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For Dr.King, we can all do better

HERB BOYD Special to AmNews | 6/20/2013, 11 a.m.
Same old, same old, 50 years later

Forty-five years ago, on April 4, 1968, a date that will live in infamy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was brutally taken from us. He was a fervent, committed apostle of peace, and as we reflect on his incomparable legacy, the question arises: what he would think of today's problems?

There are fundamental precepts of his philosophy that are incontrovertible, that no matter what time, place or issue, it is easy to predict how he would feel because America has not changed that dramatically since he walked among us.

We needn't speculate on how the "Drum Major for Justice and Peace" would feel about the epidemic of violence that has made many neighborhoods in our country veritable battlegrounds, almost daily taking a young life from us in pointless gunfire. He maintained a consistent position of nonviolence, pleadingly calling for the creation of a "Beloved Community," where brothers and sisters could live together in peace and harmony.

Given this outlook, Dr. King would be appalled by the continuing warfare abroad and he would probably be among those activists calling for the end of the drone attacks that far too often have resulted in meaningless collateral damage: the senseless murder of innocent women and children.

He would be outraged, as he was when he voiced his protest against the war in Vietnam, about the U.S. military drone program and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which provides for the unlawful violation of individual liberties, and he would take strong exception to the Patriot Act that gives the government sweeping authority to spy on individuals who have done nothing wrong and would possibly join the American Civil Liberties Union in its attempt to reform it.

On more than one occasion Dr. King spoke out for the homeless, the downtrodden, those without resolve against the menace of an American system still polluted with racism and discrimination. He would take to the streets and the pulpit for the powerless, demanding that the nation live up to that creed he spoke so passionately about that day in August in the nation's capital.

But it isn't so much that we should ponder what Dr. King would do about the trouble we face on so many vital fronts. The issue before us all is what are we prepared to do to give his legacy meaning and importance today?

We have just celebrated another Resurrection Sunday for another Man of peace, and it is folly for us the living to wait for His or Dr. King's return. And if they do miraculously appear, heaven only knows how they will contend with a menace that has grown to such a degree it would demand their combined powers to rectify.

Our time is at hand. We must do all we can to challenge today's evils, and when we take our stand on the ramparts to head off police brutality, to make our world a safer place to live, when we respect our elders, and embrace the defenseless, we will have made a major step in honoring a man who laid down his life, who took a bullet for his beliefs, who stands as a testament to the possibility that we can all do better, if we only try.