King Holiday 2012: Dreaming of a World That Wasn’t Robbed of Dr. King
By Region 8 Webmaster and LUPA Advisory Council Chair John Davis
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 83 years on January 15, 2012. However, his life was cut short by an assassins’ bullet. It is not unreasonable to think that had it not been for the fateful day in Memphis in 1968, he may still be with us.
One has to wonder where Dr. King would lend his knowledge and leadership today. Imagine the influence he could have had on the events of the past few years. No single person has been successful in taking up where Dr. King left off when it comes to advocating for the working class. I firmly believe Dr. King could have been a voice of reason in a time of confusion.
Time and time again our nation’s focus has been drawn away from the issue of the day by the smoke screen of the conservative media. Dr. King had a knack for keeping the conversation on topic and it is reasonable to assume that his influence would have negated much of the lies, hate and misinformation spread through some of the 24 hour news cycles.
Less than a week before he died, Dr. King stated “This is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.” This statement is 44 year old but just as pertinent today. According the Economic Policy Institutes 2010 report “The State of Working Americans” from between 2000 and 2010, median income for working-age households fell from $61,574 to $55,276, a decline of roughly $6,300, which is more than 10 percent.
This equates to significant changes to the poverty level. From 1989 to 2000, overall poverty in this country declined by 1.5% and child poverty declined 3.5%. However, from 2000-2010 overall poverty rates climbed by 3.8% and child poverty climbed 5.8%. The gains from the 1990s were erased during the turn of the century and economic policies that heavily favored the rich. The result has been an economy that has been stagnant and the middle class eroding. Again, 44 years ago Dr. King warned against growing disparity of wealth and his predictions ring true today.
What if Dr. King had been there during the Bush years to lead the discussion? Would Rush Limbaugh, Hannity and O’Riley been able to brain wash such a large section of the population? Dr. King was able to survive an all out assault by J. Edgar Hoover, one of the most powerful men in America. I feel certain he would have held his own against the talking heads of the conservative media. In the process I think he would have negated much of the damage these men have done to America.
I believe today Dr. King would march with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. I think he would have opposed tax cuts for the wealthy due to the detriment of the working class. I think he would have campaigned for a fair health care system that is open for all.
The faith based organizations of this country have by and large been hijacked by those of power and position. They have been successful in clouding the teachings of benevolence and love for your fellow man. I think Dr. King could have prevented much of the confusion that those of faith seem to suffer from. Dr. King stated “A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man’s social conditions. Religion deals with both earth and heaven, both time and eternity. Religion operates not only a vertical plane but also on the horizontal…Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.” Can you imagine the impact he could have had on these seemingly good people who have hardened their hearts to their fellow man?
Finally, one of the greatest obstacles facing this country is the Tea Party Movement. Many misguided people have fallen in line behind this group that is the pet project of the Koch Brothers, two of the wealthiest men in the country. The entire premise of the Tea Party is “I got mine.” Actually, the Koch Brothers have theirs and everyone else’s as well. They are above the 1% at some where north of $44 billion. Dr. King had words for these folks over 44 years before their rise to power.” An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity,” Dr. King stated.
Yes on this anniversary of Dr. King’s birth, we can dream about the things this great man could have accomplished if he had not had his life stolen away. The loss was to our country, our people and our humanity. On this anniversary, may we take the lesson’s Dr. King taught us and use them to build a better country. His words are just as pertinent today as they were over 44 years ago.