As we step into a new year we feel fortunate to reflect on the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the lessons he left behind. In too many cases his speeches and works feel all too relevant to the current state of our country.
Most of U.S. taxpayer dollars go to the Department of Defense, and most of those funds are earmarked for war profiteers. What would Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. think of this today?
Rev. King predicted that this would happen in a country where a love of money has replaced a love for humanity. His vision of justice for African-Americans and poor people lead him to a critique of American militarism and our nation’s deep hypocrisy. His intersectional analysis is most apparent in a speech that has meant a lot to our community entitled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” Rev. King spoke to the ‘triplets of evil’: militarism, poverty, and racism, exactly one year before his death.
Rev. King’s vision of ‘the triplets of evil’ was some of our inspiration to refine our mission statement back in 2012. Fighting militarism means not just stopping one war, but taking on the underlying social structures of racism, poverty, and policies that enabled the the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to continue, while politicians and defense contractors get rich.
Rev. King’s light helped us see the militarism in our police. The militarism of our public lands. The militarism of the borders. The militarism in our schools. And virtually all of our institutions. 2018 is the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination and we know his foreboding prophecies came true: we have become a privatized mercenary society. As veterans we witnessed this first hand as our jobs were turned over to contractors, our pay cut, and our benefits revoked.
Worse still are the millions of innocents half a world away who live in fear of the missiles of the United States, of a racist president who thinks their countries are worthless, and of the wars that never seem to have an end.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also gave us dreams of a better world if we choose the right path. If we turn away from war. If we give the impoverished dignity in their jobs. If we root out the disease of racism from the very soul of our nation. This is what we know to be true as veterans. Every single one of us that has renounced the wars has been put on a path to healing ourselves and hopefully this nation. We have turned around our own lives to fight for the nation and world as it should be – a place that brings prosperity and dignity, not war.
Thank you for being someone we can count on in this fight. Knowing that our struggle is just and has been held by such luminaries as Rev. King helps us stay the course. And we are so glad to have you with us to fulfill his dream of peace and universal love.
Rev. Shawna Foster