Why is universal health care, which is commonplace around the world, so hard to achieve in the United States? Why are we unable to overcome a market-based system that leads to a hundred thousand unnecessary deaths each year?
The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by Governor Mike Pence last week, is one of the most biased pieces of state legislation we've seen in our modern era. The fact that it is cloaked in the name of religious freedom is particularly offensive to me as a member of the clergy who has been engaged in ministry and social justice work my entire life.
Once more, we must courageously embrace Nonviolence 365, which is based on my father's nonviolent philosophy and methodology, as the answer to the "crucial political and moral questions of our time," and not as a mere response to incidents but as a lifestyle and a force for good that permeates our culture, including our media and entertainment.
How does a citizen protect himself against a police officer's tendency to shoot first and ask questions later, oftentimes based only on their highly subjective "feeling" of being threatened? The short answer is you can't.
Many Jews fought side-by-side with Blacks during the civil rights movement. In Washington, when Dr. King reminded us that every child should be judged by the content of their character in his "I Have a Dream" speech, it was Rabbi Joachim Prinz who preceded him on the podium.
We often portray life within these moralistic extremes -- good people versus bad people, instead of people who do good things or people who do bad things.
As memorable as the hours spent supporting Civil Rights on the Bridge, was John's and my walk down Selma's main street. Boarded shops, deserted buildings, devastation of the landscape and cityscape formed the scene -- as it does in so many other cities.
History shows that liberals need radicals. We need radicals because drastic change against entrenched evil and concentrated power requires personal bravery to the point of obsession. It requires a radical sensibility to look beyond today's limits and imagine what seems sheer impossibility within the current social order. And sometimes it's necessary to break the law to redeem the Constitution. No great social change in America has occurred without radicals, beginning with the struggle to end slavery. Causes that now seem mainstream began with radical, impolite and sometimes civil disobedient protest. But here's where the story gets complicated. Radicals also need liberals. Liberals can write policy proposals to their hearts' content. But unless they are backed by radicalism on the ground, they are playing in a sandbox.
What a terrible irony that in this year of celebration of the Selma marches we are witnessing the resurgence of overt law enforcement brutality and injustice in Ferguson, Cleveland, New York City, and elsewhere, reminding us how far we still have to go. The continuing protests against unequal justice under the law by those enjoined to protect all of us and all of our children after the deaths of teenager Michael Brown, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and others are a wake-up call about the deeply embedded systemic racism still alive in America. Each of us has a responsibility to root it out and stop it in its tracks.
Last Saturday, during the 50th anniversary event of "Bloody Sunday," I spent many hours just looking at that bridge. The words that kept coming to me were "courage" and "resistance." My question became: What bridge we will now have to cross?
Let the anniversary of Selma inspire all of us to rededicate ourselves to the sacred conversations and actions needed for the pursuit of justice.
We are hearing a great deal from those in our society who would like to turn the clock back on voting rights, civil rights, and the right to peaceably assemble. But I believe there are many more people of good will among us than various news reports might lead us to believe. Hopefully, more of them will raise their voices in continuance of our search for "a more perfect Union."
Yes, we crossed the bridge half a century ago, and we crossed it again in a reenactment with the president this weekend, but 50 years from now at the 100th anniversary, we will be judged not by whether we brought a Black president to the bridge.
Clearly written and brimming with telling historical details and sharp insights, The Fierce Urgency of Now is essential reading not only for those who want to understand the Great Society but for everyone concerned with how it might be preserved or expanded.
The sad reality is that -- despite the considerable progress made in the last five decades -- we are still fighting to ensure voting rights for every American.
Quoting Amos may seem arcane and irrelevant, but it is clear and relevant, as it throws light on a perennial controversy, now rendered acute, in American life.