My previous posting was “In Praise of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” and this posting is being made on what should have been his eighty-first birthday instead of his birthday anniversary. I wonder what Dr. King would be thinking and doing if he were a healthy and active 81-year-old senior statesman, such as, say, Jimmy Carter, who is still quite productive even though he was born more than four years before King.
I can’t help but think that Dr. King would be dissatisfied with many of the problems African-Americans still face in this society but that, at the same time, he would acknowledge that significant progress has been made since 1963, the year about which he wrote in Why We Can’t Wait. It seems to me there is a world of difference between the situation all across the South (and the rest of the nation) today from what it was in “Bull Connor’s Birmingham” that King wrote about so vividly in the third chapter of that book.
Thinking back over the last 150 years in the U.S., hasn’t there been significant progress made for African-Americans (abolition of slavery, suffrage, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, etc.), for women (suffrage and significant gains in many ways since the woman’s liberation movement of the 1970s), for senior citizens (social security, Medicare), for the poor (welfare provisions at different levels through the years and now the impending health care bill), and maybe even recently for Native Americans?
I write “even recently for Native Americans” not just because they are one Thinking Friend’s primary concern but because they are a segment of society which has been most oppressed and mistreated during the last 150 years. But even though it was not a U.S. action, it is significant, I think, that in 2007 the U.N. General Assembly passed the “United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” affirming, among other things, that “indigenous peoples are equal to all other peoples.” Sadly, though, this U.N. Declaration has received little publicity and probably as yet has not been greatly helpful to Native Americans and other indigenous peoples of the world.
In comments made on my previous posting, another Thinking Friend wrote, “What are the areas of injustice that we should be standing for these days in our community and in the greater global community?” Or, we might ask, where are the main areas in which progress still needs to be made?
For the nation as a whole, perhaps the treatment of Native Americans remains one of the greatest areas of injustice. But to my knowledge, most of us do not live in communities where that is a local problem. So, I wonder if the primary area of injustice in the communities most of us live in is not that of gays and lesbians. Perhaps more than any other group in our communities gays and lesbians are now victims of the greatest prejudice, discrimination, and lack of civil rights. And much of that injustice, unfortunately, is due to attitudes that many Christians have and support.
This is a subject to which I will probably need to return. But I wonder what other area(s) of chronic injustice you see in contemporary society and especially in the community where you live.