Martin Luther King Jr once responded to a letter that asked for his patience in the resolution to oppression, inequality and unjust laws enslaving colored folks in America. (And I saw coloured people as a reference to any non-Caucasian group). His response:
“Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
In agreement with MLK I note that the choice to act, abstain, speak or stay silent is our God-given right and frankly our duty.
In reflection of the achievements of MLK’s liberation movement we saw coloured american people gain some basic rights. Although racism and inequality are far from being abolished, many white people grew ashamed of their disgusting prejudice.
If our beloved MLK were to see where today’s society has gone, I have a feeling that his passion would be exponentially greater, for the cause is exponentially greater.
Today it’s not just the coloured people who are enslaved. It is now the Asians, Latin Americans, Europeans, Africans, Australians, Indians, Chinese and Canadians among all others. Today, injustice truly works without prejudice.
MLK, Malcom X, Gandhi and others. Were their actions in vain? God forbid.
The point is that our oppression outweighs that of the coloured folk in recent America. Where as they were hated, scorned and laughed at, they’re hands were clean. We on the other hand play both oppressor and oppressed.
Our generation, doesn’t feel steel handcuffs, but our minds are caged, trapped and suffocating.
We eat from the table of the poor and steal their cup to double our drink.
I learned today about conflict minerals and that are used to make today’s Smart Phones and how many lives are shed, women raped, children turned to soldiers as a direct result of our purchase. All while I type and send this email on my BlackBerry.
I feel that it is better to be oppressed than to be the oppressor, yet we oppress and hide behind ignorance and laughter. Our generation is full of vanity, foolishness, selfishness, greed, hate, deception, rowdiness, corruption, folly. The slave masters didn’t make us like this but they did suggest it and we jumped right on it. We will not unite against them because we love our vanity.
The truth is that the world has united in hate. As people, we are all-together bad.
Forgive my pessimism. I do believe there is hope. As I write this, there is a guitarist and a violinist playing the instrumentals to a beautiful song in the underground in the middle of the filth of the city. Yet I can feel passion, joy, happiness and inspiration at the sound of a metal string. As I look around, I’m not the only one and this isn’t the first time.
One lady started to clap and I started to whistle and if you can imagine a small crowd followed, this might be the first time I have seen this after 10+ years of taking the subway! So it is possible for us to create a place where people are together and happy. Today 200 people passed by the performers, 50 were plugged into their iPods, another 50 heard the music but not the song and only 20 enjoyed the music.
So will it continue to be. For each 20 that will voice the need for good, 50 will disagree on the definition of good. 50 will choose not to hear and 200 will walk right by.
Today’s society is both oppressed and the oppressor. Inequality is in the open and morals seem to be a taboo.
The change begins with us, our homes, our families, our friends and the strangers that we see. However tight our shackles bind us to society, we have a choice. Just how much of our lifestyles are we willing to let go in the name of equality, peace and justice?
The decision is ours.