King was a True Revolutionary Voice

I spent part of the day today reading a 1967 speech by Martin Luther King Jr. regarding his opposition to the conflict in Vietnam.   It is an amazing lengthy discussion of the merits of this war and the waste of blood and treasure on this conflict in Southeast Asia.  I was struck by how long and powerfully relevant this speech was for the time.  I cannot think of a venue today in which a non-politician would have opportunity to speak in such detail about a major issue of our time.  We have many 24 hour news channels that we did not have in 1967, and yet we never hear these long discussions of current events.  I would have loved to hear a similar speech by a community leader in 2007 about the War in Iraq or Afghanistan.  King was able to walk through the history of the conflict and the choices we were making in a "society gone mad on war."  King presents his recommendations and talks about his frustration with others who are not speaking about war as "silence is betrayal."

 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.”

We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls "enemy," for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

 Martin Luther King Jr. from his speech "Beyond Vietnam--A Time to Break Silence"  April 4, 1967 New York City

We remember Martin Luther King Jr. on the day of service and recognition of this great Civil Rights Leader.  We lost a great deal when King's voice was silenced in 1968.  He was so eloquent and one of the greatest speakers in American history.  I have to wonder if King would have been able to turn society against war and the Cold War spending that bankrupted our adversary so that we would have avoided the explosion in homelessness in the 1980s if he had lived.  King would have been 85 this year and I just cannot imagine all this infrastructure going to homeless shelters and emergency services if we had not lost his voice when he was beginning to frequently talk about income inequality. 

I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.

from Martin Luther King Jr. from Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? book

Brian Davis

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