MLK
Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 17 2011 9:30 AM

MLK

It's a federal holiday and a Slate holiday, so I'm mostly going to be out. When the Obama administration came in two years ago and made MLK Day a semi-official "day of service," I didn't see nanny state-ism; I saw a pretty good idea. If you're working today, though, go ahead and take a break by reading beyond the "I Have a Dream Speech." His April 1967 speech against the Vietnam War is a nice starting place.

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.

We must rapidly begin...we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.  A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

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David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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