I read or listen to Brother Cornel’s bitter comments and finally found some sunshine! Merci Renford!!!

King would be proud if we used our transformative powers for good: Opinion published in The Daily Bulletin with the author’s permission

By Professor Renford Reese

He would be proud that a multi-ethnic coalition elected Barack Obama to a historic second term as president. He would be proud of the way we consistently rally together during crisis events. But he would be disappointed that we have not taken more strides to embrace his concept of the “Beloved Community,” a community that is non-judgmental and non-discriminatory – a compassionate society where love trumps hate. King would note that the inherent problem in America is that we do not practice what we preach.

King would weep over the tragedy in Sandy Hook. He would be saddened that the U.S. gun murder rate is about 20 times the average of other developed countries. He would be disgruntled that there is a lack of care for the mentally ill, the homeless and the desperately poor in this country.

King would be disappointed that our inner cities have not improved since his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. And although nobody discusses it, he would be disappointed that our suburbs are just as dysfunctional as our inner cities. In politics, King would surely be disappointed in the constant gridlock, bickering and ideological mudslinging.

Pastor Rick Warren recently stated, “I don’t know what his (Obama) biggest accomplishment would be. I really don’t know that. My biggest disappointment is the disunity. President Obama ran saying, `I’m going to be a unifier,’ and our nation is


more divided than ever before. I think our nation is more divided than any time since the Civil War. That’s disheartening.”
Contrary to what Warren believes, President Obama reflects the unifying spirit of King, which is why he won his re-election in a landslide. What other public figure in this country is more of a unifier than the president? Romney, Gingrich, Boehner, McConnell? What are those critical of the president doing to heal our divide?

Today’s politicians embrace terms such as public service and the public good. On paper, their mission is to reach out to all Americans irrespective of race, creed or color. Their principles, in theory, are in lockstep with King’s.

The difference between King and our current politicians is that King practiced what he preached. What he put on paper was manifested in his actions. What has become the hallmark of our current politicians in this country is a subterranean arrogance, insensitivity and callousness toward each other and the American people. They continue to embrace noble principles but ignoble practices.

In our representative democracy we expect our leaders to be role models.

Currently, they are not. If politicians in the United States could come to realize that King’s dream was ultimately about putting into practice what America has always had on paper, we would be a better nation.

Renford Reese, professor of political science and director of the Colorful Flags program at Cal Poly Pomona
Renford Reese, professor of political science and director of the Colorful Flags program at Cal Poly Pomona

On King’s holiday, we should pause, reflect, and ask ourselves: at home, in school, in the workplace, in our communities, and in legislative assemblies, what are we doing to live up to King’s noble vision?

King’s dream was about each American doing their part in embracing the Beloved Community. Whether it is the middle school student that steps up to stop the school bully; the high school jock that confronts homophobia; the teacher that believes in, and inspires, all of her students, or the politician that reaches across the aisle and says enough is enough, we all have the power to be King-like.

We all have the power to make our communities and the world a better place.

Reflecting on our transformative power should be the theme of the King holiday. Acting on our transformative power should be our life’s mission.

That would make King proud.

Renford Reese, Ph.D., is a political science professor at Cal Poly Pomona. He is the author of five books and the founder/director of the Prison Education Project, http://www.PrisonEducationProject.org.

OTHER GOOD READINGS (and of course it doesn’t mean that Cornel West isn’t worth reading, quite the contrary, I love the guy, just not his stand towards President Obama, no matter how understandable his position is…):


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