“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you, Wu wu wu, What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson, Jolting Joe has left and gone away, Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey” Paul Simon
It is fifty years since Martin Luther King has been shot dead. Where are the heroes of today?
First of all perhaps we must define what makes a person a hero. A hero to me is somebody who makes a sacrifice for the benefit of others. In this case somebody like Martin Luther King gave his life to help a movement to liberate African Americans and poor people in general from the oppression of American society. He did so at personal expense, putting his life on the line. He also help form an effective movement.
Soldiers aren’t heroes. What soldiers do is they go to foreign lands and kill people so corporations can secure resources. I’ll admit it takes a measure of courage to go into combat but soldiers today are not defending the United States, the whole military industrial complex is part of the problem.
Police aren’t heroes, especially when one considers the alarming rate that young black men are being gunned down. Perhaps police will do heroic actions from time to time but just by wearing a blue uniform does not qualify you.
Firemen are true heroes as are EMT’s. But unfortunately firemen and EMT’s aren’t leading a movement to create a better world.
Turning back to Martin Luther King let us look clearly at what he was actually in favor of and what he was against of. Civil Rights is what pops into a person’s mind right away. It is what we are conditioned to think. Still we must dig deeper. Martin Luther King was against the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was a war of foreign conquest to keep a group of people subjugated. There are direct parallels to what the United States is doing today in Iraq and Afghanistan. I firmly believe without doubt that if Martin Luther King was alive today that he would be adamantly against all the wars of aggression the United States is involved with today.
Martin Luther King was also concerned with elevating the quality of life for poor people. As he grew as a human being and a leader Martin Luther King was coming closer and closer to the socialist philosophy. It was one of the reasons he was assassinated.
There are many people who have taken up the causes that Martin Luther King espoused. For the most part the true leaders of the ‘resistance’ are very local and unknown. There are some who have risen to heights only to sell out the people. Rewarded with a cable television show and a nice paycheck these turncoats do more to hamper the movement rather than help. They have become apologists for the Democratic party. The Democratic party does not represent those who desire a profound change in society as Martin Luther King did.
The circle is always complete. The most important lesson about Martin Luther King is in fact that he really wasn’t that important. In European philosophy they are always looking to attribute something to an individual. That is why Europeans are entrenched with monarchies, they look to one man to lead. What Martin Luther King did was to articulate the thoughts and ideas of millions of people. He did so in a very dramatic and convincing way, but the power was in the people and not one man. This fact is very important to understand. European philosophy would have the masses wait around until somebody with Martin Luther King’s brilliance pops up on the scene to lead the movement. This is the entirely wrong philosophy.
Instead every person who has a love for their fellow man should be actively involved in creating a better and more just world. There is plenty of work to be done and you don’t need a charismatic, articulate man to show you the way. No you have inside of you already what you need. If you search around and give it a little effort you will find that like minded people are probably already active in your community. It is a person’s responsibility to take the gift that God has given you and use it for the benefit of others.
So you’re looking for a hero, I suggest you try the mirror first.
Check out my book Poet To The Poor, Poems Of Hope For The Bottom One Percent. It is a book that tells the stories of people in the resistance both historical and from my life.
Photos by DrPhotoMoto,