What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: Gymkatat
Martin Luther King, Jr. is a man remembered for many things. Honored in our day for his non-violent opposition to injustice and his adamant dream of peace, King symbolizes the hope that many people share for a similar dream made real. Inspired by his activism and bold demands for equality under the law, unseen patriots march onwards today in a similar quest.
While many of the issues King advocated have been brought to resolution, threats to liberty still exist and continue to extend their roots, gaining a firm grip that will not easily relent. In a speech given over four decades ago, King discussed the hegemony he saw—the real threat to liberty in our day:
I have tried to offer [these desperate, rejected, and angry young men] my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent. (Martin Luther King, Jr., via Quoty)
What Martin Luther King, Jr. did was to stand up and speak out—to raise a warning voice to one of the real and more menacing threats to liberty: the men in our own government, the so-called “leaders of the free world”. Arguing against the war in Vietnam, King spoke words that have never rang more true than they do in our day:
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. (Martin Luther King, Jr., via Quoty)
What King did raised the awareness of the common people to one of the true sources of our nation’s spiritual decay, loss of freedom, and oppressive policies. Echoing similar words spoken by Joseph Smith while he, like King, was imprisoned at the time, King stated:
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed. (Martin Luther King, Jr., via Quoty)
The fanned flames of liberty continue to shine their light in a dark day of big government, decreasing civil liberties, and foreign aggression. What King did still trudges onward as a tribute to one of the great men who sued for peace and advocated individual liberty.