Martin Luther King Jr On Materialism And A Revolution In Values #BlackHistoryMonth

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“We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

This Martin Luther King, Jr quote has been a popular one for this site. It’s been an extraordinary gem hidden in one of King’s more famous speeches that isn’t his super famous speech although it still contains a dream. As I explained in QUOTE: Martin Luther King Jr On Environmentalism it’s been difficult to find a quote about the environment from the canon of Civil Rights Movement era heroes and sheroes. You can read about some possible reasons why there. I thought this quote was worth bringing back again on this blog though and here’s why.


[It was cool to come across this video with the image I put together in it. I’m hoping to just put some thoughts out there in hopes they may resonate with people.]

King had the foresight to address materialism in the extreme in his the late 60s. This quote comes his “Beyond Vietnam” speech on April 4, 1967. It’s from the part where says the U.S. and the West needs a revolution in values. So what of that need today? And what about those triplets: racism, extreme materialism, and militarism?

That revolution in values is still needed only now more urgently than before. Right after this quote King went on to say, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see than an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.” We are already seeing climate change refugees, the countries littered in e-Waste from computers in the U.S., and more. True compassion is still needed to restructure a system that makes the burdens we help place on our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world a thing of the past. Oh, and those triplets are huge and fatter than ever, devouring what we say we hold dear while it is demanded that we never speak of their existence.

I’m not one for fantasizing about what MLK would do if he were alive today, but if he were I don’t think he would’ve given up or given up hope. Then again, if he were alive today wouldn’t he have been Martin Luther King, Jr we still quote today, would he?

He did his job. This work is ours now.

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