King for a Day… January 16, 2012

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prophet.

Without understanding this simple fact, nothing of any true significance can be gained by discussing his life, studying his path or commemorating his day. As a prophet, he had the purpose of discovering the ants infesting our picnic and dispelling the sand from the gears of the machine of progress. Because of that, I know one thing for certain–neither liberals or conservatives would be happy with him today.

The liberals try to wrap him up in a big bow for their causes, saying that he was a voice against conservative bigotry in this country. The conservatives cautiously mention him in reference to his stands against government establishments.

I will not lead you to believe that I am an expert on the life and times of Dr. King. I know more than some and less than many. But from that limited perspective, allow me to get the dialogue started on a worthwhile subject. What would Dr. King–Martin, if you will–do if he woke up in America today?

He would never have approved the bail-out of Wall Street, AIG and the banks. Even if it were a President of his particular liking, he would have stood against the greed that caused the need that ended up planting the seed of economic disaster. How do I know this? Because what took him to Memphis, where he was cruelly assassinated, was standing with the local garbage collectors against the systems that tried to keep them from a decent wage. The liberals would be very disappointed with Martin because he would not authorize a heavy-handed government solution to a systemic problem–poor usage of funds and lack of economic awareness and principle.

Likewise, Martin would certainly speak out against the conservatives and their belief that they can socially engineer our country into some sort of manufactured righteousness, cleaning the outside of the cup but leaving the inside filthy. He would not tolerate a state in the Union still flying the Confederate flag under some ridiculous assertion of honoring heritage. The conservatives would be greatly upset with his desire to see freedom for all, even if that liberty meant that we must occasionally tolerate other people’s practices which we find distasteful or even sinful.

Martin would upset many people because he was humorous. He was  a practical joker. He didn’t take everything in his life too seriously, but instead made time for fun. His friends remember that the last thing they did with their leader was have a pillow fight in the motel room. Matter of fact, when he was struck down by the bullet, they failed to run to his side because they thought he was kidding around. Both Republicans and Democrats are an overly somber group of grumpers, who feel that maturity is best expressed by furrow-browed discussions of great intensity.

The Hollywood community would be greatly astounded that Martin would not be applauding their efforts. Dr. King believed that the message should affect culture–not that our culture should determine how we pander out our message. He would not applaud the rap and hip-hop community for creating a new level of social ignorance and mistreatment of women, glorifying violence under the guise of presenting realism. He would tell them clearly: there are different ways to keep from advancing as a people. You can be held back by another race–or you can hold yourselves back by locking into the provided stereotype.

I think Republicans AND Democrats would be greatly distressed by his unwillingness to support our penchant for war. Matter of fact, there are those who believe he was assassinated NOT because of his stance on civil rights, but rather, because he had begun to speak out against the war in Viet Nam.

He would also stand against a religious system still using an alleged worship hour for segregation, claiming that the spiritual experiences are “unique” and therefore can remain separate.

He would be distressful to our society because he would not be pleased with what he saw, and as a prophet, he would speak out freely against excess and lack. And the interesting thing is, he probably, if he lived in our time, would not be assassinated–at least not with a bullet. Instead, his sexual trysts, pranks and probably even his finances would come under severe scrutiny, be exposed in our 24-hour news cycle, and within a very short period of time, he would be retired to the hall of disgrace.

That’s the way we handle our prophets today. We find their foibles, which are really what make them human enough to BE voices crying in the wilderness, and we focus on those missteps, advertise them and discuss them off-handedly until everyone agrees that the person we are attacking is so devoid of character that we shouldn’t listen to a thing that he or she has to say.

Dr. King would not make the liberals happy. He was too independemt, asking people to rise up for themselves rather than taking government hand-outs, requiring people to take responsibility for their lives.

Martin would certainly frustrate the conservatives because he would demand that from our position of self-discovery, we allow others a chance to have the same right and privilege, and that we not try to go further, leaving the less fortunate in the background.

Martin would certainly anger the entertainment industry because he would challenge the superficial nature of their art and ask them if there was any soul left in their proposed genius.

King for a Day–it would require that you be a prophet who speaks out about the weaknesses of a society that is aware of its futility, but insists that change is unnecessary and instead, selects a jaded profile of dejection.

I like this holiday. It reminds me that we still require prophets. It lets me know that there is still a message that needs to be shared that is neither conservative or liberal, religious or secular, but rather, human. When we cease to believe that the message from God is really delivered in the language of our own species, we no longer have His blessing.

Dr. King–if he were here today, he would probably read this essay and say, “You got some of it right, kid, but you missed me on several points.”

For after all, he’s a prophet. It isn’t his job to be agreeable, just to get us all to move towards greater agreement.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Agree! God bless you, Jonathan, and America and the memory of Martin Luther King and his namesake.

    Like


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