King’s major course of action throughout all of his work was nonviolence, and he was awarded The Nobel Peace Prize for his work. The war itself was a betrayal of America’s moral obligation, heightened by media portrayals of what is just for our nation. King expressed that our spirit continues to diminish as we diminish humanity across the world. His motive was for our populace to stop thinking in terms of our nations as a singular body, but to think of our nation as a model “that embraces the brotherhood of man” (King, 1967).
He required Americans to see the Vietnamese as our brothers and sisters and gave insight on the experience of the Vietnamese as people not enemies. King spoke of our complete funding handed to the French so they may advance in control of these people. “He proclaimed that America is a victim of Western arrogance for rejecting the revolutionary government seeking self determination in Vietnam” (Spence, 2009). King told us their story of devastation. He described our destruction of their resources. War efforts contributed to the loss of crops, tainted water supplies, and the demoralized the Vietnamese people in their efforts for survival during a time of great suffering (Spence, 2009).
King made it clear that the destruction of the Vietnamese culture was intertwined with the destruction of our own culture. He proclaimed that our troops were sent on a false precedence that only furthered agendas of our nations wealthy. Their agenda led our oppressed solders to death as they killed those oppressed in Vietnam. The propaganda in acquiring a watch dog status in the eyes of other nations mocked our pursuit. Our leaders could not articulate our purpose for being in Vietnam. A Great Buddhist leader commented that America was no longer revolutionary and democratic but the image of violence and militarism (Spence, 2009).
For over 5,000 years we have built empires and maintained a rich get richer mentality. We have seen those with wealth as models to obtain our own successes. We have left those who have needed aid the most behind to further our own successes. We have only risen to occasion of hope when we reap the highest benefits. The United States is trapped in an Imperial Consciousness: those not for our agenda are against our agenda. This way of thinking is dangerous and leads to Moral Autism.
”Imperial Consciousness may have the social intelligence to recognize it is easiest to steal from those who trust you, but lack the moral capacity to recognize that to do so constitutes a wrong in itself and destroys the fabric of trust essential to healthy social relationships” (Korten, 2006).
Beyond Vietnam lays the ground work for this school of thought not in a way that we should adopt it, but the urgency to abandon it. King’s speech captures the momentum needed for our nation to mature. King sought for our nation’s people to be true examples of revolutionaries. He demanded we abolish thoughts that privilege is earned and realize it is inherent. He asked we believe in people most disadvantaged and stop tucking them under our nation’s blanket of shame. The inherent shame is our own complacency in these matters and our brain washed minds that comply with the thinking that we do not matter or have the capacity to understand the complexity of decisions made by our own power structures.
It can be said that King’s message was to end the war, and it was. He projected ending the war was essential and gave a list on how. “End to all bombing in Vietnam; unilateral cease fire; prevention of battle grounds in Southeast Asia; recognition of the National Liberation Front; a set date from removal of all foreign forces from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Convention; granting of asylum to Vietnamese suffering persecution; and the payment of reparations for harm done” (Spence, 2006).
He also described what could be done at home, stating we should continue to protest and stay active within our churches. While his message was to end the war, it was a stepping stone in the right direction for our nation’s obligation, honor and integrity.
Layer by layer embedded in his speech King ask Americans to make a worthy change. As our nation evolves and advances in wealth, industry, technology, the market and free trade with other nations we remain stagnant in social and cultural advances. We have lost sight in the power of our people and all people. We have without question remained faithful children of our empirical society only to watch our brothers and sisters fall, and when they fall we march to the guise that it is somehow their fault and their fault alone. We continually fault each in our race to the top.
King’s message is not a memo to the individual but a mass informant. We must change our institutions and how they support us. We must stop looking at our nonprofit organizations as less worthy because they are stated as not making a profit in our capitalist society. We must stop losing sight of our causes to obtain grant monies that slightly sway our causes. We must advance people in areas of expertise that are directly connected to the people in which they service. We must put check marks on markets and free trade. We must care about the woman in the third world nation that makes our clothes or computer parts. We must demand that people are our highest commodity and put above a precedent of all things material. We must look at all people as our people.
Beyond Vietnam is a speech that should be resurfaced again and again. Martin Luther King’s words take you to the past and reflect the present in a way that sends chills through your soul, and if you’re a person of any feeling and some intellect, it will heighten your very being. Be prepared for a journey before you engage, for such insight can cause anger, regret, and shame. Do not cling to these emotions. MLK has given each and everyone exposed to his message, a gift. He presents us with precision hidden by our meticulously wrapped ideology. One would think as a nation we would share his plea for humanity, instead we rewrap adding layer upon layer. We bury his endowment only to become systematic. Together we are robotic, uniformed servants of the power elite.