Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 11, 2000
King's legacy there for the courageous
"When machines, profit motive and property rights are considered more important than people, the great triplets of fascism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered." wrote Martin Luther King in the 1960's. "A true evolution of values" he continued hopefully, "will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies."
Martin Luther King's legacy of peace and justice will be remembered in a spiritual teach-in conference on Feb 1 in Washington. King not only dared to tackle racist policies and domestic disparity, but hoped that a transformation of values would confront "the glaring contrast between wealth and poverty" maintained by an unjust global economy.
He denounced "Western arrogance" and our way of "settling differences through war, as unjust."
There have been many great Americans since who have felt compelled by love of country to criticize its harmful policies: Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day,
Cesar Chavez, the Berrigan brothers, Roy Bourgeois, Noam Chomsky, Thomas Merton and bishops Gumbleton and Hunthauser, to name but a few. All of them thoughtful, compassionate people who dedicated their lives to make this world more just.
This often meant they had to engage in civil disobedience and risk being jailed or rejected by the society they passionately strove to improve.
"Let me be quite succinct" wrote Merton in the '70s, "the greatest sin of the complex which we call the West is not only greed and cruelty, not only moral dishonesty and infidelity to truth, but above all its unmitigated arrogance towards the rest of the human race."
Ralph McGhee, who served 25 years in the CIA, was more specific when he wrote in the '80s: "By means of covert operations, the CIA has helped destroy democracy around the world and replaced popular governments with brutal, murderous, US controlled military dictatorships that kill and torture their own citizens.
"These operations are designed to benefit U.S. based multinational corporations that expropriate the national resources of target countries and hurt the indigenous peoples."
George Ball, undersecretary during the Kennedy-Johnson administration admitted: "We have gone into Third World countries and arranged, in one way or another, for more than a million people to be killed."
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General wrote the UN Security Council in 1996: "There is one crime against humanity in this last decade of the millennium that exceeds all others in its magnitude, cruelty and portent. It is the U.S. forced sanctions against the 20 million people of Iraq. More than 1 million people have died, mostly the elderly, the ill, children and infants."
In 1998, Gumbleton wrote: "Real moral leadership cries out to denounce such gross evil and violence. So far, as a body, U.S. religious leaders have been sinfully silent and have provided no specific moral guidance for the U.S. community and its political leaders."
Cardinal Etchegary concurred: "It is not enough to say the Church is for peace. She must, with every fiber of her daily existence, perform works of justice and denounce both the mad arms race as well as the injustice of an economic weapon, when it only ends up wounding innocent children, especially children."
As Americans of good will struggle to bring about the evolution of values which King so hopefully announced 40 years ago, they point to a need for serious self-examination.
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