Why I Am Opposed to the War

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Each year on the third monday of January I hear this amazing speaker on NPR all day. No commercials, weather, traffic or breaks. The voice is a bit slow and measured, but the content pokes you in the chest, over and over. This guy is making a lot of sense, I think. He's talking about peace, war, about the poor, about what America should be. And I'm surprised again when I hear "Vietnam" just one too many times - wait, this must be a recording - and realize that it is Dr. ML King's birthday, and a man who died almost 40 years ago has words that sound like he's talking about our country today.
"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
Radical Love Gets a Holiday: how Reagan reluctantly signed the MLK holiday into law.

In 6th grade, when this discussion was going on in the news, my English teacher had the unwise idea to have the class debate on whether MLK deserved a federal holiday - this was a school with a racial mix about 60/40 black/white, and a black teacher. Now this was a very sweet woman with good intentions, but she let the class decide for themselves where to sit, so of course every kid went over to the "pro" side except a fat kid who just didn't move fast enough - and me. I didn't know very much about Dr King, and I didn't know that I didn't know very much - I'd heard women couldn't vote once too - was he involved in that? Embarrassingly I decided to stay put just out of stubbornness - heck somebody had to argue the "con" side, and I never stepped away from a challenge. So, I knew none of the facts; the peer pressure of the world was against me; and I was morally wrong too.

I gave up in 5 minutes, the teacher relented, and we all pushed our desks back together again. And I'm here 25 years later to let everybody know I was dumb and wrong. In the real world, presidents don't often apologize, whether 2 years or 20 years later. And forgiveness isn't as easy to come by.

Listen. Or read.

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This page contains a single entry by Doug Treder published on January 22, 2008 12:19 AM.

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