In honor of Martin Luther King Day, here is a post to the man who dedicated his life to social justice. Three of his best quotes are included here:
- “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane”
Without a basic level of health, human rights mean very little.
The fight against oppression weakens over the coughs of tuberculosis. The dream of education remains just that–a dream– of those bed-ridden by malaria. Self-respect and dignity as a human suffer when suffering from diarrheal disease.
Yet these illnesses have easy solutions. Malaria, TB, and diarrhea can be cured with simple treatments that cost less than a cup of coffee. Single shot vaccines can prevent millions of future childhood deaths.
In a world with advanced laser-eye surgery, full body scans, and micro-surgery performed by robots, it’s incredible that children die from lack of the most basic antibiotics.
The outrageous extent of global health disparity in the time of MLK was appalling. Decades later, it remains ethically unjustifiable.
- “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar… it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
The global tragedy of poverty cannot be solved by a system of charity alone. To overcome the most oppressing economic issues, we must seek sustainable solutions that do no more than hinge on the endless altruism of others. Social institutions must be transformed to promote gender equality, religious co-existence, and equal opportunities regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Poverty and it’s consequences are not solved by welfare, but by employment. Crime is not solved by police force, but by education and the creation of equal opportunities. The act of flinging a coin is only a band-aid approach.
Organizations like Acumen Fund recognize this and seek to change the way we look at poverty. They seek to transform the victim to the empowered, the poor to the proud. Ultimately, the change of social structure (not single monetary donations) will gradually shift tragedy towards development.
- “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Do something. Anything. Donate money, join a rally, hug a friend. It’s easy to go through the motions, especially in college, and put off any public service. Yet students are the best equipped to utilize their social network to raise awareness, lobby for change, and fight for social justice. When a friend is fundraising, give them a small donation. When a friend becomes active in a cause, show them your support. When a friend experiences discrimination, don’t turn a blind eye.
To accomplish any goal, power comes from a network of loyal partners (a “tribe” of individuals dedicated to the same cause.) We rely on each other to bring about change. Almost everyone has been in that position to ask a roommate to come to an event, or convince a friend to donate to a cause.
Don’t be a silent friend.