Monday, January 17, 2011

Hard, Solid Thinking Needed

Whether you were aware of it or not, today, Monday is a holiday across the United States, a day to celebrate the wisdom and accomplishments of the civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King accomplished much during his much too brief lifetime, not the least of which included pressuring Congress and the President to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. He believed strongly in the concepts of non-violent resistance, and contrary to the recent display of ignorance by certain Pentagon officials, Dr. King would not likely have supported the current wars Americans find themselves in at this time.

In fact, he'd probably find the current state of our partisan, hateful rhetoric even more disappointing than the political climate of the civil rights era.

While it's disputed, even by King's own family, exactly why he was killed, what isn't in question is his long-standing record as a mediator, of being able to find common ground between people of highly disparate positions. His success as a intermediary was tied directly to his willingness to ask to the tough questions, and tackle the "hard, solid thinking" that he saw few others willing to tackle.

We see that same weakness in our lawmakers now. Unfortunately, we have far fewer persons of stature around, like Dr. King, to hold those who make our laws accountable for their actions.

For example, after a near assassination of a U.S. Congresswoman, a large number of our Federal representatives are willing to admit - off the record - that they'd be willing to reinstate the common sense restrictions of the assault weapons ban. Yet, because of their fear of the NRA and its power to affect elections, we see only a tiny handful of legislators willing to actually put forth legislation on that idea.

Things are no better at the state level.

As we mentioned briefly on Friday, Nebraska's Governor Heineman calls his next two-year budget proposal 'bold, innovative and strategic'. We see very little that is innovative or strategic about chopping Nebraska's state services into bits with a budgetary meat cleaver, while digging into the state's piggy bank in order to cover his budgetary backside.

Likewise, in Virginia and Maryland, the Governors of those states plan to either make small cuts or borrow money in order to achieve their own political goals - which, by itself may be fine. The problem is that while their own political goals may be accomplished, neither Governor's actions are likely to significantly handle the needs of their citizens.

We understand that today is a day where Americans are supposed to reflect on the accomplishments of Dr. King, and the growth of our own country towards a more color-blind society - and we agree with that concept wholeheartedly.

However, we also hope that Americans don't ignore the many other lessons Martin Luther King Jr tried to teach us - especially about tackling the difficult issues in life.
"Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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