It is more than ironic that the national holiday to honor assassinated civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would come so closely to the recent and violent activities in Tucson. Tucson is the culmination of a society that preaches war and violence and refuses to look at how healing for the inner and the outer person could be administered humanely for all its citizens. Today, we face the reality of what was and is Tucson on a holiday that honors a man who spent his entire adult life speaking of non-violence and civil rights. (Civil rights includes a society that views health care as a right not a privilege and provides all of its citizens with access to treatment for physical and mental health issues. We can only wonder how Tucson may have been different if we lived in a society that viewed mental health on a par with physical health care and provided access to treatment for all.)
There will be many today who will speak of Dr. King’s life and his dreams for this nation. There have even been some who have said in the week preceding this holiday that Dr. King would have supported the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Really? A man who committed his entire life to non-violence and the final years of his life to protesting a U.S. war in Vietnam?
Perhaps the best way to remember Dr. King today is to remember some of his own words – words that no one can twist or change to fit their own use. A person’s words – what they speak – are the truest form of what they represented. In contrast to those today whose words define them and who talk about “don’t retreat…reload” or who call the first African-American president “racist” and who has a “deep seeded hatred of white people,” let’s pause for just a moment to remember Dr. King in his own words.
The following is from our newly released book Wisdom of Progressive Voices. Dr. King is one of 23 featured in the book.
“I think we have to look much deeper if we are to find the real cause of man’s problems and the real cause of the world’s ills today. If we are to really find it, I think we will have to look in the hearts and souls of men.”
“Somehow we must come to see that in this pluralistic, interrelated society we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And by working with determination and realizing that power must be shared, I think we can solve this problem, and may I say in conclusion that our goal is freedom and I believe that we’re going to get there.”
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”