In his 1967 Riverside Church speech “Beyond Vietnam” Dr. King spoke these words:
“We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin to shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computer, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
It is thought that he used the word “triplets” instead of just enumerating them as 3 separate things, because they shared a DNA of violence, exploitation, and subjugation of the other, people of color here and worldwide.
In 2018, the evidence is clear that the DNA of property rights and the profit motive of corporate America is subjugating and destroying nature herself, and that is why, of the 4 areas of concern of the Poor People’s Campaign ecological devastation is included as the fourth element of the moral revival campaign.
Poverty, racism, and militarism – are all linked by ecological devastation, and all will be catastrophically worsened due to the impacts of global warming, habitat destruction and species extinction if we don’t radically change our energy economy within the next few years.
The reality is that the Founders of this country valued property over people and nature. White male propertied Europeans wanted what the King of England desired and forcibly expropriated – the natural resources of North America.
To deny that racism, sexism, poverty, violent & often military exploitation of native people, slaves and nature, with its consequent ecological devastation, are the foundational operational instructions of the American way of life is to live in a fantasy world.
The written text of the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution reads as a moral document, and makes declarations about the rights of people, the general welfare, and protecting life, liberty and opportunity to the people and their posterity. In fact, however, the power and profitability of corporations and economic growth at the expense most classes of people and the natural world was structurally an integral part of our foundational documents.
The time has come to change this structure that depends on poverty, racism, militarism and violence to the natural world. The time is past due when selfishness, greed, violence take precedence over compassion, equity, and peacemaking are the standards by which we value human behavior.
The organizations with which I work, Community Roots and the Alliance for Energy Democracy have a plan to bring a deeper moral vision and imagination to the people who power to our local City and County Governments. We will challenge Duke Energy’s and the State Government’s ability to control what kind of energy we will use in our community and how it is generated and shared. The plan is call a Community Bill of Rights, a City Ordinance which allows us to develop a realistic strategic plan and concrete pathways to provide good jobs, a healthy environment, and a chance to make a difference on local self-governance in N.C.
The CBoR will be a practical application of the moral vision and principles of the Poor People’s Campaign, and Community Roots will be a partner in our common struggle to change the way democracy works for the benefit of all people. We are dedicated to a non-violent world that honors diversity, human rights, and the beauty and integrity of the natural world for ourselves and all future generations.