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Mlk Jr. - As Prophetic Today As Ever


BrotherRog
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I realize that MLK wasn't perfect and had his share of failings. He wasn't a saint and was just as human as the rest of us. But unlike most of us, he had a keen ability to read things as they are, discern injustice, and speak truth to power. He also had an ability to emphasize the heart of the Christianity and to emphasize the priorities which Jesus likely would've emphasized had he lived in MLK's era.

 

With that in mind, I offer the following:

 

I think that Dr. Martin Luther King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech is wonderful, even though it is littled quoted. In honor of his upcoming holiday, and in response to the escalation message in Bush's recent speech, I thought I'd highlight it here.

 

Audio speech: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/v...instvietnam.mp3

Printed speech: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm

 

A few choice passages from the speech:

 

 

"I found myself in full accord when I read… 'A time comes when silence is betrayal.' That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam."

"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."

"I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent."

"And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries."

"Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces… Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores."

"Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition."

"At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor."

"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."

"The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war."

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood."

 

 

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Separately, following are some interesting parallels between LBJ's January 10 speech 40 years ago and GWB's from 2007, found at http://www.attytood.com/2007/01/eday_it_wa..._ago_today.html .

 

 

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in an attempt to prevent a larger war--a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror – and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: I wish I could report to you that the conflict is almost over. This I cannot do. We face more cost, more loss, and more agony. For the end is not yet. I cannot promise you that it will come this year--or come next year. Our adversary still believes, I think, tonight, that he can go on fighting longer than we can, and longer than we and our allies will be prepared to stand up and resist.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.

 

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: Our South Vietnamese allies are also being tested tonight. Because they must provide real security to the people living in the countryside. And this means reducing the terrorism and the armed attacks which kidnaped and killed 26,900 civilians in the last 32 months, to levels where they can be successfully controlled by the regular South Vietnamese security forces. It means bringing to the villagers an effective civilian government that they can respect, and that they can rely upon and that they can participate in, and that they can have a personal stake in. We hope that government is now beginning to emerge.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: This forward movement is rooted in the ambitions and the interests of Asian nations themselves. It was precisely this movement that we hoped to accelerate when I spoke at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore in April 1965, and I pledged "a much more massive effort to improve the life of man" in that part of the world, in the hope that we could take some of the funds that we were spending on bullets and bombs and spend it on schools and production.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in an attempt to prevent a larger war--a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later.

GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time…In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy – by advancing liberty across a troubled region.

 

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Finally, I would love it if I could post a "then and now" between Dr. King and his modern-day counterpart. Unfortunately, I know of no one comparable in our generation. Though Jim Wallis of the Sojourner's community may come close.

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I think everyone should look at this website before Martin Luther King's birthday, and just observe what you experience inside your body, heart and mind as you go through it.

 

http://www.remembersegregation.org

 

With hope that we may someday see the beautiful rainbow that we all are...

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  • 2 months later...

I have a poster with his "I have a dream" speech hanging in my first grade classroom. He is one of my "heroes." It is not that I think he was perfect, it is somehow that I suspect he was very human. I would like to have a poster of Coretta Scott King who is even more of hero to me as she refused to be silenced by those around her as she spoke up for Civil Rights for members of the GLBT community. She reminded them that gay and lesbian people walked openly with African-Americans in the marches and boycotts during the 60's. I look forward to the day when I can read books to my students like "And Tango Makes Three" and "King and King." I know it will happen but still wait impatiently. I feel for the students in my classes (present and future) who will have to deal with these issues in the future. I hope by the time they are adults (they are 6 and 7 now) the discrimination will be part of history books.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I have a poster with his "I have a dream" speech hanging in my first grade classroom. He is one of my "heroes."

 

Having heroes is incredibly important. Your heroes help remind you who you are and why you're here.

 

I challenge readers of the TCPC site to start a thread on the topic of heroes, or to keep BrotherRog's thread going. Who are your heroes, and why? Inspiration is like a good scotch. It gets better with age, and better with a group of good friends.

 

Pass the Macallans, and a glass of good cheer.

 

Amen. Love Jesus

April 30, 2007

Edited by canajan, eh?
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I was able to go to two speeches by Leonard Pitts, Jr. Saturday. He motivated me to be myself and make this world a better place. He mentioned MLK at least 20 times in his speeches and I am very proud to have been able to here this gentleman in person. Check out his book or his columns. After hearing Mr. Pitts Saturday he has earned my respect. Sincerely Bob VE

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I was able to go to two speeches by Leonard Pitts, Jr. Saturday. He motivated me to be myself and make this world a better place.

 

Hi Bob,

 

I was wondering if you could tell us a bit more about Mr. Pitts. I haven't come across his name. Who is he? What's his story? How does he envision making the world a better place? I'd be interested in learning more. Thanks in advance.

 

Love Jen

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That is difficult for me to say. However, a little about Mr Pitts. Hwas a pop music critic for 19 years before he began writing a syndicated column of commentary of pop culture, social issues and family life for 200 newspapers around the country. He wrote a book "Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood".

 

Since I am a member of a fundamental church in search of more Progressive theology, Leanord really spoke to me in his talks. Leonard is a Progressive Christian who speaks the "gospel" of peace and justice in every thing that he says. He told me in his two hour speech that anger is a corrosive thing and so is quilt. In his speech on Black history in America he told me that if you don't learn from history you repeat it. He said that justice to long delayed is justice denied. He recommended to me to invest myself into the lives of people that are not like me. He had a certain passion for the marginalized and oppressed and his speech motivated us all to bring hope to those Jesus calls the least of our sisters and brother. In the Q and A time he pointed out that No one can do everything but everyone can do something.

 

For me, bottom line, Leonard Pitts Jr. the son of an abusive alcoholic father and a strong mother is his own man who is a Progressive Christian who preaches the progressive gospel at all times without really specifically talking about it. Some of his columns can be accessed on www.leonardpittsjr.com thanks bob ve

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That is difficult for me to say. However, a little about Mr Pitts. Hwas a pop music critic for 19 years before he began writing a syndicated column of commentary of pop culture, social issues and family life for 200 newspapers around the country. He wrote a book "Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood".

 

Since I am a member of a fundamental church in search of more Progressive theology, Leanord really spoke to me in his talks. Leonard is a Progressive Christian who speaks the "gospel" of peace and justice in every thing that he says. He told me in his two hour speech that anger is a corrosive thing and so is quilt. In his speech on Black history in America he told me that if you don't learn from history you repeat it. He said that justice to long delayed is justice denied. He recommended to me to invest myself into the lives of people that are not like me. He had a certain passion for the marginalized and oppressed and his speech motivated us all to bring hope to those Jesus calls the least of our sisters and brother. In the Q and A time he pointed out that No one can do everything but everyone can do something.

 

For me, bottom line, Leonard Pitts Jr. the son of an abusive alcoholic father and a strong mother is his own man who is a Progressive Christian who preaches the progressive gospel at all times without really specifically talking about it. Some of his columns can be accessed on www.leonardpittsjr.com thanks bob ve

 

Thanks very much, Bob. Mr. Pitts is, from the sound of it, a man who has walked a difficult path and learned compassion for others. It's difficult at times to reconcile justice with peace. A person who chooses peace at all times may inadvertently cause justice to be delayed for so long that justice is denied. On the other hand, justice without forgiveness never brings peace. Justice without forgiveness brings the calm before the storm of anger. May you find both justice and peace on your journey, Bob.

 

Blessings, Jen

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