Today, Governor Brownback will recognize Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by marching from the Judicial building to the Capitol. Later tonight, he will give the State of the State address. I wonder if the Governor understands that Dr. King’s work was focused on the rights of African-Americans, and on the plight of the poor. Before he was assassinated, Dr. King was planning a second march on Washington specifically for this purpose; the Poor People’s Campaign.
According to the Atlantic, Dr. King planned to build a tent city on the National Mall. I have often imagined a tent city on the Kansas Capitol lawn, to give visualization to the real need of our citizens. Brownback and other conservatives would like us to believe many stereotypes about people in poverty; they’re lazy parasites on the welfare system unwilling to work, or illegal immigrants stealing a piece of the pie, or drug addicts. They want us to believe that people who are poor are somehow less human, so that we will look down on their situation, instead of looking down on the greed that put them there.
The truth is that many people living in poverty do work. Many minimum wage restaurant workers are adults, with children, and not a teenage kid earning job experience. “There are no unskilled jobs. All jobs take skill, and intelligence, and experience.” -Barbara Ehenreich
The UN reports that education in sustainable development is a direct path out of extreme poverty, and yet our State leaders continue to support non-sustainable economic development.
“The enjoyment of security, freedom of speech, etc. carries with it the obligation to guide the course of government through the ballot.” –MLK August 1960
If you do not vote, you are not fulfilling your obligations as a citizen of this state. Because of non-voters, we the people of Kansas are disenfranchised; trapped in the same cycle of indifference and apathy due to our wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing lawmakers. Our current majority claims a love & faith for God, but their deeds tell a different story, a love and faith for Mammon.
The problems of poverty are exacerbated by cuts to social programs. The path out of poverty essentially has a Road Closed sign. We are not educating our youth to work in civil service jobs; instead we’ve cut education and jobs in the public sector. We are not supporting artists, who often have a true talent and need to create, and have instead cut funding for the arts, and reduced art education in our public schools so that children with unique gifts are left to flounder in desperate confusion.
“Poverty eclipses the brightest virtues, and is the very sepulchre of brave designs, depriving a man of the means to accomplish what nature has fitted him for, and stifling the noblest thoughts in their embryo. Many illustrious souls may be said to have been dead among the living, or buried alive in the obscurity of their condition, whose perfections have rendered them the darlings of Providence, and companions of angels.” -Anonymous