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The Revival: Remembering Dr. King’s Revolution of Values

posted on: Apr 6, 2017

BY: Al-Sharif Nassef/Contributing Writer

April 4 this week marked 49 years since the tragic assassination of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of America’s greatest revolutionaries. A faith leader and social justice activist at the forefront of the civil rights movement, he was shot on the balcony outside his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee by an alleged lone gunman.

The Arab American advance with the civil rights movement spans many decades. In the early 1950s, Syrian-American Ralph Johns, the first white man to join his local NAACP chapter, helped organize the “Greensboro Four” sit-in at a North Carolina lunch counter that helped spark waves of racial equality protests and sit-ins throughout the country.

Years later, Dr. James Zogby helped transform an organization started by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into the Rainbow Coalition, and nearly got the first black man, Rev. Jesse Jackson, nominated to run for president of the United States.

To carry forth Dr. King’s torch in resistance and solidarity today, Arab-Americans can him justice by remember his words and keep advancing the movement.

Exactly one year before his death, Dr. King delivered a historic speech at The Riverside Church in New York.

Delivered amidst unending wars on communism, Dr. King made a pivot toward the peace movement, forever binding it with people’s movements for civil rights and social justice. He publicly denounced the immoral war in Vietnam, questioning why hundreds of billions of dollars were being spent on death and destruction overseas when millions of Americans lived in deep poverty. That day, Dr. King preached, “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

At the heart of Dr. King’s message, and the call echoing across the United States today: let us revive a “true revolution of values” to get the core of the injustices that plague society today.

This revolution revives the spirit that connects all human beings in light of revolutionary conscience, love, and human fellowship.

It is a revolution within each of us, where life revolves not around the ego’s desire, nor mere profit motive. Rather, in knowing the tragic state of our humankind’s being, we behold the love of God with compassion for his creation ought drive our work and daily deeds, as well as our social and political action.

Herein, love is the heart of solidarity, and like Dr. King said, the suffering of another beloved being is each of our suffering. In a divided world, Dr. King called for unity in its deepest sense, knowing that we are all one eternally connected life force under God. Thus, the Revolution of Values creates “a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation.”

He warned America: “when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Where mass media culture prides the squandering of wealth to create illusion of class, promotes the pleasure of the ego’s lustful sensation, favors the machine over the power of creative man, and champions violence at the expense of the wellbeing of God’s earth and sisters and brothers in humanity, we are clearly in need of a revolution of values.

Where people are disempowered by a rigged political system with earth in disarray—corruption, ecological and environmental crises, constant warfare, tremendous wealth inequality, and tyranny—society’s misplaced values have put the condition of humanity itself in jeopardy.

Hope remains within each of our potentials to embrace a revolutionary spirit, as articulated by Dr. King. That means working for Beyond ourselves; it means working with Love and in Light of it. It means creating real local solutions while pressuring the powers the top.

Where the power of love, God, and friendship with fellow humans compel us to uphold each others’ sacred values we live this Revolution of Values. Where we strive with our work to ensure this earth and its social and political systems maintain sustenance, peace, justice, beauty, and compassion for its living beings, we live this Revolution of Values. Doing so is morally right at it makes life better for all of us.

This Spirit sees no distinction between race, socioeconomic status, or physical condition. Around the country, our revolution rekindles with hope to empower creativity into a positive conscience, bringing values of equality, peace, and justice into being.

In the United States, Arab Americans have grown successful at uniting across ethnic, national, and religious divides to organize as a force for equality, political, and economic power. Carrying forth that power in light of Dr. King’s memory, we must channel that power not for ourselves, but to strengthen the shared values and virtues that bind us under God to humanity’s shared spirit and earth. Over the next year, all our communities have potential to bring this revolution of values to life through the ways we think, love, create, invest, and advocate for sustainable peace and justice—remembering that absent a clean earth, neither is possible.

Al-Sharif works for civil rights and social justice with CAIR-Philadelphia. You can follow him on twitter @alsharifpasha