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Me and Marty

I very famously had a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr hanging as a centerpiece in my living-room throughout much of my 20s. It was a great conversation piece. Why would I, a young white man in the 21st century have a painted picture of the reverend in a place of honor? Because he was my hero, too. Paraphrasing my favorite quote, “In the end, it is not the words of our enemies we will remember most, but the silence of our friends.” Growing up primarily in the south, with parents giving so many hours toward paychecks that never covered the bills no matter how meager our abodes, our list of demands, his words spelled out everything that I saw and felt. The people’s march he was organizing in his final months was Occupy Wall Street 40+ years ahead of schedule. I have no doubts it was a federal spook who really gunned him down, because no federal spook anywhere ever gave a flying about equality. I’d even say that people in general today are less likely to want real equality than the people in King’s era. Racial, social or anything else, everybody wants dominance for their personal favorite flavor.

Self-branded socialists in the USA of today’s world wouldn’t really give him the time of day, were he still making white men in suits sweat. American socialists tend to still want their video games. They want to dwell in the fanfare as though video gaming were a subculture, as opposed to a marketing agenda. There are self-described brilliant socialists right now who cannot go a single hour without referencing by tweet some inane, retro pop culture trash with all the reverence of a biblical passage. Socialist politicians in the USA applauded for quoting corporate-owned IP, and socialist-leaning journalists here today who find no ironies in depending almost exclusively on virtual networks which cannot get through a week free of a privacy scandal. King’s ideas didn’t click because they looked good on a t-shirt or made for a neat meme. Yet the sharing or debating of beliefs today rarely goes any deeper than a fast double take aimed only at unearthing the sexuality of an elevator pitch. Fight that and you get branded as a purple prose auteur. Or a crazy drunk.

Or old-fashioned.

King wasn’t saintly. He probably did cheat on his wife, more than once and with more than one partner. He wasn’t always logical either, as I personally am more than willing to indulge in any variety of non-lethal force, whereas his beliefs confined him to not speaking the same language as those who most needed to meet with change.

But the fact remains that the words and ideas he shared wholeheartedly needed to be said and said aloud, and though he was killed for saying such things, he surely had so much more left to be said. When I would get good and stoned and stare at that old portrait of mine, til the colors would blend and lines went formless, the image would appear as a child’s hand. And that is how I view the man. As powerful a figure as he was, peaceful or not, he was a child’s hand; baby fat able to grasp age-old truths which escape adults leading conventionally respectable lives, but not yet worked into shape enough to make the fist necessary to knock those truths back into existence. He was never given the chance to journey any further. Our society that expelled him has, and it has nothing to show for it but a broad expansion of liquidating life for profit. Diplomatic logicians are bound to get knifed in favor of arms contracts and hip hop singles with even bigger burns. I’m not belittling King’s life experiences, but his belief that peaceful progress was possible, was literally his downfall.

And the self-declared socialists today who treat what they feel is the wrong pronoun usage on par with death threats, are themselves clearly too self-focused to have cares to spare for everyone that King was truly regarding, and that much less capable themselves of necessarily employing force against those actually trying to kill them.

It is because I am neither a socialist or a Christian, that I can recognize in King all the dreams that still haven’t honestly come true, but so desperately need to. Contrasted with so many of his most vocal fans today who only apply the term “need” to matters which have as much in common with life or death desperation as they do any other promotional jingle.

My mom lives in government housing, being the only handicapped-accessible apartment she can afford across several counties. As an example for how difficult life already was in this community, the lead maintenance man for that HUD office hung himself a few months ago. Because of the current shutdown of the federal government, the women in this HUD office calculate they can continue working without pay no later than Valentine’s Day. If federal congresspersons are still not being made to sweat, then they will be forced to close this office, as many smaller HUD offices around the country have already quietly done. Food stamp recipients are with little attention getting their February refills a month early, because elements of the government are positive to be either still in shutdown mode or in an even worse scenario 6 weeks from now. When problems like these exist all around us weirdos living most of our lives offline, then who in the holiest of fucks cares about what toys you wish you could buy?

Probably not MLK Jr. I’d bet your life on it.