MLK

I’m not the type of person who likes to commemorate or memorialize the occasion of a day like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  For the most part, my observation of any holiday is whether I choose to take the day off and (at least since my son’s been in school) influenced by whether G has the day off.  Today he does.  I still plan on working.  However, this MLK quote was posted to Gizmodo the other day, and I found it poignant:

Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.

This is the serious predicament, the deep and haunting problem confronting modern man. If we are to survive today, our moral and spiritual “lag” must be eliminated. Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul. When the “without” of man’s nature subjugates the “within”, dark storm clouds begin to form in the world.

I’m not a religious person in the normal sense of the word.  But I’m always captivated by the passion, intensity and clarity in the words of African-American ministers and public speakers.  I’ve built blogs for a few and those were no exception.  They stand in stark contrast to my more conservative, traditional, tedious and boring Catholic upbringing.

This is something E and I talk about often; the idea that the more we, as a culture, become immersed and dependent upon technology, the more we lose a part of ourselves.  I’m willing to accept the digital replacements — however inferior they may be to their physical counterparts — for the things we interact with and love.  Books, records, tangible things that you can hold and experience and interact with in a primal way.  The idea that in 10 or 20 or 50 years every piece of media and information will be digitally encoded makes her blood run cold.  And I think MLK gets to the heart of the matter in the excerpt that Giz found; as we revel in our own mastery of technology and science, we lose the mystery and the magic of those things that science and technology has no bearing on, and, in turn, lose a piece of our soul.  The latest Kindle may be the best thing for reading books since reading books, but who can deny the joy of holding a book, feeling the tangible weight, maybe sneaking a peek at where your bookmark is in relation to the front and back covers.  As we move to a digital world, album covers — once large and beautiful, able to display a great amount of detail — grow smaller and smaller until they’re nothing more than 128 pixels square on an iPod or Zune.  I used to love to run my fingers across the spines of my dad’s record collection, pull one out, open it up, and stare at the inside art and read the lyrics.  That’s something you can’t do with iTunes, ignoring the loss of fidelity between actual lossless, mastered audio and encoded mp3s.  As we put on our 3D glasses and immerse ourselves in “the experience”, we lose the real experience of being in a theatre with a 30 foot high screen.

No, I don’t think MLK is talking about our media consumption, that’s just my angle on it.  Because I’m not going to get into a theological discussion about the state of our spiritual beings as a society — although I think he’s right about that, too.  I’m not sure where we stand with our moral being, although with the shootings in Arizona, the rise of conservative extremism over reasonable discourse and scientific fact (see: anyone who says the greenhouse effect is a hoax), and MLK’s own demise…well, there’s probably enough evidence there to support that, as well.

Despite my own natural inclinations, I’m thinking about Martin Luther King on Martin Luther King Day.  I’m thinking about how unfortunate it is for those of us left when visionaries are taken from us, and that the world that’s left in the wake is a bit darker without their light to guide us.

brought to tears

why is it that whenever i watch obama speak, i almost invariably get misty-eyed.

seriously, our president has an uncanny ability to weave many disparate things into a powerful and moving speech.  he is a speaker that is above and beyond anything i’ve seen in my lifetime.  maybe when malcom x or martin luther king jr. were around i could say the same about them, but we have no equivalent in recent history.  dubbya was not it.

i finally watched the full speech from last week about obama’s health care plan.  what struck me was just how much he was using ideas from republicans.  it made me wonder how anyone could say he wasn’t reaching across the isle — i got the impression that his attitude was, if you’ve got a good idea, let’s use it.  it doesn’t matter where it comes from.  following up on initiatives set out by john mccain and dubbya himself just made my respect for barack go two notches higher (and, in turn, my respect for g-dub and mccain).

seriously, where is all the opposition coming from?  you just need to listen to him talk to know it’s all misrepresentation.  why are people so threatened?  is it because he’s black?  because he’s intelligent?  because he has a goal in mind and will not stop until he reaches it?  heaven forbid we have a president with an actual agenda — one that doesn’t involve killing people.

if you haven’t seen the speech you need to.  the excerpt on the barackobama/whitehouse.gov site doesn’t do it justice.  barack obama doesn’t speak in sound bytes — his speeches are like lectures, but ones you want to hear, not those boring lectures from high school about economics.  i found the speech divided into 6 parts by TheRaceCard on YouTube ripped from C-SPAN.  (it’s now also available on barackobama.com) you should thank him.  here’s all 6:

We did not come to fear the future.  We came here to shape it.