Lessons of Martin Luther King have been lost (Updated)

Sigh. The violence in Baltimore saddens me. It is all so damn sad. It doesn’t help Freddie Gray. It doesn’t help the protesters. It doesn’t help the City of Baltimore. 

Martin Luther King, after studying Ghandi’s methods and teachings, decided that nonviolence was the way to make a statement and continue to keep the moral high ground. Today, the people of Baltimor; the poor people of Baltimore, the youth of Baltimore, have lost the moral high ground. They can talk about poverty. They can talk about police brutality. All America will see is pictures of burning cars and innocent store owners crying about their looted stores. 

Baltimore could and should have been different. It is a city that has a black mayor. It is a city that has tons of black officers on its police force. It is a city that has a black police chief. Therefore, this wasn’t a black-white thing. This was an us-vs-them thing… or maybe it was a rich-vs-poor thing. I don’t know, but without the race thing in the way I thought that there was a chance for quick and thoughtful discussion leading to some real change. Fire, rocks and injured police officers have ended any thoughts of rapid anything. Progress is now going to be slow. Very slow. 

We must remember the lessons from those who have come before us, like Dr. Martin Luther King. The problems in the inner city aren’t new. We have tackled them before. The violence in the inner city isn’t new. We have tackled it before. The problems in our police force are not NEW!! We can fix these problems if we have the will.

David Simon, the creator of The Wire, wrote this today – 

But now — in this moment — the anger and the selfishness and the brutality of those claiming the right to violence in Freddie Gray’s name needs to cease. There was real power and potential in the peaceful protests that spoke in Mr. Gray’s name initially, and there was real unity at his homegoing today. But this, now, in the streets, is an affront to that man’s memory and a dimunition of the absolute moral lesson that underlies his unnecessary death.

6 Responses

  1. spencerwriter sure has, like the saying goes, if we don’t learn from the past we are bound to repeat it. Race relations is back tracking

  2. spencerwriter Exactly! #BalitmoreRiots Are a perfect example of that! Sad, so much effort thrown away by so few!

  3. Having
    been raised lower/working class myself, I understand TC’s argument (which is
    also where Malcolm started).  I deeply understand the experience of rage
    and frustration (on the white side of course, without race on top of that), of
    having suffered death by a thousand cuts until you can’t take it anymore.
     Those who go home to a warm bed and a full belly have the luxury of their
    TC is right about the wrong emphasis.  He was not justifying violence, in
    my mind.  He was saying the burden is on the other folks, not on those who
    suffer the outrage.  The mayor of Baltimore who said it was OK to destroy
    things did not do her job properly.  You cannot contain something if you
    have no boundaries.  So blame the mayor for letting it get out of hand.
    something like this happens again (and you know it will; this is an eruption of
    a boil with centuries-deep sources), we as a nation need to flood the zone with
    love.  Don’t wait for the riot and then tsk tsk.  Flood the zone with
    love, with services, with resources; open the gates wide to help that
    community.  There should have been free groceries, free bus passes,
    whatever those grieving neighbors and members of the beloved community needed.
     Flood the zone with love.  Don’t make it just about cops versus
    locals; the nation should respond in love.

  4. the problem isn’t the high ground. The problem is when you feel so broken you can’t reach the high ground.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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