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Posted by Sapphire Blue in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Jun 28th 2007, 12:21 AM
Martin Luther King: Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence
delivered 4 April 1967 at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

"True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

~ excerpt ~

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin...we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. 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.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.


We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

The full speech (text & audio) is available @

The war on poverty is winnable
Economists paint a gloomy picture of poverty in America. But lawmakers can make a difference.
By David R. Francis | Columnist

The United States could dramatically reduce poverty – if it really wanted to. Instead, the number of American households in severe poverty (those with incomes less than half that of the official poverty level) has been growing, not shrinking.

"Poverty persists, not because we lack effective antipoverty policy options, but because we lack the political will to expand our policies," says Sheldon Dan­ziger of the National Poverty Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty with the goal of lifting the "forgotten fifth" of the nation above the official poverty line. His economists predicted success by 1980 as the benefits of economic growth were shared over the years.

It didn't happen...


"There's rising public concern about growing inequality," notes Peter Edelman, chair of a poverty task force at the Center for American Progress, a "progressive" think tank in Washington. His group will report later this month with recommendations for reducing poverty. "We know a lot more today what to do," he says.

Nor would a serious antipoverty effort be inordinately expensive, he says. Its costs could be met by ending the "unnecessary and undeserved tax cuts" given the wealthiest Americans this decade, he claims. Winding down the Iraq war would also free funds to help the poor.


Several observers speculate that a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president, should that occur, would be more likely to tackle poverty. "It takes presidential leadership," says Mr. Danziger. "It's not going to happen on its own."

Continued @

John Edwards: On Issues of Race, War and Poverty in America, Silence is Betrayal – And Dreaming is Not Enough
Date: Tuesday, January 16, 2007
By: John Edwards, Special to

Sunday, I was honored to stand in the very space where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “Beyond Vietnam” speech 40 years ago at the Riverside Church in New York. With the full force of his conscience, his principles and his love of peace, King denounced the war in Vietnam, calling it a tragedy that threatened to drag our nation down to dust.

Today, the forces of war and poverty threaten the fabric of our nation again, and, as Dr. King put it then, there comes a time when silence is a betrayal -- not only of one’s convictions or country, but also of our deeper obligations to one another and to the brotherhood of man.

Dr. King’s call to service and to action couldn’t be more appropriate today. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast a little more than a year ago, we were all confronted with stark and vivid reminders of the enduring poverty that exists throughout America. I will never forget the faces and stories of the people I met when I toured evacuation shelters in Baton Rouge shortly after Katrina hit.

We saw Americans, largely divided by race, abandoned by their own government; a vivid depiction of the need for serious change to improve the lives of people living in poverty in this country.


In the end, it comes down to what Dr. King once called “life’s most persistent and urgent question: What are you doing for others?” What are we doing to strengthen this great nation of ours? What are we doing to give every American a chance to share in the great blessings of America? What are we doing to build a more secure and livable world?

In the end, we know these are the only questions worth asking -- and answering them is the only work worth doing. The world needs to see us doing it. And we’re going to do it, together, with our whole hearts.

- - - - - - -

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) is a candidate for U.S. president.

Transformational Change For America And The World
Mar 15, 2007

Remarks as prepared for delivery
Manchester, New Hampshire

~ excerpt ~

And you all know that we are not leading the world in a way that lives up to the idea of America – or is good for us here at home.

What we used to call foreign policy has such a profound effect on our everyday lives that there really is no such thing as purely foreign policy anymore. Trade policies affect jobs and wages here and throughout the world. Energy policy affects climate change here and all over the world, and it impacts domestic and foreign security. Poverty is an issue for us here – I could talk about that all day long – but poverty is also an issue directly related to the rise of terrorism and our place in the world economy. A well-known politician from a neighboring state used to say that all politics is local. Today, all policy is local.

We are not going to solve these problems with the usual approaches. These challenges are too big, too connected, and too complicated to be answered with the same old politics of incrementalism. Meeting them requires more than just a new president—it requires an entirely new approach.


Our domestic problems are intertwined with our global challenges, and nowhere is this truer than at the nexus of global warming and energy independence.

Global warming is a problem that is here, now, and not going away. The United States must lead – lead smart, lead courageously, and lead by example.

It is time to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war. We need investments in renewable energy – more efficient cars and trucks – and a national cap on carbon emissions.


When we're serious about moral leadership at home, we have the standing to assert moral leadership in the world.

And I believe we can begin by leading in areas that – at first glance – might not seem directly related to our self-interest. I'm talking about global poverty, primary education. But I believe if you look closely, it's clear that these areas are in fact directly related to our present and future national security.

We know that terrorists thrive in failed states, and in states torn apart by internal conflict and poverty.

And we know that in many African and Muslim countries today, extreme poverty and civil wars have gutted government educational systems.

So what's taking their place? The answer is troubling – but filled with opportunity if we have the courage to seize it.

A great portion of a generation is being educated in madrassas run by militant extremists rather than in public schools. And as a result, thousands and thousands of young people who might once have aspired to be educated in America are being taught to hate America.

When you understand that, it suddenly becomes clear: global poverty is not just a moral issue for the United States – it is a national security issue for the United States. If we tackle it, we will be doing a good and moral thing by helping to improve the lives of billions of people around the world who live on less than $2 per day – but we will also begin to create a world in which the ideologies of radical terrorism are overwhelmed by the ideologies of education, democracy, and opportunity. If we tackle it, we have the chance to change a generation of potential enemies into a generation of friends. Now that would be transformational.

But the challenge is great – generational struggles require generational solutions – so we must meet the challenge with an audacious plan.

As President I would implement a four-point plan to tackle global poverty – and improve the national security of the United States:

First, we would launch a sweeping effort to support primary education in the developing world.

More than 100 million young children have no school at all, denied even a primary education to learn how to read and write. Education is particularly important for young girls; as just one example of the ripple effects, educated mothers have lower rates of infant mortality and are 50 percent more likely to have their children immunized.

As president, I will lead a worldwide effort to extend primary education to millions of children in the developing world by fully funding the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015. The U.S. will do its part by bringing education to 23 million children in poor countries, and we will ask our allies to step up and do the rest. It's not just good for our security; it's good for theirs.

Second, we will support preventive health care in the developing world.

Women and children bear the burden of poverty and disease in the developing world. Women in our poorest countries have a 10% chance of dying during childbirth. More than 10 million children die each year from preventable diseases. Many of these diseases are preventable with clean water and basic sanitation or affordable immunizations.

As president, I will convene a worldwide summit on low-cost investments in clean drinking water and sanitation. Under my plan, the U.S. will increase its investment in clean water six-fold.

Third, we can get to the root of global poverty by increasing opportunity, political opportunity and economic opportunity. Democratic rights allow poor citizens to force their countries to create more progressive laws, fight oppression and demand economic stability. Economic initiatives like microfinance and micro-insurance can spark entrepreneurship, allowing people to transform their own lives.

And fourth, I would appoint an individual in the White House, reporting directly to me, with the rank of a Cabinet member, to oversee all of our efforts to fight global poverty. Despite its importance to our national security, the United States still lacks a comprehensive strategy to fight global poverty. We need to embrace the vision of John F. Kennedy, who recognized that "the Nation's interest and the cause of political freedom require" American efforts to lift up the world's poor.


Nearly 70 years ago, another generation of Americans faced a world darkened by insecurity.

The storm clouds of fascism and totalitarianism were gathering over Europe and Asia. We were struggling to emerge from the depths of the Great Depression. And it was easy to think then that our problems at home were too big for us to try to tackle the problems mounting abroad.

Yet that generation of Americans saw in the challenges of their day not a cause for despair, but a call to greatness.

And they answered it. Not meekly, not uncertainly. But proudly, confidently, and with conviction. Because they had what we have – the idea of America. It's right here.

And in answering that call, not only secured freedom for the people of Europe and Asia – they laid the foundation for a new American economy that produced the greatest expansion of the middle class and the sharpest reduction of poverty in the history of the world.

They turned the 20th century into the American century.

Now it is our turn – to see the challenges we face with an unblinking eye and once again to answer the call.

Proudly, confidently, and with conviction

It is our responsibility. As Abraham Lincoln once called us, we are still the "last best hope of earth." If America does not lead, who will?

I believe we are up to the task. I am certain of it.

After all, I am an optimist. /


"I'm proposing we set a national goal of eliminating poverty in the next 30 years." - JOHN EDWARDS 08

Silence is Betrayal - JOHN EDWARDS 08

Ending Poverty in America

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