Monday, January 17, 2011

Land of the Free(ish)

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is the day our country celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. and as I sit around eating pancakes with my family (Papa makes delicious pancakes!), I find myself thinking about the man who told the world of his dreams.  I admire him.  Its hard not to.  What he did in America, for America, was amazing.  But what is even more amazing to me is how relevant so much of his message is STILL.

"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."  ~ MLK

While we can choose on this day to read (or listen to) some of his words and take  them at face-value, feeling smug and proud that some of his dreams have come true, it would be failing his memory and our country if we fail to acknowledge that so much of what Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for has failed to come to fruition.

Racism, hatred, discrimination are still very much alive and well.  A black man may now drink from the same fountain as a white man, or sit next to a white man on a bus.  But Americans everywhere are loosing freedoms First1, Fourth 2, Fifth 3, Sixth4, Eighth5 and Fourteenth 6 Amendment rights are increasingly sacrificed in the name of anti-terrorism.

Homosexual, Trans-gender, and Bisexual Americans are discriminated against everywhere, every day.

Arabs and Muslims are profiled, held and deported with no or little cause; they suffer the effects of racism continuously; even from our government. 

"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."   ~ MLK

The education our youngest citizens receive fails them more each minute as programs are cut, teachers are restricted, and fear, hate and ignorance over-power the ideas of intelligence and character.

"Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him." ~MLK

And the idea of nonviolence, of loving our fellow human beings, has been replaced with fear.  Good people continue to remain quiet in the face of injustice, and ignorance is still very much alive.

So, today, I choose to speak out against injustice, violence, hatred and fear.  Because that check promised to us by our Founding Fathers is still marked insufficient funds. Because the dream did not, and should not, die with the man.  Because America should be the land of the free; not the land of the free-ish.

1. First Amendment: Gives citizens the rights of free speech, peaceable assembly, and freedom of religion.
2. Fourth Amendment:  Protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure
3. Fifth Amendment: Says we shall not be "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" and protects citizens from being held without charge
4.  Sixth Amendment: Provides the right to a speedy and public trial, the right to know the nature of accusations against him/her, the right to be confronted with any witnesses, and the right to defense.  
5.  Eighth Amendment: Protects us from excessive, bail and fines.  And protects us from cruel and unusual punishments. 
6.  Fourteenth Amendment:  Interpreted as protecting the rights of all citizens providing equal protection to minority citizens. 

**The transcript and video of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream speech, delivered August 28th, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC can be found here.

** A thoughtful account of the rights and freedoms being infringed upon can be found here.


1 comment:

Amie said...

Thank you! And thank you for visiting us. Its not usually this quiet around here... hope you'll come back by and visit another time :)


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