Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And other social media DOHs.
by Stan Faryna
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day) is an American celebration of the Christian civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr.
From a practical point of view, the holiday is a federal holiday which means government employees get the day off. It is not a celebration, however, in which all Americans participate equally. Neither in body, spirit, nor enthusiasm. Not like Thanksgiving. There are no common rituals. There is even a failure – gasp – among the A-, B-, C-list bloggers to hungerly contemplate the relevance of Freedom and Justice – the things that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke so passionately about.
So you say you want to make a better world? Really?!
Anyway, fluffing the day (MLK Day) is inappropriate – if you say that you are a proud and belligerent American. [grin]
Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have A Dream Speech
Let me confess that MLK Day always takes me by surprise. Every year! Nor am I ignorant or uninformed about Martin Luther King, Jr., his Dream, or his hopes. In fact, I am a fan of Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have even studied his thought more enthusiastically and dutifully than I have studied most other American heroes, thinkers, and writers.
Is racism relevant today?
Yet I must admit for all my light reading on Martin Luther King, Jr., I am no expert of his thought and life. I have read and listened to his Dream speech a dozen times. Or double that. And, yes, it inspires me. Every time! Because the problems that King addresses in his great speech remain problems today. Human problems. Freedom. Justice. Specifically, the lack thereof. In fact, the problems have become bigger.
Racism and prejudice, however, are not the great political problem that they were in the 1950s. Not in today’s America. Yes, prejudice will continue, it will continue to fuel pain, shame, hatred and heart break. Europe, however, needs a little enlightenment. Prejudice is surreal here. Some even mistake it for culture. And Asia – who knows if the enlightenment will ever get there.
Let us speak to Truth – not power. Nor resentiment a la Nietzsche. Because, in fact, the American people – black, white, and otherwise – are languishing, today. Just as King observed so many years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
It is a shameful condition which was dramatized by the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests. But OWS will not be the last drama in this scandalous affair.
The terrible line is not the line drawn between color in today’s America. It is the line that seperates the 1 percent and the 99 percent. And it is not a line, it is a barren dessert which few or no feet will cross.
At the same time, the sumptuous wealth, fortune, and satisfaction of the 1 percent are immediately obvious and transparent to the 99 percent.
Freedom and justice, however, is not in these signs that tempt us and lead us down the highways and byways of desperate envy.
Dream or Nightmare?
Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
Brotherhood, as it will turn out, will be found in our common humility, pain, poverty, despair, desparation, anger, and need.
OH GOD – NO!
The Dream will be a Nightmare!
There is no need for signs that state “For Rich Only”.
Where there are security guards, outrageous admissions, admissions boards, rolex watches, police in riot gear, or black ties and gowns, you will know them as signs. They all shout the same thing, “Keep out”.
Freedom, however, was never about fancy carriages, plantation estates, and extravagant lifestyles of champagne, caviar, and exotic travel destinations. Nor do they represent Justice.
In fact, pimped rides and $100,000+ cars, the MTV cribs and charming, provincial getaways, the stamped pages of passports, and all the mobile pics of exotic and adventurous holidays posted on Facebook are all – all the signs of injustice, slavery, and oppression.
And envy – to be completely honest.
Zen and the Art of Happiness
A zen master once asked his pupil the most profound question in his student’s journey to freedom:
What is the sound of one hand clapping?
Today, on MLK Day, I propose that we, Americans, ask ourselves, our fellow Americans, and, perhaps, GOD (if you believe in God)… this one, humble question- every year:
What is the sound of Freedom’s ring?
This is what I believe MLK would have wanted. In his own words:
Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
Let Freedom Ring!
Now is the time!
The dark night is upon America and the only light that can penetrate our fears, confusion, and despair is the light within each one of us – if we shine brightly. And we shall shine brightly only if we repent of the material obsessions and envy that enslave us to heartless, inhuman masters.
Tear up the check you want the politicians, the government, and the banks to cash. It’s a bad check. It always was. Demand Freedom, Justice, and Responsibility – not cash or hope for cash. Nor small change. Or promissory notes for social and economic change.
Demand Blessings! Demand Love! Demand Justice and Righteousness! And give thanks to God.
Like Michael Jackson sang it, don’t stop until you get enough.
We can never be satisfied with cash or checks, empty promises, and false leadership.
The U.S. Constitution is not a promissory note! MLK, Jr. misunderstood this matter. The U.S. Constitution is a binding agreement and duty upon all those who serve in political office. If they have failed that duty – it is the people who have failed to elect the right people for the job. And it is the responsibility, sole responsibility, of the American people to enforce such service, duty, and decision as required by the U.S. Constitution. And, perhaps, God.
Perhaps, that is the sound of Freedom’s ring. Perhaps. But keep on asking just the same…
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16 January 2012
No fairies were harmed during the writing and publishing of this blog post.