Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King's Birthday


One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow


The song above was written for MLK.

Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
From MLK speech, Beyond Vietnam, April 1967

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

4 comments:

tweetey30 said...

That is so sad. I have to say one thing. Jeff and I didnt know how to discuss this with Kora yesterday so we let it ride for now. I think I will look it up next year and get some more information on this subject.

Candy Minx said...

Well, Tweetey, I think you did the right thingby waiting to discuss it with a young child. I remember telling my daughter about the holocaust of the Second World War...and it was a depressing responsibility...and to see a kid get depressed...well it was not a tough job requirement. You will be able to tell if your child is old enough and how to give background information and just how many details to teach at once...when the time comes...these lessons need to be taught with the heroism and tempered with the positive changes... (and it doesn't have to be on the anniversary...you can choose the time)

Gardenia said...

Candy, wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you! I love all of Martin Luther King's speeches...I loved him. There is a bust of him downtown in the park to leave flowers and pay respect - I am glad.

It is important to tell children when at the right age about the holocaust - at the right age. Groups have tried to deny it ever happened - but we should all remember, it could happen to any of us as a people group.

When oldest grandson reached sixteen, we gave him a lot of reading and discussion on this subject.

I fear our country teeters on the edge when it cuts programs for the poor, for children, for school lunches, social security, medicaid........and others......

Candy Minx said...

Gardenia, interesting how MLK's speech resonates for what is happening today huh? My daughter was a little younger than 16 when I talked to her about genocide...partly because kids are exposed to more things these days I guess at a younger age often. I was about 11 when I learned about the WW2 era holocaust and I remember being so sick to my stomach and feeling so depressed...and then finding out about genocides throughout human times. It seemed like the most barbarian foreign concept of that kind of hate and killing. And then you learn...oh women weren't able to vote or have equal pay. Finding out these things coming of age and growing up is a real shock...I feel lucky that growing up women were already equal, gays were accepted, racism was against the law. Movies like Dog Day Afternoon, Roots...these were history...in the past. Then you find out later...that there are still people who think women, gays and skin color define "second class" or less...

...and we still put the working and unemployed poor at the bottom of the shit kicking list huh?