“We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.”
When Martin Luther King Jr. presented this choice to the nation in his powerful speech “Beyond Vietnam” — a speech he delivered exactly a year before he was assassinated — he was referring to the Cold War arms race and the possibility that the United States and the Soviet Union would kill us all in a nuclear holocaust. He implored us to choose peace, which for King meant that we needed to address the deep “malady within the American spirit” — namely, our commitment to the “giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism.” This commitment — this sickness — not only drove our arms race and the Vietnam War, King contended, but it also made us a nation of people willing to risk annihilation in order to preserve what was fundamentally an unjust way of life. For King, the escalating war in Vietnam, which he believed brought us closer to nuclear war, compelled us to choose — if we wanted to survive — a “person-oriented” nonviolent world marked by racial and economic justice over a “thing-oriented” world marked by war, racism and economic inequality.
[You can read the rest of this article in Buzzflash].