Thursday, January 22, 2009

Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Blogging

This MLK Jr./Obama weekend was so good. People everywhere just feeling the beauty and freedom of the ideas that Martin espoused. Reading Martin Luther King, Jr., A Profile, edited by C. Eric Lincoln. Reading from the text of MLK's own speeches and writings from A Testament of Hope. Hearing San Diego's own Martin Luther King Choir. The assurance and grace that Obama is showing as our new president. Surely this has been a great coming-together of hope, peace and love for like-minded individuals across this fair land and indeed the world. We would not have another Republican president to follow the sadistic presidency of George W. Bush. But far greater than just that is the faith that we can place in Obama to turn to the monumental task of rebuilding our world and restoring the prestige and admiration of the peoples of the world to the United States of America. There is no better man qualified for the job. The democratic party has a new leader. God has indeed blessed the U.S.A.

The damage done by the Bush presidency has exceeded in reality the most dire predictions held deeply inside the minds of Bush's most ardent critics. Most of us predicted instability, insurrection and violence in Iraq, but few could have predicted the unprecedented level and persistence of violence. Most of us predicted an interruption in infrastructure and services, but no one could have predicted the dismal performances of U.S. military and contractors in providing these services. I guess the contractors were mostly concerned with covering their own asses. We all knew that American service personnel in Iraq would die, but we didn't guess the number would exceed 4,321. We could never have seen that the U.S. military would send so many innocent Iraqis to their death, or imprison and torture their finest young men. These are nightmare scenarios that can only come from the reality of the undiluted evil that was the flagship of the Bush presidency. And who among us can judge the number of dead, wounded and displaced that is acceptable as a trade-off for the gains that we have seen in Iraq. Personally, I don't see them. But we never had the right to tell the Iraqi people that this was the price which they must pay for freedom.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s thoughts on the Viet Nam war are as relevant today as they were 42 years ago. I highly recommend watching the video "Martin Luther King Jr., a Man of Peace in a Time of War." When others wrestled with their consciences about their support for the Viet Nam war, his voice came as loud and clear as thunder.

In our collective lives, our sin rises to even greater heights. See how we treat each other. Races trample over races; nations trample over nations. We go to war and destroy the values and the lives that God has given us. We leave the battlefields of the world painted with blood, and we end up with wars that burden us with national debts higher than mountains of gold, filling our nations with orphans and widows, sending thousands of men home psychologically deranged and physically handicapped... This is the tragic plight of man... So long as he lives on the lower level he will be frustrated, disillusioned and bewildered... Western civilization, like the prodigal son, has strayed away to the far country of segregation and discrimination. You have trampled over sixteen million of your brothers... In the midst of all your material wealth, you are spiritually and morally poverty-stricken, unable to speak to the conscience of this world.

So let us all give a hearty thanks to not only MLK, but to all those who came before him, all those who worked tirelessly with him, all those who put their own lives, safety and security on the line in Montgomery, Birmingham, Selma and Memphis and across this world from Ghana and South Africa to Poland and Germany. We do not live in a perfect world. But I live in a country where citizens of all colors, religions and persuasions have equal access to education, employment, housing and civil liberties. I live in a state peopled by all races of the world, which will one day soon no longer have a majority of European whites. It will still be the great state of California. Nothing can diminish that. And when one of our brothers or sisters gives in to the temptation to embrace racism, prejudice or hatred, it is that citizen who is to be pitied.

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