Monday, January 17, 2011

Are we the new white moderate?


Each year MLK Jr. Day gives us the opportunity to be thankful for his life's example and the peaceful principles he used and taught to protest racial injustice. It's given me a chance to talk to my kids about MLK's message and how we're still affected by his life and work today.

In reviewing his letters and speeches today, I have to wonder if Americans in general have become so weathered and burned out with our political systems because they've made us feel as though we can seldom affect change at higher levels.

It seems as though we're tired of asking our leaders to do what's right as so many people around us become jobless and sink deeper into debt while we continue to bail out spend-happy corporations. Do we prefer the absence of tension and the path of least resistance?

These days, are we more aligned with MLK's description of the bewildering white moderate who absently cheered him from the sidelines? Instead of taking the necessary action (and risk) to repair the things that we strongly oppose, do we just choose to live with them? Some thoughts worth chewing on, anyway.

Excerpt from MLK Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

"The Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom"

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