Monday, January 17, 2011

The Dream Lives On

In honor of MLK Jr. day, I am reposting a couple of pieces that we've done in the past. Hopefully You'll forgive us for reusing old material. SJ has been extremely busy of late and I don't think I'm capable of writing anything better at this point.

A Dream Unrealized, But Worth Revisiting For All

In 1968, the very year that would mark the end of his life, Martin Luther King and the SCLC organized the "Poor People's Campaign." Dr. King traveled across the nation to assemble a "multi-racial army of the poor" to demand the Congress create a “bill of rights for poor Americans.” Dr. King demanded nothing less than the "reconstruction of society itself.”

This is a dream as yet unrealized, as I, an American born the year of Dr. King’s assassination will turn 42: soon to be three years his senior this year.

The current recession, as terrible as it may be for my contemporaries, is wreaking havoc on the lives of an entire generation of children living in poverty. Rarely do we talk about the jobless rates’ effects on the youngest of us in America. Dr. King wanted to bring that conversation to the fore as the Vietnam War raged on.

Anyone can be mired in poverty’s cycle. Too many of us are.

It’s important to insist that Dr. king’s legacy is everyone’s. His significance should not be lost on anyone who has ever struggled against unfairness. For anyone to let the color of their skin to preclude them from celebrating Dr. King’s legacy is to deny its central aspirations: unity, fairness, equality for all.

I wish a happy and hopeful Martin Luther King Day to you all, everywhere around the world.


" the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope". Those are the words that Barack Obama used in his now famous speech after the New Hampshire primary and it illustrates perfectly his connection with the man whose birthday we celebrate as a nation today. Hope is the tie that binds Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama. The hope and the belief that America can do and must do better. Obama's speech not only made the point that the destinies of all Americans are intertwined, but that people must have hope in order to make a better world. MLK's most famous speech was all about hope. It spoke of a nation that didn't exist. It spoke of the dreams of an America where someone like Barack Obama can reach the highest position in the land. They share the dream of a better America. Whether it is an America where people are judged by the "content of their character", or an America where we strive to build "a more perfect union", their goals were the same.

There has been a lot of talk about whether Obama's election is the culmination of MLK's dream. It is clearly a part of what he hoped for, but it is not the end of what he hoped for. Before his death, he was working on organizing another march on Washington. This one was going to be a poverty march. He looked across the country and realized that the underclass had no one to speak for them. He realized that the poor had no voice and no power to change their situation. His dream had expanded to include the poor of all colors. Whites in Appalachia, Hispanics in California, Native Americans in Oklahoma, they all became part of the dream. Injustice will always exist, that is why the dream will never be fulfilled. It is a moving target, as is Barack Obama's dream to build a more perfect union. Obama's words imply that the union can never be perfected, but we must always strive to make it better.

MLK led the greatest moral campaign that this country has ever known. He led a generation of people who were willing to put their lives on the line to make this country a better place. Tom Brokaw wrote a book about the WWII generation entitled "The Greatest Generation", however I think that designation should go to those who worked and fought and died so that the dream of America could be shared by all Americans. It is somewhat easier to make those sacrifices when the entire country agrees with you, but when you are faced with the opposition of the majority of the citizens of this country, it takes an extraordinary type of intestinal fortitude to persevere. Barack Obama is not the successor to MLK. As President, his moral compass will not be as consistent as MLK's was. His goals will not be as single minded as MLK's were. They can't be. The job of President is much more complicated and Obama is not just the representative of some of us, he is the representative of all of us. Those who have expectations that Obama will lead a moral revolution on the scale of MLK will be disappointed.

MLK was the leader of a movement that changed this nation forever. Barack Obama is about to become the leader of the country and his election has changed this nation forever. They will always be inexorably linked. The fact that Obama will be inaugurated on the day after this nation celebrates the birthday of MLK would lead many to invoke the term, poetic justice. MLK's dream is alive in Barack Obama as it is in every person who strives to make this world a better place. The Dream and the Perfect Union remain out of reach, but it is in the striving for those things that we tap into the better angels of our nature. It is our willingness to try, regardless of the obstacles in our way, that keeps the Dream alive. MLK would most likely be very proud of Barack Obama, not only because of what he represents, but because Obama is still challenging the nation to be better. Indeed that is ultimately what links them. We can be better, we just need someone to show us the way.
- Mycue23
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In the Crosshairs

I have written before about the deplorable state of political discourse in this country. In fact I'd like to start out with a paragraph from a piece I wrote a couple of months ago: 

"The real problem with this open animosity is that it allows the actual issues of the day to be pushed to the side in an all out attempt to win. You see the idea that the end of the world is nigh becomes the driving force behind all political action. Politicians use the most extreme language to describe the opposition in order to evoke a visceral reaction from their followers. The actual policies are not the important thing, the most important thing that voters take away from these demagogues is that if the opposition wins, their lives as they know it will be over. I could get into more complicated explanations about the backlash of white males and the similarities to the strategies employed by Nixon in '68 and even more forcefully in '72, but there really is no need. Both parties are guilty of overuse of hyperbole in describing the repercussions to America should their opponents be victorious in the next election."

The tragedy in Arizona over the weekend has given us all another chance to sharpen our collective rhetorical knives and start attacking the other side. The problem, once again, is that the issue, the real issue is being lost. The issue that should be at the forefront is how was this nut was able to 1) legally buy a gun and 2) buy one that held a 30 bullet clip. His attack was finally stopped when he had to reload that gun. What exactly are the gun laws in Arizona? Isn't it time to revisit the laws pertaining to what exactly is needed by a civilian in order to go hunting or to protect their home? When are we going to get serious about enforcing the assault weapons ban

I know the gun lobby was already painting the President as someone who would take their guns away when he got into office and so this issue has received no attention from this administration or this Congress. I would hope that this horrible incident will allow those in government the opportunity to discuss this problem with slightly less rhetoric than usual. The people who died and were injured should not be used as fodder for a new round of political name calling and finger pointing. There is a real issue here and while the political discourse needs to find a new level of civility, that is not the main point that we should be discussing. There are literally people's lives at stake here. You can't stop insane people from thinking insane thoughts and committing insane deeds, but perhaps our government can try a little harder to keep the instruments of mass mayhem out of their hands.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

And They're Off...

Michelle Bachman has made it known that she is looking into running for President in 2012. She is the first of the Republican candidates to make any public declaration of her intentions at this point. I provide for your amusement and horror some of the most infamous quotes of this woman who would be our leader: 

1. "I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another, then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence."

2. "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?"

3. "Take this into consideration. If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that's how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps. I'm not saying that that's what the Administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up, in a violation of their constitutional rights, and put the Japanese in internment camps."

4. "Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas."

5. "There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design."

6. "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us 'having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,' and the people -- we the people -- are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country."

7. "I don't know where they're going to get all this money because we're running out of rich people in this country." 

That, my friends, is just a small sample of the lunacy that has come out of Michelle Bachman's mouth. This is just one example of the caliber of candidate that the Republican party has to offer this country. Some may dismiss her out of hand, but keep in mind that she raised more money than any other Congressional candidate in the last election. Out of state money flowed in buckets into her campaign coffers. While some on the left seem to make a habit of bashing our current President, I would hope that they always keep in mind what's waiting for them on the other side. And if you think it can't happen, just remember that we currently have a black man sitting in the White House and try and remember how impossible that seemed just a couple of years ago. We, as a country, are literally one big crisis away from making a monumental mistake at the ballot box.  
Enhanced by Zemanta