If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, he would be happy with the progress America ha s made in race relations over the last 50 years – albeit there’s still more progress to be made – and the election of the first African-American President. Dr. King would not be happy however, that last year alone over 4 million people joined the ranks of the poor in this country and that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen.
Martin Luther King, Jr. believed that it’s the duty of every human being to help other poor fellow human beings so that they can live dignified lives. It is highly likely that Dr. King would not be too happy with anti-poor policies being put forth in Washington today and in particular the view of the poor by today’s Republican Party. A party that seems to believe that becoming impoverished is more often than not driven by a lack of motivation to help oneself, which is made worse by government aid/entitlements. A party that argues that government aid will disincentivize the individual from going out to find work.
A party that doesn’t appear to take into consideration it’s often very difficult for many of the poor to find work because of their environmental circumstances that don’t always provide for healthy social networking or good schools and/or occupation opportunities.
It is likely that Dr. King would have attributed the growing levels of poverty to factors such as the poor economy, lack of affordable housing, lack of good schools particularly in the poor and impoverished communities of color, and the lack of available resources necessary for teaching and developing basic skills required to apply for employment.
He would point to the corporate corruption and ethical misconduct that often takes advantage of the poor, uninformed, and unsuspecting. He would argue the poor deserve public aid to assist them as they move forward to break free of the social and educational boundaries of poverty.
Dr. King would have agreed that self-reliance is important but that humanitarianism, tolerance, equal rights for all are principles that are just as important.
Dr. King believed that it is the right thing to do to help all individuals, black or white, who are trying to survive with hopes of one day living the American dream.
Indeed, he believed that to help the poor and not leave them behind would make more sense for a more, inclusive, health ier and more productive society.
By Leo Kapakos