Wednesday, August 28, 2013

50 Years Ago, A Dream

Dr. Martin Luther King is one of the great thinkers who built this nation. His name joins other great thinkers such as Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Paine, John Locke, Alexandre De Tocqueville, Adam Smith, Milton Friedman, Thomas Jefferson and Fredrick Douglas. 

On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. The speech highlighted a "promised land" of equal opportunities. This speech, along with most of his others, spoke of this great nation taking the final steps towards true liberty. It promoted the freedom to pursue happiness, as defined by great philosophers such as John Locke. John Locke referred to "happiness" as "property".

That "property" is not ownership of another human. It is not ownership of what another human has rightfully worked for and earned. It is each individual, regardless of "race", religious creed, or circumstances of birth, to create, own, keep, or lawfully trade what each individual decides to create, own, keep, or lawfully trade (or the fruits of such actions).

It applies to owning your own thoughts. It applies to owning one's own ideas. It applies to owning one's own efforts. It applies to owning your own responsibilities, decisions, actions, and consequences thereof. The forced government redistribution of this wealth or lawful acquisition/creation/property is opposed to Dr. King's ideology.

His words strongly indicate he wanted each individual to be free to earn without having the fruits of the labors taken away. He opposed artificial barriers and obstacles placed in a person's way because of some collectivist demographic category. Being born poor is not an excuse to not work hard. It is not an excuse to expect somebody else to take care of you. It should be a motivator to work hard, spend wisely, and build a life.

There are enough challenges and obstacles built into life. No, life itself is "not fair". Though, yes, it really is. We all face hardships and challenges, though not necessarily the same ones. It is what you choose to do about them that changes how you achieve. Do you save during the "fat years" in order to maintain your quality of life during the "lean years"? When work is available, do you do the extra effort, now, so you have something banked for the "slow times"? Do you make sure you save enough to afford recreation and comfort for those breaks everybody needs?

Artificial barriers are ones based upon bigotry, prejudice, racism, and collectivist perceptions. Others may try to create those obstacles or place them in our way. You cannot control them. Is this wrong? Yes, especially if it is intentional. Your job is to go around those obstacles or break through them, not to stagnate yourself. Where we get the greatest artificial barriers is when we create them for ourselves.

We create barriers for ourselves. "I'll never get that job because [insert obstacle:  I'm black, My parents were immigrants and I speak with an accent, I'm Jewish, I'm female, I'm male, I'm gay, I'm a cat lover]". If some jackass is going to try to toss those in front of you, you blow past them. But when you do it to yourself, you cannot blame anybody but yourself. Now, an obstacle such as "I don't have the experience", then work to overcome it. Get the experience. "It requires a degree". Do you have experience that can equal the degree? Maybe take a job a step down, if they offer, and get your butt in school to get the piece of paper. Those obstacles are up to you to overcome. If you choose not to, it is your own fault. Don't blame anybody else.

21 years ago, in the spring of 1992, there was a five-day massive riot. The riot was allegedly started over race. The beating Rodney King sustained was wrong regardless what Rodney's race was. He could have been purple, the beating was wrong. The verdict was the verdict. People were outraged. Rioting was an extreme escalation of the "two wrongs" rule. The riots also turned from a rather violent protest to chaos and a seeming license for larceny and assault. However, the whole mass criminal mob action was blamed on race. The cops could have been racist, yes. But the riots themselves had little to do with real racism. People of all races behaved criminally. People of all races also acted morally, trying to protect not only their lives and property, but those of others.

"Race relations" took a hit those days. But, at their worst, they really were better than in 1962.

In the book I am writing, I talk about my involvement during the race riots after Dr. King's murder. I was an infant, still in my mother's womb. So, I didn't experience the riots in any way that I'd recall. But I interviewed people in my life who did live through it. The riots happened across the country, with the greatest flares being in places such as Washington, DC (where I lived at the time) and Chicago (where we moved two years later to be closer to my father's family).

Here is an excerpt:

On April 4, 1968 a great American was assassinated. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. Dr. King firmly believed in non-violent protests to raise awareness and bring individual rights to those Americans who were ideologically denied their Natural Rights. The initial results of his assassination played out over the next five days as Chicago, Washington, DC and nine other cities erupted in racially motivated riots and violence. The reaction was as contrary to Dr. King’s message as eating prime rib is contrary to devout Hinduism. Ordinary people took the assassination as an act of “race war” and took to the streets in violent protest. Mob mentality took over.
A little study into the tactics and organizational demagoguery done by Marxist and Frankfort School ideologues, it is easy to draw a logical conclusion that the riots were more motivated by left-wing extremists.  Somebody took advantage of the extreme emotional state of King’s followers in the Civil Rights Movement and incited them towards violence.
Despite not yet being born, I was there, in a Washington, DC suburb, in my mother’s womb as rioters looted and burned the city. She was at her job in a dentist’s office. The security guard locked and barricaded the door to protect the personnel inside. Hearing of the riots, my father left his place of employment and sped toward the office. He arrived and escorted my mother to his car, a Dodge Charger. From there, they sped to their suburban DC apartment, attempting to get there before law enforcement sealed off the rioting neighborhoods.
The police sealed off bridges, tunnels, and streets that led into the neighborhoods. The majority of the damage done by the riots was people idiotically destroying the places where they lived. My father told my mother “You’re done there. You’re quitting. You’re pregnant. Those neighborhoods aren’t safe. Find a new office to work in, closer to home”.  She never returned. It took months to repair the massive amount of damage.
The riots didn’t bring Martin Luther King Jr. back to life. All they accomplished was a self-destruction of some predominantly black communities. If this were meant as an Alinsky Tactic to push a negative through to a positive, it failed, leaving it stuck as a great negative and blight against civil rights. It gave people who were ignorant or apathetic about racism a chance to see things differently. That illusionary perspective was the very one MLK worked so long and hard to dispel. The rioters just enforced that illusion, obfuscating Dr. King’s message.

Looking back, our country has come a long way. Do people still discriminate? Yes. It is a fact of human nature. There will always be small-minded people who wish to lump you into a pigeonhole. That is their problem. Don't fit into any hole -- square, round,star-shaped... . Be you. Work hard. Let the small-minded suffer their own mental illness. When you surpass them and their expectations, it will be their own jealousy and envy that will undo them. You can let it affect your life or you can decide to do what you know you can do, regardless of it. Now, it is up to you. Things have changed dramatically in the past 50 years.