Sunday, January 15, 2017

What kind of a nation are we?

Today is the anniversary of the birth date of Martin Luther King, Jr. Tomorrow is the holiday on which we (at least those of us who aren't racist) celebrate the life, values and accomplishments of Dr. King. One of the pleasant surprises I had when learning more about Dr. King's life and values is the discovery that much of his vision supports environmental justice. I was growing up at the time that the civil rights movement was providing strategies, tactics and values that were later adopted by the environmental movement. Of his quotations at the preceding link, the one that most resonates with me these days is this one:
"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, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

Water Is Life, ask Flint
Water Is Life, ask Flint
Photo by J. Harrington

Think about it, please. These days we can substitute, pretty much across the board, renewable energy for fossil fuels, yet we persist, in the name of profit, in endangering our water, for which there is no substitute, by permitting pipelines and oil trains to be built and operated with insufficient safeguards. That demonstrates not only an unsustainable, shortsighted disdain and disregard for "Nature" but a similarly unjust attitude toward our fellow human beings.

Dr. King's assassination occurred during the 1968 presidential race. One of the Democratic candidates, Robert F. Kennedy, delivered a eulogy for Dr. King the night of the assassination. Here's an excerpt:
"What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

"So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King -- yeah, it's true -- but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love -- a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

"We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We've had difficult times in the past, but we -- and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it's not the end of disorder.

"But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land."

At the moment, I have little hope that enough Republicans would walk this talk to make a difference. I still can hope that enough Democrats will remember the examples set by the Kennedys, Kings, Wellstones, and those like them, to make a positive difference each day until justice is served for all and the Earth is honored by all. It seems to me that's the least we can do for those who've given their lives setting examples for the rest of us to follow. It may help shorten the next four years and minimize the damage that can be done.


Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

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