Monday 15 January is celebrated as Martin Luther King Day in the USA. 4 April will be the 50th anniversary of his assassination. In many respects, this commemoration is ironic considering King’s relationship to the “establishment”. King stood up for what he believed. That belief was religious and moral. It showed respect for other human beings. When politicians praise him, their words ring hollow, at least in my ears. They are the purveyors of inter-ethnic hatred and division. They seek votes on the basis of ethnic division. That certainly is true here, and in the USA, and there are few places where it is not true. It is these politicians and those who work for them who work against – and frequently assassinate – brave and moral people like King.
King practiced non-violent conflict transformation. There are few if any places where that is practiced today. Rather, guns and weapons are used to settle conflicts. Funds that could be used to free people from illness and poverty are used to kill and injure others.
King, and many other people, not only Afro-Americans, are victims of the trans-generational transmission of the trauma of slavery. That concept of such transmission is seldom recognized, let alone dealt with, anywhere. Yet, recognizing and dealing with it is essential for people to come to their full potential. Instead, people decry the violence and use police actions to try to suppress it. Of course, without treating it, it never will go away.
King also recognized that people need to take responsibility for themselves and for their societies. He certainly took such responsibilities. Yet, how many people do that now?
These issues, that is, high levels of traumatization, trans-generational transmission of trauma, and taking initiative and responsibility for one’s own life are acute problems in the regions in which we are working. 22 years after the war ended, no one here is recognizing this or doing anything about it. These issues also are enormous dangers with asylum seekers and refugees. They lead not only to individual distress but there are effects on entire societies, which leads inevitably to anxiety and violence. Lack of work on trauma and integration is thus dangerous, and those dangers are being ignored.
Again, King recognized this.
Thus, we have every reason to commemorate and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., not only on Monday but every day.