4 Responses to MLK: Occupy his vision

  1. Anthony Marsella says:

    The attached words are from an article I wrote entitled: “Becoming Counselors to the World.” This article grew from a keynote address to the American Counseling Association Convention in Atlanta, Georgia in 2005. In this article I turned to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr for inspiration and meaning.
    Seven years have passed – but the message is still the same, the passion is still alive, and the hope is still undiminished. I am older. But I now know I cannot be idle. As we approach the day we celebrate our memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, it would be wise for us to remember and to cherish his words and legacy as we face increased abuses and oppression from those in power. Perhaps we should celebrate his memory each day so that we do not forget how easy it is to yield to the forces of ignorance and hate, to be seduced by promises easily betrayed, and to remain silent in the face of injustice.
    Counselling Psychology Quarterly, June 2006; 19(2): 121–132
    Justice in a global age: Becoming counselors to the world

    Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Atlanta, Georgia! Welcome to the Land of Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968).

    Welcome to the land where one man made the word ‘‘justice’’ a living reality. Welcome to the land where one’s man’s vision brought changes to a nation’s identity, conscience, and heritage. Welcome to the land where one man’s relentless pursuit of justice for his people – and for people everywhere – changed history through non-violence.

    It was here, more than 40 years ago, that a voice refused to be silenced regardless of the threats, dangers, and risks to life. It was here in Atlanta, and then in a thousand other places across the land, from Alabama to Chicago, from Washington DC to California, that the deep, resonant, baritone voice of a Black man electrified the air with words of such magnitude, of such righteousness, of
    such eloquence that they crushed the very roots of bondage that had sustained injustice of centuries through fear, abuse, and pain.

    It was here, and across the land, that hundreds of thousands harkened to King’s stirring words and joined in protests at great costs to their safety, health, and livelihood. The task for King, and the countless others who took up the cause of justice in those tumultuous years, was both to undo a history of injustice and oppression, and to build a future founded on the justice, freedom, and opportunity that our laws guaranteed but never fulfilled. It was to ensure that justice and the burdens of injustice would be distributed equally, and that each person – regardless of race, creed or color – would assume personal responsibility for this task. This, then, is the challenge that remains, as life in a global age becomes our undeniable reality, and as our nation moves slowly away from the ideals that were promised and guaranteed by law and by the sacrifices of millions who came before.

    Today, as we gather to share ideas, to seek wisdom, to pursue inspiration, to bond in common purpose, let me be clear in my message: I do not come to tell you that the profound changes inspired by King and the countless others who participated in the pursuit of justice in the 1960s are sufficient. Nor do I come to tell you that we must be content with the barriers that have been broken, proud of the advances that have been made, and patient with the remaining challenges that are so slow to change.

    I come here to day to tell you that King’s words are enshrined in stone to remind us that the struggle for justice will always continue. I come here today to tell you that the fierce and exhausting struggle that began in the Land of King forty years ago has not ended, and will continue for generations to come because the roots of hate, ignorance, and evil endure, nurtured by the protective veils of corruption, bias, and greed.

    King’s call to justice – though now more than 40 years old – echoes throughout our global age. Listen! Can you hear the cries of the masses around the world leading lives of desperation – lives devoid of hope, lives existing from moment to moment, each breathe lacking even the reflexive assurance that the next will occur. The struggle for justice is global in proportion and consequence. There are victims of war, oppression, and natural disasters. There are victims of poverty, famine, and disease. There are victims of labor, gender, and child exploitation.
    They yearn for recognition, support, and justice.

    But answering King’s call, and the call of the thousands of others who have responded to injustice in our time will not be easy! It will add burdens to your conscience, responsibilities to your daily rounds, and threats to your safety. In answering the call, your life will not be the same. You may be required to face the harsh reality of being singled out for abuse from reactionary forces whose very ignorance and inhumanity keeps them locked in hate. Your comfort, safety, security, and reputation will all be at risk. But what will not be at risk is your personal integrity, your dignity, and your position of gratitude, respect, and admiration in the heart and minds of those you help. The pursuit of justice is not free of costs, but its rewards are more than gold or silver — it is knowing that in our brief time on earth, we have done something to advance the cause of life itself.

    I would be delighted to send you a copy of the complete article if you wish. Simply contact me via email.

    Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

    Show, by your actions, that you choose peace over war, freedom over oppression, voice over silence, service over self-interest, respect over advantage, courage over fear, cooperation over competition, action over passivity, diversity over uniformity, and justice over all.

    • kathiemm says:

      Thanks so much for sharing this excerpt from you article, Tony. You are one of the great voices for peace, reconciliation, and justice in the world today. The message that follows your name is one of my all time favorites:
      “Show, by your actions, that you choose peace over war, freedom over oppression, voice over silence, service over self-interest, respect over advantage, courage over fear, cooperation over competition, action over passivity, diversity over uniformity, and justice over all.” It is a message for all to try to live by.

  2. Regina Amorello says:

    Martin Luther King Jr. was indeed a morally engaged figure. I do agree that he would be a part of the Occupy movement, because MLK was not one to stand idly by as people were oppressed. He preached that we must never stop protesting injustice, even if it may seem like all odds are against us. It definitely seems like that in the Occupy movement, but I think MLK would encourage people to never lose sight of the ultimate goal (justice for all). His struggle does not end with racial inequality.

  3. kathiemm says:

    Absolutely, Regina. MLK certainly envisioned more than racial equality. He was a stalwart voice for peace, compassion, brotherhood, a living model of the message above from Dr. Marsella.

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