Following in the footsteps of his mentor, Gandhi, Dr. King continued to advocate for non-violence and peace, and spoke out against the Vietnam war, despite the advice of his many supporters. In the forty four years since his murder, it is apparent that King's legacy does not include his protests on the U.S. - Vietnam War.
But today, after 10 years at war in the Middle East, it is apparent that the U.S. is fighting another war on foreign land - and for what? We are again killing our young Americans and hundreds and thousands of innocent foreign civilians. Dr. King's opposition to the Vietnam War should be remembered. Did this man not lead the Civil Rights movement with peace?
Three weeks after Dr. King's assassination, his wife and widow, Coretta Scott King, gave a speech on behalf of her husband in New York City. Mrs. King read from some notes that Dr. King had scribbled in preparation for this appearance. He labeled them the "Ten Commandments on Vietnam". We could certainly apply these commandments to the current war in the desert.
Here are Dr. Kings "Ten Commandments on Vietnam", written shortly before his untimely death:
1. Thou shalt not believe in a military victory.
2. Thou shalt not believe in a political victory.
3. Thou shalt not believe that the Vietnamese people love us.
4. Thou shalt not believe that the Saigon government has the support of the people.
5. Thou shalt not believe that the majority of the South Vietnamese look upon the Viet Cong as terrorists.
6. Thou shalt not believe the figures of killed enemies or killed Americans.
7. Thou shalt not believe that the generals know best.
8. Thou shalt not believe that the enemies victory means communism.
9. Thou shalt not believe that the world supports the United States.
10. Thou shalt not kill.
True to his belief in peace, Dr. King spoke the truth to power. His courage and commitment were his weapons and that made him powerful than any war. One could only wonder what our world would be like today had he lived. What an amazing impact this man would have continued to have in our society, our nation, our world.
Whether you agree with what you are reading here or not, I think we can all agree that we don't want anymore our fathers, husbands, sons, wives, daughters, friends to die.
What we must remember Dr. King for the most is of this age-old wisdom: "Thou Shalt Not Kill". As a Baptist minster, he challenged us to rise above our leaders, our culture and our history. His words and teachings continue to challenge us to be something we have never been, a nation that is peaceful and just.
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