Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It Matters

"What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can't afford to buy a hamburger?" 
Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this day in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had gone in support of striking sanitation workers.  Suddenly, it was all about class, it was all economics, it was the end game.  Just as suddenly, it was over. 

Wealth had won, and its power would not soon be challenged again.  The great organizer and leader, the man who had proven a broad based people's movement could take on, take down and take out social injustice, no matter how hardened and strong, through the much greater strength of moral conscience, had been felled by the only weapon a ruling elite finally has for its own otherwise unsustainable maintenance: raw violence.  Whether the actual deed was done by some lone wolf nut case or not, the ultimate winner was the top sliver of concentrated and abusive economic power, in an egregiously unjust and imbalanced social order. 

But there is an even greater violence.  It is the pounding and punishment the poor and average working people have taken ever since.  The poor have been so marginalized they no longer have any semblance of political identity, awareness, or effective action.  And it has become nearly impossible for average workers, union or not, to secure a middle class existence for themselves and their families.  Middle class itself seems to be a term entering into some weird and pitiful stage of nonviable economic life support.  This will not get better if left alone.  The body politic is not self-healing.  Revival has be undertaken with intention.

And what you do, or choose not to do, matters.

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