a vast majority of the Vietnamese people, and put us in the position

of protecting a corrupt regime that is stacked against the poor.
It has played havoc with our domestic destinies. This day we are spending five hundred thousand dollars to kill every Vietcong soldier. Every time we kill one we spend about five hundred thousand dollars while we spend only fifty-three dollars a year for every person characterized as poverty-stricken in the so-called poverty program, which is not even a good skirmish against poverty.

Not only that, it has put us in a position of appearing to the world as an arrogant nation. And here we are ten thousand miles away from home fighting for the so-called freedom of the Vietnamese people when we have not even put our own house in order. And we force young black men and young white men to fight and kill in brutal solidarity. Yet when they come back home that can’t hardly live on the same block together.
The judgment of God is upon us today. And we could go right down the line and see that something must be done—and something must be done quickly. We have alienated ourselves from other nations so we end up morally and politically isolated in the world. There is not a single major ally of the United States of America that would dare send a troop to Vietnam, and so the only friends that we have now are a few client-nations like Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, and a few others.
This is where we are. "Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind," and the best way to start is to put an end to war in Vietnam.

Well we are long past Vietnam but justice and judgment are still issues. 
Pushed by Neocons and ill served by career politicians lobbyists and a careerist, collaborative press we stumbled into Iraq.  We still brandish weapons at Iran, support authoritarian regimes, military-security states, occupations and drone populations into enemies at will.  We are grid locked and unable to stop the various wars that threaten.

The neocon voices are heard loudly in the land so perhaps a quick visit to the MLK memorial and some quotes brought up to date from him can put us in a better peace perspective.  What would MLK say?  And what goes through people's mind as they face the challenge of a moral life?

"I oppose the war in Vietnam (add your favorite here – Gaza, Ukraine, Iran etc.) because I love America. I speak out against it not in anger but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and above all with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as a moral example of the world."
Anti-War Conference, Los Angeles, California, February 26, 1967.

"Injustice anywhere (again add your favorite here – Gaza, Ukraine, Iran, Lybia, Syria etc.) is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
Letter from Birmingham, Alabama jail, April 16, 1963.

"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits." (Only we aren't going to pay for any of it.)
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Oslo, Norway, 1964

"It is not enough to say 'We must not wage war.' It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but the positive affirmation of peace." (I hear in Congress that we must restore full funding to DoD.)
Anti-War Conference, Los Angeles, California, February 25, 1967.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." (OK, I think we have the challenge and controversy, who’s standing where?)
Strength to Love, 1963.

"Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies."
New York City, April 4, 1967. (Oh that UN thing again.  What about American/Israeli/Russian etc. exceptionalism?)

"If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective."
Christmas sermon, Atlanta, Georgia, 1967. (See above….our loyalties are too important to give to the world for free it seems.)

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Oslo, Norway, 1964. (OK, this temporary has gone on long enough.)

"Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in."
March for Integrated Schools, April 18, 1959. (I might make this a career, after all jobs are hard to come by  What does it pay?)

Contemplate these and see where you stand on events. Comments appreciated. 

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