The Rutherford Institute :: What Happens to a Dream Deferred? Ask Martin Luther King Jr.

The truth is, that all men having power ought to be distrusted. 

James Madison,

images expectationsA politics of inequality and ruthless power disparities is now matched by a culture of cruelty defined by the slow violence of debt, impoverishment, wartime military recruitment, criminalization, incarceration, and silent misery.

There is a particularly savage violence in the stories that now shape matters of governance, policy, education, and everyday life, one that has made America barely recognizable as a civilian democracy.

==The State of the American Mind: 16 Leading Critics on the New Anti-Intellectualism

A predatory culture celebrates a narcissistic hyper-individualism that radiates a near sociopathic lack of interest in—or compassion and responsibility for—others. Anti-public intellectuals who dominate the screen and aural cultures urge us to spend more, indulge more, and make a virtue out of the pursuit of personal gain, while producing a depoliticized culture of consumerism.

Undermining life-affirming social solidarities and any viable notion of the public good, politicians trade in forms of idiocy and superstition that seem to mesmerize the undereducated and render the thoughtful cynical and disengaged. Militarized police forces armed with the latest weapons tested in Afghanistan and Iraq play out their fantasies on the home front by forming robo-SWAT teams that willfully assault protesters and raid neighborhood poker games.

Congressional lobbyists hired by big corporations and defense contractors create conditions in which war zones abroad can be re-created at home in order to market military-grade surveillance tools and weapons to a full range of clients, from gated communities to privately owned for-profit prisons.

The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America’s Disimagination Machine, (Giroux, Henry A.)

march_of_tyrannyOver thirty years ago historian Daniel Boorstin described these expectations and their contradictory nature: We expect anything and everything. We expect the contradictory and the impossible. We expect compact cars which are spacious; luxurious cars which are economical.

We expect to be rich and charitable; powerful and merciful, active and reflective, kind and competitive. We expect to be inspired by mediocre appeals for “excellence,” to be made literate by illiterate appeals for literacy.

We expect to eat and stay thin, to be constantly on the move and ever more neighborly, to go to a “church of our choice” and yet feel its guiding power over us, to revere God and to be God.

The therapeutic vision, in sum, has destroyed the age-old concept of sin and moral responsibility, and has replaced it with “sickness.”

==Plagues of the Mind: The New Epidemic of False Knowledge (Thornton, Bruce)

The expectation of changing human nature by the destruction of economic privilege to such a degree that no one will desire to make selfish use of power, must probably be placed in the category of romantic illusions.

==Major Works on Religion and Politics: (Niebuhr, Reinhold)

What Happens to a Dream Deferred? Ask Martin Luther King Jr.

Freedom, human dignity, brotherhood, spirituality, peace, justice, equality, putting an end to war and poverty: these are just a few of the big themes that shaped King’s life and his activism. As King recognized, there is much to be done if we are to make this world a better place, and we cannot afford to play politics when so much hangs in the balance.

It’s time to wake up, America.

To quote my hero: “[O]ur very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change. The large house in which we live demands that we transform this world-wide neighborhood into a world-wide brotherhood. Together we must learn to live as brothers or together we will be forced to perish as fools.”

What Happens to a Dream Deferred Ask Martin Luther King Jr