Monday, January 27, 2003

Dr. Martin Luther King's
Anti-Holiday/Pro-Work Message

Everyone who was anyone attended the Martin Luther King Day Gala held at a five star Washington hotel. Guests in their formal finest enjoyed sumptuous cuisine as the orchestra played Duke and Basie. Backslaps abounded from one end of the ornate ballroom to the other. A phalanx of dignitaries spoke of the greatness of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech with a mixture of solemnity and humor. Suddenly, at the stroke of midnight, a thin shaft of milky luminescence appeared to the right of the dais, as if a window was opened in the ceiling to let in the sunlight. The eerie beam broadened and brightened to great intensity. Then, the speakers fell away from the stage in terror and the hall filled with shrieks of fear.

The shaft morphed into a roiling cloud of liquid light filled with muscular bands of stars. The ethereal spectacle transfixed the audience and instantly removed the unease. Each heart was filled with an overwhelming sense of well-being. And the walls began to echo with a joyous, jubilant noise. A distant rumbling was sweetened with angelic trumpets as a glowing specter descended slowly upon the pearly bridge.

The apparition gathered human form and familiar features. The audience gasped in amazement as the unearthly visitor stepped out of the light and over to the microphone. Frantic whispers flew through the room: "It's Dr. King! It's Dr. King!" The whispers reached a wild crescendo, then disappeared in a flash. The rapt attention in the air was exquisitely intense.

Dr. King greeted each person as he scanned the crowd. Somehow he spoke to everyone without uttering a word. His face was beatific with blissful, eternal peace. He collected his thoughts and heaved a great, sorrowful sigh. Then, with one of the most unforgettable voices in human history, he addressed those present with these words:

"Good evening, my brothers and sisters in the struggle for peace and justice.

While I'm deeply humbled by this festive celebration of my birthday, I come before you tonight to share my reasons why I'm against Martin Luther King Day and my thoughts on other important issues. I'm painfully aware of the serious problems besetting modern America. I see the rampant inequality, the environmental degradation, the millions without health care and the unprecedented corporate greed. I see the hopelessness and homelessness everywhere. I see the failing schools, the impotent politicians and the corrupt clergy who fail to soothe the legions of angry, anguished souls. These aren't subjects for revelry. Quite the contrary, my friends, these are clarion calls for urgent action.

Many have been sacrificed for the cause of a better America. No individual contribution is more important than the others. It's in this spirit I suggest future holidays be dedicated to their cumulative memory. A new name, such as Drum Majors For Justice Day, would appear to be more appropriate.

I recommend the day be spent organizing others, rather than on lazy, leisure pursuits. An idle mind is, indeed, the devil's work shop. It's better to participate in something productive instead of wasting the hours away. A dynamic Global Village will emerge when everyone has at least a chance to contribute to its formation.

I will now address the matter of my greatest concern which compelled me to join you this evening. I speak of the horrific sound of war drums. That evil beat has a tendency to travel far and wide. And it never fails to strike terror into the hearts of those who may be subjected to its savagery.

What troubles me most isn't the invocation of war and martial law. There are occasions when no other solution suffices after all peaceful efforts fail. Humanity may pursue war as a last resort only when it's been morally and legally justified. However, present circumstances don't seem sufficient to certify a war declaration.

There are many who believe terrorism is equivalent to communism. There's no evidence to support this conclusion. In fact, this is a clear case of mixing apples with artichokes. Communism is a state established ideology. Its leaders are empowered to act on behalf of a federated people. And they command the economic, political and military resources of a nation. Conversely, terrorism is the hopeless reaction of a powerless people. Terrorists don't strap sticks of dynamite around their waists and commit suicide in a day care center because they dislike children. These sad souls do these cruel deeds because they're sick and tired of being sick and tired. This fact never sanctions their violence against innocent civilians. However, terrorism always rises after human beings are subjected to humiliating conditions for decades or even centuries. Communism is the political system of the rulers and terrorism is the tragic reaction of the ruled. This is the lone logical comparison which can be made between the two.

Some say terrorists should be eliminated because they're gaining access to weapons of mass destruction. Since terrorists don't possess national resources, it's clear they obtain WMDs only when a state sells these weapons to them. This point pertains even in the case of state sponsored terrorism because most small nations don't have the technology to make WMD weapons themselves. It seems a large part of the answer to terrorism is for advanced nations to stop selling weapons of mass murder to the poor. More important, nations should halt the making of WMD weapons altogether and promptly destroy their remaining stockpiles. After the 1990 Iraq war, the five permanent members to the UN security council (US, Russia, China, England and France) sold more than 90% of the weapons flowing into the Middle East. Who can demonstrate these wicked transactions are in anyone's best interests?

The cause of terrorism is the long term, brutal immiseration of the poor. Therefore, the answer to terrorism is very simple: feed the hungry; clothe the naked; house the homeless; heal the sick and educate the ignorant. The future of the human race will be secured only through kindness, not killing.

The president says he's a born again Christian. This suggests he was once a believer who lost his faith along life's highway, then rediscovered it in his later years. Further, this suggests the lessons of life taught him the importance of spiritual values. If this is so, he should understand his faith requires he present a moral and legal justification for his war against Iraq.

As matters stand, the war on terrorism appears to be nothing more than another war on the poor and powerless. No one notices the sharp surge in terrorism is in inverse proportion to the steep drop in US foreign aid and other vital programs for the poverty stricken. The US devoted decades to castigating the UN instead of helping fulfill its charter for building global peace. The US fomented discord through various illegal and immoral CIA operations. And the US compiled a long rap sheet (second to none) of crimes against humanity. These are just some of the reasons why the US is universally despised.

I said it before and I regret having to say it again the United States is still the greatest purveyor of violence in the world and something must be done about it. The peacemakers among us have never been in more immediate demand. Let's never forget a better world is possible when we pledge our assistance to change it and truly believe in the powers of faith, hope, love and forgiveness.

Good evening, my friends, and may the God of our forefathers bless and keep you all."

Everyone stood in silence as the vision of Dr. King slowly left the dais and approached the roiling cloud of white light.
Before he stepped into the shimmering thunderhead, he raised his right hand to bid farewell and said: "I will be with you always, even unto the end of time." Then, he was gone.

Dr. King was more than a leader and champion. This special man was America's greatest entrant to Paradise's pantheon of superheroes and saints. Of course, he would respectfully disagree. However, his extraordinary life should inspire us to redouble our efforts for peace. We must work harder to fulfill his majestic dream. His words are emblazoned on our hearts with the holy blood of his martyrdom. Dr. King's dream belongs to everyone. And the time has come for us to fulfill its glorious promise.

N.B. This writing was a labor of love and inspiration in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on his birthday.

Franklin L. Johnson


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