Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And other social media DOHs.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And other social media DOHs.

by Stan Faryna

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.


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


If you think that this blog post sucks, let me know in your comment and don’t forget to include a link to YOUR favorite blog post.

If you think this blog post rocks, tell me why it rocks in the comment. “Awesome,””Great post,” etc. works for me. Don’t forget to include a link to YOUR most recent blog post.

Stan Faryna
16 January 2012
Bucharest, Romania


No fairies were harmed during the writing and publishing of this blog post.


17 Responses to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And other social media DOHs.

  1. Betsy Cross says:

    Out of the park, Stan! Thanks for posting the speech and giving me a chance to remember and to reflect on my values as a citizen of this great country, and more importantly as a human being.

    Love the “Note”! Makes me contemplate my responsibilities in this year’s election.

    Happy MLK DAY!

  2. Stan Faryna says:


    That’s another important question that we don’t ask often enough. What does citizenship mean? What are our responsibilities? What is our duty to each other and the American experiment?

    Thanks for reminding me, Bets.

  3. Hello Stan.
    I read this, and I will consider first then come back and write something…O.K.?

  4. Blogs are supposed to provide insight into an issue from the perspective of an individual. We do not have to agree, endorse, or berate. But, hopefully, a blog can make us think about something in a way we have not done before. We can understand the perspective different than ours. And perhaps we can learn a thing or two about ourselves. For this reason, your blog post was very good. Best, Adam

  5. Stan Faryna says:

    Adam, I very much enjoyed your blog post about getting the juggling act right. You speak to the heart and just as certainly, I do believe, that the human heart can confirm wisdom and joy.

    And if I presume to understand one of your own misgivings, I am ready to admit that Americans, black, white, and otherwise have mutually failed to assure together a beautiful conclusion to the pain, confusion, and sorrow that comes of prejudice.

    But we can and shall hope for better things – if our hope is righteous.

  6. saulman says:

    I love the comparison of us bloggers to MLK, in our strong and also weak attempts to earn our stand at the podium offered by running a blog. One of your best, Stan, IMHO. I am sharing the hell out of this!

  7. Stan,
    I feel all alone without wondering if I’ll run into you (today), and wondering what you will say that will fry some circuits or just drive them to max overload. (missing you)

    Martin Luther King, The “I Have A Dream” speech has ALWAYS moved me. So has Patric Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”. Both are meant to be read (out loud) or listened to …intensely with all your senses open. They both give me chills.

    I am not nearly well read, enough, but those are my favorite two. Papa always gripes because, hey, the banks and businesses are closed! But he, you, believe America (more than others), really our entire world is heading for the darkest night of all…

    I suppose, I do… sorta. I believed this much stronger before spending the last year surrounded by such giving, compassionate, caring humans. Now? I have never thought we were without Him, but now I KNOW there is just too much good and right out there, here, in our world, Stan… He is with us, every day, with every thought, with every action we take or react to. He sees them all.

    We just need and have to Stay the Path.

  8. Great post, Stan! We were somewhat surprised to see how under-the-radar MLK Day was in the blogosphere yesterday but, for what it’s worth, we took a moment to observe the day’s significance and the great civic leader’s influence with a post of our own:

    It’s funny that you mentioned OWS, because I was thinking of that movement as I was reading through Dr. King’s quotes on effecting social change. 45 years later, his wisdom seems entirely prescient, making me wonder when the majority of the 99% will wake up and recognize that slavery still exists today– it’s just been corporatized under the brand name “Capitalism” and packaged to look as harmless and All-American as possible.

    • Stan Faryna says:


      I enjoyed the MLK, Jr. quotations that you posted. I also enjoyed learning about your history in Atlanta.

      From your quotations, this quotation brought tears to my eyes and running down my cheeks. Not because I am a freak, but because there is a truth here so beautiful, good, and true that it strikes the heart of those who can see.

      “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”

      Thank you!

  9. Another great post, Stan! I always look forward to reading your posts because I know there will always be plenty of “food for thought.” Our political system currently has some serious flaws and, as I listen to the various candidates, I’m not sure any of them really “get it.” Thanks for a great blog!

  10. Hello Stan.
    This is a topic of very dividing feelings in America.
    I am a white Irishman who became a white American. I have lived in the North and also in the South.
    The prejudices are different in each location, the deep seated and long held beliefs unchanged in many ways before, during and after this speech.
    It is a good speech, it was needed and a Nation faced down some of its demons politically and socially, but not necessarily morally. America is still a racially divided place. That comes from both sets of Americans involved, Black and White.
    The White American enjoys the dominant position in every regard and will not likely ever give that up.
    The Black American understands this and acts accordingly.
    Resentment over current social slights, and political disenchantment from both groups fuels more issues than it ever will solve.
    The central issue for me is this:
    Since the Speech how have the people behaved with the movement to advance the ideals of the speech: both Black and White!
    Sadly, it is more rhetoric than reality that takes place.
    White people for the most part are afraid of Black people, and Black people for the most part are resentful of White people. The media and the well documented wrongs by both peoples in individual and other cases will always generate the ire of both communities.
    Our Government is no better, using the issues of both parties to generate votes and the like.
    In response to your Question: ‘What is the sound of freedom’s ring?’
    I don’t believe any living American knows that sound. Certainly not in the context of the original proclaimation.
    The Martin Luther King Holiday does not represent any ringing freedoms for Black or White people. However, this is still the freest place on earth, and any individual who wants too, can challenge the shibboleths of this Nation and work for the freedoms that are on the table, but the tribes are settled upon their injustices, prejudices and social barriers.
    It’s too late to change heart, and too long since anyone really tried.

    Finally, I am an American by choice. Being born in Ireland I know something of tensions between peoples. The English and the Irish have a history that blood was used as ink to tell the tales. I look behind my shoulder and across the ‘pond’ and do not relish the idea of going back there. Ever….
    I live in this divided land; and still I have Black and White friends that are the morter in my social world. I also have enemies from both sides because of my realist views.
    All the best Stan.

    • Stan Faryna says:

      I appreciate your comment – you’ve given me something to think about. As a former card-carrying black conservative [grin], I have some hope that things can be worked out in time. But, perhaps, not everywhere and, perhaps, never to my complete satisfaction.

      I was the chief editor on a book that hoped to facilitate the working-it-out. It’s used as a text book by some colleges and universities. And it’s available at Amazon – if you’re curious.

      You always speak from your honest experience and compassion, Billy. It’s one of the things that I admire about your writing.

  11. capital expenditure…

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