50 Years Later: A Dream Not Yet Fully Realized

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Fifty years ago today, Dr Martin Luther King Jr stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and shared with us his dream for our great country.  It was a fairly simple dream in that all he wanted was equality for all.  He wanted love to rule over hate, and for his own children to live in peace with white families.  So simplistic and beautiful, but has his dream been fulfilled?

In part, yes.  Under the law, everyone of every race is viewed as equal.  My daughter plays mostly with the neighbor kids who are black, and has no concept any difference other than their skin is different colors.  There are laws in place designed to give protections to Blacks in order for them to receive equal opportunities.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

But racism is not dead.  It’s far from it.  Hate crimes happen every day against all groups within our society.  It’s not just a crime against skin color anymore.  And even with the nations first Black President in office, racism is still flourishing in all corners.  Progress has been made, as is evident with President Barack Obama, but we still has so far to go.

Fifty years later, Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians have the highest rates of poverty with unequal access to the very things that improve and better an individuals place in society, like education and pay.  Inner cities, where minorities are the majority, have the lowest performing and underfunded school systems.  This is also where poverty flourishes.  Women are still fighting for equal pay to that of their male counterparts, as well as the right to govern over their own bodies.  Homosexuals are still fighting for marriage equality, and the same benefits for their families that heterosexual couples receive.  Muslims, and people who are mistaken for Muslims, are hated and discriminated against because of the actions of a few.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is no finger-pointing here.  There is plenty of blame to go around.  We all have a share in the progression of equality.  A truly free society, in my opinion, is one in which equality is second nature.  Everybody has the same access to the important things, such as healthcare and education.  Instead of a dark cloud of hatred, a beautiful light of love shines down on everyone.

That may be only a dream, but it’s a dream worth making a reality.  Let’s reflect on the last fifty years.  All the progress, the steps backward, and the path that lie ahead of us in order to reach that dream.  Dr. King’s dream should not go unfulfilled.  His words and actions should be remembered for generations to come, and not taken for granted until his dream has been realized.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you wish to read Dr. King’s speech, and I think everyone should today, you can find it HERE at the National Archives.  You can also listen to him give his historical speech here in this video:

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Stop Turning A Blind Eye

“You can turn a blind eye to people causing others to suffer greatly, believing God will choose who is worthy at the end of days, or you can bring down those who cause such horrendous chaos and God can still decide who had evil or good in their hearts.”

I am agnostic, so the part about God above means nothing to me, but the idea behind the quote is strong.  You can choose to stand by and watch atrocities happen, all while believing they will get their own against them in return, OR you can choose to stand up against the atrocities and those who perform them.  I choose the latter.

Recently, Russia has been in the news due to a law that was passed and upheld in regards to homosexuality.  From what I understand, the law was intended to prevent people from using homosexual “propaganda” against children, indoctrinating them and making them gay.  This has brought protests and supportive rallies for and by homosexuals, which has brought on arrests, violent public beatings, and shaming.  Carry a rainbow anything on your person, and you face the chance of an arrest, or being publicly beaten to a bloody pulp.  Support the gays, and you face the same consequence.  All in order to keep our children safe from the gay.

gayolympicsThe Olympics are coming up, and they are being hosted by Russia this time around.  Many are voicing their opposition to Russia’s laws and behavior, and fear for their own safety, or the safety of their countries athletes.  Many are even calling for a boycott of the Olympics in protest.  Russia has claimed they will not punish those from other countries who are gay, or support their fellow teammates who are gay, but come on.  Who really believes that?  They might not face criminal charges, but the fact remains that violence is being brought down on people who support, or who show they are gay.  Who wouldn’t fear walking down the street with a gay friend, or holding hands with their partner?

Stephen Fry was on Twitter this morning calling for a solidarity salute by the athletes, a salute to show Putin and his lawmakers that they stand by their fellow gay athletes, and that he can shove it up his ass (The hashtag is #sochisalute, in case you’re interested or have ideas).  In response, a fellow Twitterer has expressed that we should keep politics out of sports, and that we should confront the situation with more politics.  This person has also stated in a lengthy conversation with me that it’s just a law against propaganda against children, and that she has not seen proof that violence and oppression is occurring.  She’s Russian, and lives in Moscow, by the way.

Turning a blind eye.  Maybe she is doing it because the news in Russia chooses to not broadcast such atrocities, knowing full well they are horrible and should be condemned.  Maybe she really doesn’t have any idea this is going on, or maybe she is just part of the problem.  Knowingly turning a blind eye so that you do not need to stand up and fight against the problems is part of the problem.  Choosing to ignore the pain and suffering of those around you because it should be left to the lawmakers is part of the problem.  Standing by and not making your voice heard because the politicians and law enforcement can handle it is part of the problem.

How can anyone turn away from what is so obvious?  Maybe it’s a fear of getting beaten and arrested themselves, but even that shouldn’t prevent a person from speaking out.  Nothing was ever accomplished through silence.  Nothing was ever changed that way.

Stand up, use your voice, use any power you may have to stop the wrongs being forced on others.  Stand up to that bully threatening that kid on the playground.  Speak up and protest those politicians who are abusing their power to oppress others.  Stop those people beating up another just because of their skin color, or sexuality.  Even if you think it will change nothing, do it!  Awareness and a voice will bring light upon those performing the atrocities, and they will no longer be able to hide among the shadows.  They will be forced to be seen for all that they are.

Stop turning a blind eye, or you will become a victim yourself.

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