Monday, January 18, 2010

Thinking About Dr. King in Today's Times

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”

People always talk about what Dr. King would say if he was here today and saw some of the things going on in the world. That’s a fun topic for this time of year when we celebrate his memory. I am certain he would be proud and ecstatic about all the advances his life’s word laid the foundation for. You can’t get any better evidence of that than Barack Obama being president. I think we would also have to explain how we let so many people continue to struggle at the bottom of the ladder. I know the violence in the community would have difficult to deal with. This is the biggest issue we have to deal with. Maybe he would say we are doing too much celebrating at the top when the folks at the bottom are struggling so much.

We can’t really know what he would think about today’s times because we have no idea what the world would have looked like if he was around another 30 years or so. I could imagine that he never gets into politics and runs for office and the community has someone not tied to any affiliation that compromises his ability to deal with things open and honestly. We probably would have handle education better. I don’t know if the crack epidemic spreads as wide as it did. We’ll never know. That’s what makes his holiday kind of somber when you think about it. There’s always the thought in my mind is that things could have been so much different had he been here.

Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 and to this day no one else is on that level of leadership. I think we have produced people capable but they either went into politics or to private sector to reap the benefits of opened doors. I am not criticizing them for it but it’s the truth. President Obama is not on that level yet. He’s the symbol of Dr. King’s work but we can put him up there with King once we see how things turn out in the next few years. The bigger challenge is the community at large. Dr. King made the speeches and made the case for equality but it was the everyday person that stopped riding the bus and marched behind him. Even if we had a leader like that it wouldn’t do us any good because he would always seem like he’s talking for himself. If Dr. King were here today it wouldn’t matter because the energy in the community is not the same. That’s something he would probably speak about for sure. He might wonder what happened to will of the community to make things better. I’m glad I don’t have to answer that question. I never did well with explaining bad news to elders.

1 comment:

G B said...

It is a somber thing to consider, and attempt to answer. I think the easy answer to what-happened? is that our talented 10% [or 20%] chose a different kind of success than what we admire in, and need from, folks like Dr. King. The reality is far more complex. I, too, am not about to presume that I am one to start or even contribute well to that answer. Thanks for the post, Cliff.