At this very moment, I feel betrayed by history; or perhaps more accurately, what narrow snapshots I have been education upon up until this point. I recently discovered the series “Home Fires” and learned that something called the Women’s Institute was largely responsible for holding down the fort, keeping the nation fed, organizing the evacuation of children and disabled adults out of the cities, and hosting them in the countryside. I knew about the big events of war, but not the little bit of everyday life in wartime.
Likewise, I just listened to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech; “Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam” and wondered why all I ever heard him say was his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. It seems now is a good time as any to go over what he considered the triple evils of his time, poverty / economic exploitation, racism, and militarism.
“Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for ‘the least of these.”
Poverty includes and is not limited to: unemployment, homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy, infant mortality, and slums.
“Racism is a philosophy based on a contempt for life. It is the arrogant assertion that one race is the center of value and object of devotion, before which other races must kneel in submission. It is the absurd dogma that one race is responsible for all the progress of history and alone can assure the progress of the future. Racism is total estrangement. It separates not only bodies, but minds and spirits. Inevitably it descends to inflicting spiritual and physical homicide upon the out-group.”
Racism includes and is not limited to: prejudice, apartheid, ethnic conflict, anti-Semitism, sexism, colonialism, homophobia, ageism, discrimination against disabled groups, and stereotypes.
“A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war- ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’ This way of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
Militarism includes and is not limited to: war, imperialism, domestic violence, rape, terrorism, human trafficking, media violence, drugs, child abuse, and violent crime.
The triple evils were not defeated in the Civil Rights era, they were challenged, they were beaten, but not destroyed. They have recovered their strength and gone on the offensive. Sadly, many of us were taught that the lessons learned in the Civil Rights era were closed, we slayed the dragon and moved on to fight other battles, not realizing it’s teeth had planted the seeds for the next battle to spring up.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a student of Mahatma Gandhi, they both saw the value of non-violence. Non-violence, however, became a tool to fight against oppression, but not a a way of life. With the oppression of segregation gone, non-violence was a tool that was put back until the shed until we had further use of it. We allowed it to grow dusty as our nation went to war, lost itself in economic woes, and rekindled the flame of racism in it’s many forms. And so it shall be our lot to battle these triple evils until we take up the banner of non-violence as our way of life and true equality for everyone – no qualifications, no differences.