By Joe White
Two score and twelve years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I Have A Dreamspeech. In his poignant speech, Dr. King references Pres. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had occurred five score years previous to King’s 1963 speech. As most of us know, President Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, referenced back four score and seven years to The Declaration of Independence as his own rationale for fighting the South’s secession from the Union. In part, Lincoln had declared in his Gettysburg Address,
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure… we here highly resolve that these (war) dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
In August of 1963, Dr. King, the prominent civil rights leader at the time, was still trying to realize our 18th century ideals of the Declaration of Independence that Lincoln had fought to secure in the midst of America’s 19th century bloody civil war before finally himself being assassinated for urging “ that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Dr. King, too, was assassinated for urging that “a person, not be judged by the color of his skin, but the contents of his character.” Simple ideas can require centuries of struggle.
Now, America celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Has his Dream, Lincoln’s Dream, Jefferson’s Dream of liberty and equality been realized? NO! These social ideals remain works in progress. Slow, uncertain, difficult and painful is the path of such social change. At this time, in the early 21st century, the United States is traumatized by the repeated killings of unarmed, young black men often by police. At this time, the United States is divided over the right of homosexuals to be married legally. At this time, the United States and much of the world are traumatized by a small group of zealous, religious fanatics futilely attempting to achieve what human history has demonstrated repeatedly over the past millennia is impossible. At this time these highly publicized fanatics are Moslem fundamentalists while history gives of us many examples of such rigid fanaticism involving Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, the European conquest of the New World, Nazism, Stalinists, Maoism and U.S. homegrown Manifest Destiny.
Saving humanity from itself has always proven a profound, slow struggle not suited for the impetuous nor faint of heart. While conflict is inevitable and primarily a desirable condition for humanity, the human propensity to experience fear in the midst of the conflict growing out of change and diversity, typically elicits a reaction of fight or flight. But there is an alternative to our fight or flight reaction. The first, simple step, do not use violence as a means of conflict resolution. Martin Luther King Jr. represents that historical ideal of avoiding violence in confronting such conflict. This week at 2020 AYWW, we will be celebrating other non-violent activists in history.
But now humanity has 2020 A Year Without War providing a most audacious historical choice. But most humans already, as in the Civil Rights Movement, remain on the sidelines watching or they simply can not envision a future without war, as previous generations could not envision a world without slavery, witches or small pox. 2020 AYWW confronts all of us with an urgent choice regarding our future. Will you commit to pushing forth the historical experiment of 2020 A Year Without War or will you remain in the bleachers of history, watching what today’s visionaries are urgently attempting to create for you, your family and humanity. Will choose to be a free rider to historical progress? Engagement with 2020 AYWW at its basic level is free and very easy, just JOIN, LIKE, SHARE but indifference to 2020 AYWW, as we know, is not only irrational but dangerous. Please support 2020 AYWW at Indiegogo A Year Without War. The future is in your hands. ( https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/2020-a-year-without-war-pu-h-to-the-next-level )