9/27/13 Blog Post Entry # 3
The film we watched on September 20th about Martin Luther King, Jr. had a strong impact on me. One of the things that I noted during the film was the Nobel Peace Prize speech he gave, and the short insert from Obama’s acceptance speech of the same award. I’ve since watched both speeches at the website, www.nobelprize.org. I was struck by the different tone of each man’s speech.
As a black man in the south during the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King saw the poverty and struggles of his people. As mentioned in the movie, Dr. King knew terror. His house was bombed; he was stabbed in Harlem; he was constantly under the threat of assassination. And yet, his faith shows in every word he says, every speech he gave, and everything he wrote. He knew that to create a future, you have to envision it and believe that it can come to pass. His guiding principle was, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” He was humble and committed to bringing change to the wrongs he saw around him.
Barack Obama said some disturbing things in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, that lead me to believe that he has not lived up to the teachings of the man that set the stage for him to be President of the United States. MLK mentioned that ‘pharaohs of empires are inside imperial space, not outside with the masses.’ Obama learned to fit in to white society, and become one of ‘them,’ to the extent that he does not have a reference point for struggle, but perhaps only for entitlement. In listening to his speech, it seems clear to me that he has done some reading in the realm of peace studies. He uses the term justpeace several times. He mentioned the phrases, ‘moral imagination’ and ‘moral compass.’ But he also stated his belief that “We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes.” He talked about the necessity of war and that “Evil does exist in the world.” I’ve always felt that evil is a very strong word, and I like to substitute the word, confusion. There is no pure evil and nothing that love will not eventually overcome. I know that Dr. King believed this, and lived the principles of love. I am not so sure President Obama has the faith necessary, or trust in the process of peacemaking.
I fall back on MLK’s answer to the war culture: “Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time. There is a strong need for man to overcome oppression and violence, without resorting to violence and oppression.” If only our current politicians could have the same faith in the potentials of change.
Another aspect of Dr. King's work was his bravery in calling attention to the materialism in our world. He spoke of moving from a 'thing' oriented society to a 'people' oriented society. The money spent on the Vietnam War destroyed the economic potential for programs that could have ended poverty and brought some economic balance to our culture. Although President Johnson founded "The Great Society" and the "War on Poverty," his inablilty to shift the militarism of the times stopped the forward progress of these ideals. In The Little Book of Strategic Peacebuilding Schirch brings out the structural violence of inequality in economics (pg 24). MLK dedicated his life to speaking for the poor, and it must have been frustrating to him to see the vast differences between the owning class and those who worked for the ones that thrive.