King's 'revolution of values' still needed
Todd Steven Burroughs
January 22, 2013
It’s once again the national observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King, and while a wartime President is being sworn in, the United States is searching to find itself in the year 2013. Americans are asking about the effectiveness of the threat of violence to stave off violence, domestically and internationally. Some are asking if guns can kill people and protect people at the same time.
Martin Luther King found answers to these questions. He was so clear about nonviolence; he made his circle around him and colored it in blood. He would not turn away from it because he knew that nonviolence allowed humanity to confront itself, to eventually see and listen to itself before beginning the process of healing.
The Civil Rights Movement activists used a simple formula: Education (on the issue), (spiritual) purification and direct confrontation. It got some of them killed, but it got all of them heard. No price was too high to implement the strategy, because a new community was the outcome.
King’s movement for racial equality and peace continues today beyond our borders and among countless communities striving for change.
Malala Yousafzai, who is fighting for the rights of girls to go to school in Pakistan, has now been heard. She was a blogger. She wanted to agitate and educate. She was shot in the head last October, but the shot has ricocheted all over her nation. Pakistani women have taken to the streets, demanding change and dialogue. They don’t have guns. Like Yousafzai, they only have their bodies andtheir words.
I can hear King speaking to those like her saying: “These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wombs of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before.”
Despite her injuries, Yousafzai continues, using education and dialogue, to create a future for herself in her nation. It’s her only choice.
King said what was needed was “a true revolution of values.” And decades before the Internet, when all phones were quite dumb, he said, “When machines and computers, profit and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
King words still speak to us. His words are reflected in the work of Everyday Democracy and their commitment to racial justice. By helping communities see the importance of including a racial equity lens as a part of their work, Everyday Democracy continues King’s legacy and call for change.
In opposition to the war in Vietnam, King drew a parallel between a foreign policy overly dependent on violence and the violence in our communities at home.
“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies… The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just,” King said.
The essence of creating positive change is realization that people from all backgrounds and cultures are integral omponents in making democracy work. By learning how to listen, we learn how to go forward without leaving anyone behind.
It’s the first step toward the equity we seek, and will obtain. King’s beloved community will come one brave dialogue and one courageous action at a time.
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