Monday, January 15, 2007

What Would He Say Now?

I was ashamed and a little embarrassed that I almost forgot what today is. I was checking at about and saw that there were some hockey games going on. I thought, that is weird, since afternoon games only happen on weekends or US Holidays. Then I realized that today is indeed a US Holiday. It is Martin Luther King Day!!!! To start this blog I am going to put up the single most famous speech of the 20th Century. Sure we've all heard it before, but just in case you haven't heard all 17 minutes of this amazing and inspirational oration, here goes:

Great isn't it?

I'm not nearly so presumptuous to bore you with some sort of tribute to the man, that's been done by far better people than I. Everyone of you has heard a list of his individual accomplishments, you all know enough about the Civil Rights Movement, and if you don't then here's the wikipedia entry to get you started.

But what I can't help but think about (and therefore blog about) is what on earth would he say now, 39 years after his assassination? We Westerners tend to see ourselves as very enlightened and modern. I really think that this could not be farther from the truth. Don't believe me? Well today in 2007 there are still country clubs in the American South where Dr. King's children could still not get into due to the colour of their skin, regardless of the content of their characters. The Canadian Government only just decided to finally allow people to marry whoever they want, and are one of only five countries in the world to allow that. Women still earn significantly less than their male counterparts. People's lifestyles and handicaps, gay and retarded respectively, are still used as insults by people. How is any of this fair? How is Freedom ringing?

(To any of the people in Section 23: I realize that I made a similar speech in Education and Schooling class a month or so ago. It's ok to plagiarize yourself, isn't it?)

It really scares me to see just how much everyone takes all of these injustices at face value. I was shocked the other day in my International Teaching Class, when we were having a debate on feminist issues around the world. People seemed to think that we in Canada have moved passed gender issues, and I really can't see how people think that. It was brought up that we have had a woman Prime Minister, something many countries can not say. Yet, if you look back Kim Campbell was never voted in by the Canadian people and is see by and large as a joke. A quick glance at the list of MPs shows that only 20% of them are women. Now maybe I notice this since I am in math, but that is an incredibly statistical significance. I felt the need to stand up for the oppressed women and was only met with support from one female in my class.

I have had similar conversations with people on racial and sexuality issues. What bothers me the most about it, is that these have by and large been conversations with education individuals. Teachers no less. People who have the power to influence the youth of the world and genuinely make a difference. Yet here so many people sit blinded to the social inequalities of our time.

Some may argue that "it is come a long way". Well sure, The Jim Crow Laws have been abolished, we do have Universal Suffrage, and many other large steps have been taken in the past half-century, but there is still a long way to go. Social change is not truly possible without a shift in the social conscious. People need to believe that minority support programs including the dreaded Affirmative Action, are indeed for the benefit of the society before it ever begins to benefit the society. Everyone needs to take some action for the cause of Social Justice, not just minorities, women, immigrants and homosexuals. Unless some straight white males take it on as well, then it is just a minority issue. What people need to realize is that the issues of the minority are the issues of everyone. You can always judge a society by how the majority treats its minorities. Right now we may be a head of many other countries in the world, but we still have a long way to go. It is never about comparing yourself to others but rather about comparing yourself to yourself and seeing that there is always room for improvement.

Here's hoping that it can improve and King's dream can finally become a reality.

Until next time,


1 comment:

McNutt said...

Not just the most famous speech of the 20th century, but argubly the best.

A welcome post, Mr. Russell.