Today is the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have taken time out in the past to write some other articles on this day, which I want to share before I go any further. Last year I wrote a post comparing the lives of Dr. King & Thurgood Marshall. In 2010, I asked What Would Dr. King Think. In 2009 I talked about what the King Legacy was to that point.

By now, I have written 17 post on Dr. King; this post will make #18. I tried to think of a way to honor Dr. King's memory today, but my mind went in a totally different direction. I'm not sure that a man in his 80s who had done all the things he did would necessarily be happy with some of what's going on in the world today. I say the world instead of just the United States because Dr. King really was a man of the world. But in this post I'm only going to talk about things in the US. And I came up with five things I'm going to briefly talk about that I don't believe he would be happy with in today's world.

The first thing he wouldn't be happy with is how people vote; rather, how they don't vote. One of the most important things that happened during the civil rights period was protesting for the right to vote. Yet, it's hard to get even 50% of the populace to go to the polls to vote. The percentages are even lower for black people, who seem to have forgotten that a lot of people died, took beatings, and went to jail so they have a right to vote. It seems people have forgotten that every so many years comes up another extension of the civil rights bill which gives people the right to vote.

The second thing he wouldn't be happy with is the proliferation of the use of what we lovingly call the N-word. Now, I have to make a distinction between political and in general use of the word. People in the black community have always used this word going back into the 1800s. Over time, the meaning has changed and the way it's used has changed in the community. It's always been considered derogatory for people outside of the community to use it, but these days I can see how some people would be confused when a lot of the music they buy has this word being used over and over. You can't watch a documentary without the word coming up if there are any black people in it. I don't see the word going away, but I wish there was a lot more responsibility from those who don't seem to care as to how and when they use it; I bet Dr. King would agree.

The third thing he wouldn't be happy with is how people talk to each other. It seems that civil discourse has taken on what many people have made a negative phrase called "political correctness". If you've ever seen even one reality TV show, you realize that people seem to not be able to go even a minute without uttering some kind of curse word. This isn't just something that TV made up; it seems people talk like this all the time now. There used to be a courtesy where people didn't talk like this when there were women around, or when they were older people around, and those conditions seem to have disappeared.

Since I don't have kids, I don't know if that kind of language is prevalent in school, but based on a couple of clips of the movie about bullies that I've seen on TV I have a feeling that if it's not happening around the teachers it still happening a lot in school. Personally I don't like it, and I wonder if it's because I'm getting older and lament for the old days, and yet I remember that kids my age talk like that, and of course people in the military and people of other professions talk like that as well. But even the Mafia members chose their words carefully when members of the opposite sex or their elders were around. I don't think Dr. King would appreciate the lack of common respect for others that there seems to be these days.

The fourth thing I don't think Dr. King would like is the inequality of employment and unemployment. The national average for unemployment seems to have gone down lately, but the unemployment rate for minorities is still too high. In some areas of the country, it's around 20 to 25%; that's just incredible. When you look at the Fortune 500 companies, there's maybe 10 total minorities and women who are in the lead positions. In organizations across the country, including hospitals, there are more minority workers but very few in leadership positions. In sports, there are a lot of athletes of color but very few in management. This means in many areas the doors have been opened, probably begrudgingly, but the glass ceiling is actually gotten higher and more exclusive. There was a commercial in the late 60s which used to have a black man saying "all I need is a chance". I believe Dr. King would look at that phrase now and believe it's not enough.

The fifth thing I believe Dr. King would be depressed about is the general lack of apathy when it comes to most causes. Although we have seen a little bit of activism as it pertains to the Trayvon Martin tragedy in Florida and the Tea Party movement of 2010, in general when there is a cause it's either not orchestrated all that well or it's not really for the common good. The Occupy Movement from last year seem like it had a goal, but it was unfocused and in the end really didn't mean anything. The yearly G12 Summit meetings draw a lot of protesters, but if you got 10 protesters in the room and asked them what their gripe was each person would have a different answer.

There are pockets of activity in this country, but for the most part we've become a very apathetic society who worries more about ourselves than for other people. Initially Dr. King and didn't set out to become a civil rights leader, but when needed he stepped up to the cause and gave his life for it. I can't say that I have found a cause than I'm willing to give my life for, but I have volunteered for a few things and I have given some money to a few things, and though I think my contribution helps, it's nothing like what there was in the 60s. That may or may not be a good thing overall, but I think Dr. King would be in a bit of dismay.

I actually have some other things on my mind concerning this, but I think I've said enough for reflection. We honor the anniversary of this date, and still hope that the things Dr. King advocated for me one day actually come together in the way he hoped it would.