Martin Luther King Showed Us How Political Discourse Should Be

Posted: January 16, 2011 in Current Events, Politics
Tags: , , , , , ,

After the unfortunate events in Arizona in which a mass shooting occurred at a political event, there has been much discussion of the current political climate and what role it may have played.  I don’t want to get into that really, as I think it is very difficult to attempt to rationalize the behavior of the irrational.  I also don’t think we can create an environment in which the irrational will act rationally no matter how hard we try.  The more I hear about this guy, the more I think his (and I will be charitable in what I call this) viewpoints don’t really fit on the traditional political viewpoint scale anyway.  I tend to think he was marching to the beat of his own drum and no one else’s.

I do find it ironic that much of the discussion revolving around the political environment is in the very vein of the type of discussion that causes the vitriolic political environment in the first place, at least IMHO.  The finger-pointing, the name calling, the making mountains out of molehills, it’s all there.  Same old stuff.  Both sides participating.  But the reason that the constant finger-pointing/name calling/characterizations/etc. are bad is not because it will get people shot.  They are bad because you can’t truly discuss the issues and thus you can’t solve anything.  I mean, would you want to discuss anything with somebody compared you to Hitler?  Further, such discussions are tiresome and cause people to want to tune the whole process out.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Take a look at what Martin Luther King did in the 1960’s.  Watch the “I Have A Dream” speech.  It’s only 17 minutes, you have time.  Just take a second away from watching the girl falling into the fountain while texting. (I admit, that’s hilarious, but it will still be funny when you watch later, I promise!)

Did you watch?  Good.  Note that Dr. King spoke passionately, but there was no fear mongering.  No ‘nation is going to hell in a hand basket’.  Dr. King delivered a positive message of what America can, should, and will be.  That is what inspires people to change.  That is how you change people’s mind.  That is what I wish we would see more of today.

I just thought this is something we should think about with the MLK holiday being celebrated tomorrow.  (Just as an aside, I was listening to the NPR story regarding this speech yesterday, and the story reminded me about how MLK went off-script staring with his first utterance of “I have a dream”.  Makes you wonder what all would have changed had Dr. King simply delivered his prepared speech that day.  I think it is safe to say that this speech would not have been considered the landmark speech it is today.  But what else would have changed?)


  1. Well said and so very, very germane to today’s environment. While political discourse has at times been full of vitriol, in my lifetime this is certainly the worst I have seen, which begs the question can it get worse? I am afraid of the answer.

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