Song of the Day
Today’s song of the day is from U2, Pride (In the Name of Love); the second song released off their classic album, The Unforgettable Fire. This song was written about MLK. And it has always been one of my favorite songs from U2.
MLK and U2 shared far more in common than we would believe. They both represented a peaceful dialog of discourse to end violence and bring about equality -bringing different people together by focusing on our shared commonalities, rather than the things that separate and divide. For U2, it was through music.
With their debut album, Boy, in 1980, the Irish band U2 would change the music industry and the world forever. U2’s music was about far more than rock-n-roll. It was a global megaphone of the struggles of war, the struggle for Northern Ireland’s unconventional war against Britain for independence, amidst the bloodshed of the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and the notorious car bombings. U2 deserves as much credit, helping to end the bloodshed, ultimately, as any politician does.
Artistically, and not surprisingly, U2’s best work is their earlier music. War, Under A Blood Red Sky, and Unforgettable Fire were amazing. Their music had so much depth, meaning, unveiling a tragic story to the world stage.
In my opinion, U2 peaked with the release of The Joshua Tree album, one of the greatest albums in history. Rattle and Hum was still pretty good, but every subsequent album seemed to get worse and worse, as they tried to transition to a purely pop-rock band as the conflict drew to a close, riding their wave of worldwide popularity as long as they could, decades. Their last album, Songs of Innocence, was pitiful and sad. It royally sucked. U2 needs to hang it up.
I saw U2 in concert during their Elevation tour, promoting their All That You Can’t Leave Behind album. The show was fantastic, actually, even though the music paled in comparison to their older stuff. But Bono running around the huge circular stage, and we were right in the front next to the stage, down on the floor, was electrifying. Great show, with high energy.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in America.
MLK preached peaceful civil protest, not rioting and looting, or assisination of police and public figures. It’s a lesson many have forgotten today – both in civil discourse on social issues, as well as civility in politics in general. He was as eloquent as any man driven by a defining cause, well principled, and a true leader – not just for Blacks, but all Americans. He did not use his words to divide, like so many do on both sides of the political aisle, both president-elect Trump, as well as most Democrats.
Its seems like a completely different country, with completely different types of leaders, not just a different era.
The Legacy of MLK
In any city you go to in America, there is, invariably, a street named after the famous Martin Luther King, Jr. Sadly, it is always in the worst part of town, the hood, slums, the barrios.
Every American should be ashamed that is the case. It signifies the persistent gap between the Black and White, between the Rich and Poor. Still. Persistent because we turn our heads to look away, not having the courage to face the truth, or our moral responsibility.
“MLK is an inspirational figure only for Blacks and the Poor” seems to be the unspoken consensus. Forget about what people say verbally, with their PC-speak. Actions speak louder than words. Reality exposes us all, while we hide in the shadow 364 days of the year, appearing once a year, today, like Punxsutawney Phil, to say our niceties and politically correct speak.
We honor Martin Luther King Jr., while we continually dishonor him.
Yesterday’s Forgotton War; Today’s Same Battles
The war against slavery is over. Slavery was a sin against humanity, not only Blacks enslaved by their rich Southern plantation owners.
Blatant racial discrimination against people of color was an abomination; it exposed the darkness and cruelty of our innate human nature, in all of us – to separate and divide, conquer, stratify, view one person or group as superior versus another.
We were a free nation, “one nation under God”, but with different levels of freedom for some, forced to attend different churches to gather under His name.
Things have not changed so much today. The enemy is different, but the war is the same: The war against our own collective human nature.
Today’s battle is less about Black versus White, and more about the Rich versus the Poor; the Haves versus the Have-Nots. More so than ever before.
This – money – was always destined to be the final divider of society, not color, not religion.
I wish – no – I also dream, as MLK dreamed over 50 years ago, of living in a colorless world. Where being a Black President is nothing special; no more spectacular as having a White President or an Hispanic one. But, the ultimate dream is a world where the Rich and Poor are true equals, afforded equal OPPORTUNITY, equal JUSTICE, equal PURSUIT of HAPPINESS. This world is still decades, perhaps centuries away; maybe even never.
The color that divides today isn’t Black or White. It is Green. It isn’t just in America; it’s global. Our new slave masters don’t grow cotton or tobacco, they have fancy boardrooms and live behind gated communities. They dish multi-billion dollar stock options unto themselves, while their lowers grovel for pennies heaped atop their miniscule minimum wages.
Slavery has a cleaner image nowadays. The physical chains have been replaced by emotional and psychological bondage – those wondering how they will pay the mortgage month to month, feed their own children, afford essential healthcare, and still provide opportunity for their children with the parabolic cost of education.
The new slavemasters wear white collars, drive Mercedes-Benz, golf at the country clubs, pay due homage and bestow “gifts” to both political parties, while speaking harsh rhetoric railing against inequality, injustice for all, lack of opportunity for all, affordability of the struggling classes, and on and on…we always hear the right words, but never see the right actions.
The new slavemasters preach the gospel of capitalism. They speak of sailing the open seas to find new treasures, with words like NAFTA, APTA, EU, Globalization. They disguise these terms with words like freedom, “free”, while they enslave us further to our corporate masters. They are never free, nor without cost – not to the slavemasters, but to the lowers.
Hoping For A Different World
The war against racism will never end in some ways. Human nature is sometimes ugly. But we have made a great deal of progress in bringing equality. MLK would be both proud and saddened today, I believe. Proud that most Americans can now look past skin color. Proud at the integration of Blacks and other minorities into society, as equals. Proud that we had a first Black president.
But he would be saddened by the racial divides that still separate, as evidenced by the recent riots and Black Lives Matter movement. I understand what they are trying to do. Black lives do matter. And I also understand why so many Whites are put-off by the phrase; there is a certain sense of entitlement and unintended inequality implied, ironically. The real truth lays between these two viewpoints. And MLK, if he were alive today, would say something like: “Let’s find common ground; let’s open our eyes and try to see the other side; let’s open our ears and truly listen before we shout; let’s put down our guns and gasoline bottles, sticks and stones, and let’s pick-up each other.” Yes, I believe that is exactly what he would have said.
But the truth of the matter is, today, the real battle, and perhaps soon to become a full-on “war”, figuratively, is between the Haves and Have Nots.
I think if MLK were alive today, he would recognize this instantly. I have seen it first hand. It is real. It is far more real, and far more pervasive than traditional racism – practically universal, much like the condition of slavery was over two hundred years ago.
If the color of one’s skin should make no difference to one’s value, why should an arbitrary thing like money elevate one over another? To provide different justice, different opportunity, a different freedom.
But it’s true. We look up to those with money. View them as successful. We look down on those without it. View them as losers, less equal, sometimes not even human.
We all know that money translates directly to the type of legal representation we receive, and hence the probability of receiving justice. The prisons are filled with 99% poor, not out of coincidence. We all know that money translates directly to college graduation rates and educational success. And we fundamentally understand that money equals a different level of freedom, a different experience of what it means to be free, as something more than words.
Ironically, the poor are overwhelmingly the ones dying in foreign battlefields, in order to protect our freedoms.
It is absolute fact that two Americas are forming: those With and those Without.
The correlation between the “successful” versus those who are not, is very often less to do with our own hard work, and more to do with birth and placement, citizenship, intellect, and environmentally conditioned ambition. Most of this people can’t control any more so than the color of their skin they are born with. And even if 100% of these things were self-controllable, our innate worth as human beings, as true equals, should never be in doubt.
Every human being, regardless of where they live, what race, religion, sex, beautiful or ugly, powerful or impotent, athletic or lame, genius or retarded, is the same. We all struggle with the same things; possess the same desires. Dream of a better life and pursuing and finding happiness.
Let’s not leave anybody behind in this world. When you’re racing past someone who has fallen in the race, put out a helping hand, lift them up and pull them forward, one small step at a time. That’s humanity. That’s what it means to be a human being. That’s compassion. Love.
That’s what it truly means to be free – for ALL – not just the fortunate or lucky, not just in words. And in the words of the late, great Martin Luther King, Jr.:
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.
God bless, everyone. Have a wonderful day. And remember, discrimination, or viewing others as lessers – whether black, brown, yellow, or orange; rich or impoverished, genius or mentally challenged, beautiful or ugly – is the evil within all of us struggling to get out. Let’s keep it bottled up and suffocate the life out of it.