The Relevance of MLK today

It’s Martin Luther King day. Or at least it still is in the US (it’s well after midnight in the UK as I post this).

No need for me to prattle on about how important/influential a figure he was. I came across this post on Climate Progress (‘I have a dream’) which includes a quote from King that is truly inspiring and relates to the climate battle today:

We are faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: ‘Too late.’

Stirring stuff.

My favourite MLK quote pretty much sums up my views on how the Labour party should move forward to meet the challenges of today. It is this:

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Please excuse me for clumsily connecting this quote with an issue King was clearly not thinking of.  But like many others, I feel it is no longer good enough for a Labour government simply to redistribute money to the less well-off via the welfare state. We must dare to think bigger. Too often I have heard good Labour people talk about the need to engage with ‘areas of social deprivation’ and people living in ‘impoverished communities’ without them seeming to consider the key point. There should be no areas of social deprivation in 21stcentury Britain. We must not give up and view poverty (of ambition, opportunity and wealth) as just a fact of life for some people living in some areas.



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