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Wings For The King

As of now, Russia is amassing troops along the Ukraine border in an anticipated invasion into that country. Not since the Cold War has Russia built its military to such numbers. Russia has enough troops and equipment at Ukraine’s borders to invade the whole country, according to top Pentagon officials. Russia has assembled more than 100,000 troops at Ukraine’s borders. U.S. officials estimate that 35,000 Americans are in Ukraine, including 7,000 people who have registered with the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, the capital. a Russian invasion has the potential to start a conflict between Moscow and the West that could quickly escalate.

Russia's silent but obvious aggressions come while North Korea has resumed investing heavily in its nuclear armament and China has developed hypersonic missiles that directly threaten the U.S. The world is quickly becoming a scary place. Of course, any Sunday school teacher will inform you that in the latter of days, there will be wars and rumors of wars. But does it have to be this way?

In one of his many treasure chests of quotes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, "I definitely feel that the development and use of nuclear weapons should be banned. It cannot be disputed that a full-scale nuclear war would be utterly catastrophic". On yet another occasion he stated, "The choice today is nonviolence or nonexistence. The alternative to disarmament may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation". It has been more than three-quarters of a century since Dr. King professed these powerful words. Much has changed since then, However, much still remains the same.

Two years ago, in the response of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Amahd Arbury, which many concluded were racially motivated, rioters and looters took to the streets to protest while causing millions of dollars' worth of property damage nationwide. This also prompted the call for the removal of statues and monuments dedicated to Confederate soldiers of the Civil War. Tensions were already running high leading into a tumultuous and hotly contested Presidential election, exasperated by the national shutdown/stay in place order of the Corona Virus of 2020. Democracy was in peril as tens of thousands stormed the walls of the nation's Capital in an ill-fated attempt to overturn the election. As the world watched, America it seemed had become the very despotic banana republic that it has so labeled many other nations. Dr. King's words now ring true unlike never before when he stated, "We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools".

The MLK Holiday is perhaps the most misunderstood holiday of the year. For many, the holiday took on the term of a holiday exclusively for blacks when in fact, Dr. King was a champion for civil rights, not merely black rights. Dr. King sought equality and human rights initially for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and all victims of injustice through peaceful protest. Because his message called for the universal brotherhood of man, to this day, many of his speeches and quotes have been translated into dozens of different languages. Dr. King came up in a time in which he saw and experienced virulent racism and unadulterated hate throughout society. Because of what he experienced during a time when blacks lives didn't matter, coupled with the unstableness.

America is at a serious crossroads. Violence is seemingly commonplace. Mass shootings at public venues, even at schools do not rattle us the way that they once did. Murder and mayhem doesn't just dominate television, music, and film, but it has permeated into our psychology to the point where we are not only are seemingly immune to it, but lust for it. The top of the hour news reports on many local news outlets routinely inform us on local homicides, which have reached all-time highs nationally. There were approximately 20,726 gun deaths in 2021 according to the Gun Violence Archives. They recorded more gun deaths than any previous year. The total number of mass shootings in the U.S. in 2021 was 693. The 2021 United States homicide rate is estimated to be nearly as high as it was in 25 years ago, when more than 19,600 people were murdered nationwide, according to statistics shared in a recent report. The murder rate was estimated to be 6.9 murders per 100,000 people in 2021 which was just 0.5 lower than the 1996 murder rate of 7.4, according to FBI data. In 2020, murders in the United States spiked more than 27 percent, the largest percentage increase in at least six decades according to German Lopez of the New York Times.

Shootings are historically concentrated in impoverished, minority communities. In a typical U.S. city, a small segment of neighborhoods account for most of the violence.

Most homicide victims are Black. And Black Americans were eight times as likely to be murder victims in 2020 as their white counterparts.

What the world needs most is love. One only needs to read daily posts on social media, particularly those of contemporary hot button controversial issues. What we very often see are not just emotionally charged written rhetoric but hate and anger filled messages. If the opinions of some don't reflect those of others, there is often a heated exchange of vitriol resulting in what we now refer to as, cancel culture. Cancel culture is the complete anti-thesis of intellectual democracy for it seeks to erode and often punish the free exchange of ideas and information simply due to opposing views.

Dr. King would not have sided with cancel culture. Dr. King understood the power of words. In all of his epic speeches: love, compassion, perseverance, patience, and humanity are the central themes. All of these characteristics are what led him to being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and rightfully so. In these perilous times, the words of Dr. King are more relevant and necessary than ever before". I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality...I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word", he once stated. What Dr. King was merely doing was giving America a sese of hope and an alternative while in a world gripped with the uncertainty. Dr. King's America saw a nation bogged down by the Cold War, pulling the strings of proxy wars such as the Bay of Pigs incident, Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam as well as the peak of racial tensions in the U.S.

Dr. King's strategy of non-violence was beginning to fall on the deaf ears of young adolescents. Despite the non violent and peaceful The five day Watts riot in August, 1965 saw 34 people die and a thousand injured; and the 1966 Detroit riot, 43 deaths. The 1960s saw the most serious and widespread series of race riots in the history of the United States. Major riots occurred in Birmingham, Alabama , in 1963; New York City in 1964; Watts in Los Angeles, California , in 1965; and Chicago, Illinois, in 1966. The deeper causes of the riot were high levels of frustration, resentment, and anger that had been created among African Americans by unemployment and underemployment, persistent and extreme poverty, racism and racial segregation, police brutality, and lack of economic and educational opportunities. Some fifty-five years later, these troubling issues are still prevalent, despite unprecedented material, educational, and technological growth well into the 21st century.

Even during Dr. King's time on this earth, when the American family was much more intact than our current contemporary times, he saw the impending breakdown coming. Most homes had two parents and the word divorce came with shame. However, he saw the post-World War II surplus and suburbanization birth materialism and consumption on a scale never seen before in this nation. Prior to WWII, America was gripped in the clutches of the Great Depression. After WWII, the United States enjoyed a massive national surplus. This in turn, gave birth to the American consumer culture and suburbanization of America. Television and automobile sales skyrocketed in the 1950s. With the massive growth in suburban populations, automobiles were needed more than ever, and were within reach for many first-time buyers. Families of all income brackets were buying televisions at a rate of five million a year. Between 1945 and 1949, Americans purchased 20 million refrigerators, 21.4 million cars, and 5.5 million stoves. Consumerism was viewed as patriotic. Critics of consumerism such as Dr. King who advocated piety and restraint saw materialism as the road to decadence.

Immediately after the end of WWII in 1945, Americans were ready to resume their life after a decade and a half of poverty and war. Young couples were marrying and having children at unprecedented rates, thus ushering in the "Baby Boom Generation". Armed with the Montgomery G.I. Bill of Rights, these young families were now able to purchase their own homes, often located in rapidly expanding suburbs. In the first four years after WWII, Americans moved into over one million new homes annually. Spending on furniture and appliances increased by 240%. The Federal government provided a critical stimulus to suburbanization through policies that revolutionized home building and lending, subsidized home ownership, and built critical suburban infrastructure, such as the new interstate highway system. This drove up the need to purchase a vehicle.

Initially automobiles were hand crated which caused them to be so expensive. However, with the mass production of cars due to Henry Ford's assembly line process, cars became more affordable. Nearly three decades later, the majority of Americas could own one. The status symbol of merely owning a car was gone, but owning a particular make and model became the new status symbol. Owning an automobile was viewed as the ideal symbol of America. Dr. Martine Luther King Jr saw the potential dangers of this and the imparting of such materialism on the children - the Baby Boomer Generation. Dr. King proclaimed that, “Our children need our presence, not our presents.” Dr. King also once stated when he began to notice a parenting gap between parents and their offspring in the 1950's, stemming from paycheck over parenting. He went into further detail in one of his iconic speeches given in 1958 entitled, "Paul's Message to American Christians"

It was in this speech that he spoke against exploitative capitalism, spiritual arrogance, racial segregation and hatred, and self-righteous egotism. The solution was the universal brotherhood of pure Christian love, that sought after God first and foremost. This is soundly based upon the scripture that reads, "seek ye first the Kingdom of heaven..." In this very profound speech, given at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, on November 4, 1956 Dr. King forces the audience to seriously and meticulously examine their Christian walk. He further places all aspects of America under a microscope and exposes the many flaws and contradictions of the nation. Even in a 1956 society, Dr. King questioned America's technological feats and the dependency upon it as well as the arrogance and moral decay that it provoked.

"But America, as I look at you from afar, I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It seems to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific progress. You have allowed the material means by which you live to outdistance the spiritual ends for which you live. You have allowed your mentality to outrun your morality." These words are just as relevant and condemning in 2022 as they were nearly three-quarters of a century ago. Dr. King went on further to profess that, " Through your scientific genius you have made of the world a neighborhood, but through your moral and spiritual genius you have failed to make of it a brotherhood." Through the World Wide Web of the internet, particularly social media, the world truly is a neighborhood. However, hate filled messages and videos are exchanged daily, revealing that man's immorality not only is still existent, but often encouraged ad rewarded. Dr. King prophetically saw back then, the damaging effects that gross materialism and consumption would have on the unborn generations.

Studies of children exposed to violent media have shown that they may become numb to violence, imitate the violence, and show more aggressive behavior. Younger children and those with emotional, behavioral or learning problems may be more influenced by violent images. Research has been mixed on the connection between gaming and aggressive behavior, but one new international study suggests that yes, violent video games may affect some children's behavior over time.

Over the decades, music lyrics have become increasingly more explicit in their references to drugs, sex, and violence, particularly in certain genres. Researchers from Iowa State University and the Texas Department of Human Services found that aggressive music lyrics increase aggressive thoughts and feelings, which may perpetuate aggressive behavior and have long-term effects, such as influencing listener's perceptions of society. Much of todays modern pop culture is inundated with sex, violence, and crass behavior. Children are one third of our population and all of its failure. Neil Postman and former President John F Kennedy both stated that, “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. Many view the United States as a nation in decline, democracy in peril. We now see partisan politics at the forefront of everything from COVID-19 mask mandates to voter's rights. To Baby Boomers and even many Generation X-ers much of contemporary American society seems in great contrast to that of three decades ago. The nuclear family has been threatened by handheld technology and devices. Oddly, a family of four can be in the same household, but interact so uncommunicatively.

This country, at its current pace and course, will find it very difficult to remain the imminent leader of democracy in the world if a drastic cultural change is not undergone. Many of Dr. King's speeches and philosophies as just as relevant today as they were decades ago. One in such particular is the "Letter From A Birmingham Jail" in which he rebutted the criticisms of the Birmingham religious right and several local clergymen. As evidenced by the 2020 election, even religion has become politicized as religious duty was predicated upon political party and presidential candidate of choice.

In his "Paul's Letter To American Christians" speech, he clearly had a disdain for denominational bickering. He advocated a unified body of Christ among the world's citizens and it was only then would we see citizens joined in a real brotherhood of peace. Very similar sentiments were echoed in a sermon Dr. King entitled, "A Knock At Midnight" in 1967. "The church must be reminded that it is not the master, or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”, Dr. King professed. Dr. King concluded his speech that Sunday morning by stating, "I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.


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