Thursday, January 21, 2010

MLK's Economic Justice

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.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Over at The Nation, Mark Engler does a beautiful job of portraying the theological economics of Martin Luther King. Forty years ago, the US was embroiled in a increasingly unpopular and unsuccessful war with a Democratic President attempting to confront poverty on a widescale. Civil Rights legislation had just narrowly passed (finally) and King was continuing to speak out openly on issues of poverty and militarism, in addition to his massive crusade for racial reconciliation.

Engler reminds readers of the 2008 MLK Day Democratic Presidential Primary debate between Clinton, Edwards and Obama, quoting Obama's response to a question about who King would endorse if he was still with us today:

I don't think Dr. King would endorse any of us. I think what he would call upon the American people to do is to hold us accountable.... I believe change does not happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up. Dr. King understood that. It was those women who were willing to walk instead of ride the bus, union workers who are willing to take on violence and intimidation to get the right to organize.... Them arguing, mobilizing, agitating, and ultimately forcing elected officials to be accountable, I think that's the key.

In order for King's radically Christian economic policies to become a reality, a movement of voters will need to mobilize, sacrifice and act in creative ways in order to get the attention of Obama and Congress, especially in light of the much greater powers given to corporations and special interest groups after today's Supreme Court decision. Howard Zinn assesses Obama's first-year as President today with a call for progressives to unite and challenge him on vital issues. A grass-roots movement is the only HOPE for real CHANGE.

Over at DemocracyNow, Amy Goodman's interview of Kim Ives is yet another tremendous journalistic effort unveiling how American policy has affected Haiti: it's not just Mother Nature we have to blame.

--Theological Autopilot

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