FREE MLK POSTER: Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote – TIMELESS and TIMELY Questions of Cowardice, Expediency, Vanity, and Conscience

As Martin Luther King Day approaches this year, I was struck by the timelessness and timeliness of this MLK quote: Cowardice asks, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks, “Is it right?”

Please feel free to reflect upon this eternal wisdom and share this free MLK quote poster with friends and enemies alike.

MLK Quote - TIMELESS and TIMELY Questions of Cowardice, Expediency, Vanity, and Conscience

Cowardice asks, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks, “Is it right?”

Feel free to browse more MLK posters and great quotes.

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Peace Justice Is It Just a Day Off?--Martin Luther King, Jr. POSTER



POEM: Changing Kings

When I was a child
I crapped in my pants
Today I am a king in the world
Now I make others crap in their pants
This is the indigestible truth
Of too much power
That cannot be changed
Even by changing kings

Few people disagree that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Still, most people will gladly accept a little corruption, if it is backed by a little power swinging their way.  Of course, corruption seems much worse if we are on the short end of it!  Power is not distributed equally among humans, and those privileged to possess it, routinely wield it for their own advantage.  Whether through unconscious bias and egocentricity or just plain selfishness, imbalances of power in human relationships leads to corruption.  Even with good intentions, those with greater power end up molding the world into their image, at the expense of the reality of other people’s lives which are disproportionately discounted.  Who of us would not want the magic wand of power to mold the world to fit our ways?

Relinquishing power is not common, and might even be considered foolish by conventional wisdom.  The point is not to relinquish any and all power.  The point is not to have substantially more power than others.  This is rooted in recognizing that power differentials lead to human corruption; or, perhaps better put, lead to a corruption of human community.  In fact, relinquishing power in order to help establish a more healthy balance of power in human relationships is a form of exercising power.  This form of exercising power witnesses to an understanding of a higher power present in reality, that more egalitarian balances or power produces better humans and human community.  The sad truth is that most people have more faith in fascism or other forms of concentrated power than they do in egalitarian human relationships.  This is almost universally true when those with lots of power are aligned with our own particular interests. Even better yet if I am the benevolent dictator!

Large power imbalances typically result from and are maintained by violence.  A relative surplus of power quite predictably leads to a lazy humanity perpetuated by force, routinely re-“making” humanity in the mold of those wielding the power.  The purview of power is expediency, playing into our bias for our own ease rather than than often difficult work of building healthy human community.  The natural ascendency of the masses rooted in their common and democratic (in the sense of majoritarian) everyday reality can only be put down by large power differentials driven by elites.  Historically, there have been numerous rationalizations by elites to justify their minority rule over the masses.  None of these rationalizations can stand as they are founded on the bankruptcy of violence.  Violence is not persuasion; it is overwhelming force.  Violence is what people rely on when reasonable persuasion fails.  Of course, violence is persuasive in the sense that any human act carries with it the power of modeling how humans should act.  However, violence does not lend itself to reasonable human relationships.  Violence is the lowest form of community.  It should be no surprise that violence leads to more violence.  I actually like surprises!  If we meet violence with non-violence, there can be some really cool surprises made possible.  If we want something more than violence, the inevitable outcome of large power differentials, then we need to do something else.  We can do better.


POEM: As We Press Release

As We Press Release

The defense department denies killing civilians
The state department denies human rights abuses by trade partners
The department of energy denies that nuclear power is anything but safe
The criminal justice system denies institutional racism
The department of departments denies that it exists
There is no news here
An anonymous spokesman representing an undisclosed list of clients
Could neither confirm nor deny their uselessness
Beholden to flights of fancy
Carry on
Pink elephants trampling conspiracy theorists
Straw men unable to eat crow
Permitting no one to fly straight
Barring exceptional pork
The fun is over
A barrel
Of monkeys denying evolution
Where GOP is a measle-y typo
Read “take things literally”
A premeditated shot in the dark
Where there is no higher power
Emanating from the chamber of commerce
Pinko pachyderms never herd from
Any rarer would be bloody
Hell, the stakes are high
Raised by vampires
Unable to reflect on their own
Fratricide from dawn to dust
Sucking out the life
Granting only that
They feel our payin’
Exacting compensation for every notice
Dispatching captives with unmanned missives
Droning on
In their priest-like duties
Until the masses are free
Like a cancer
An endless growth
Of pulp fiction
And mind-numbing doublespeak
As we press release
From labor camps
Yet another
Birth of a nation
And its following deportments:
Censors monitoring your every move
So your posterity is theirs
And the war on terror
Only coming to an end
When know more
Freedom to deny

POEM: Running Like Chickens With Their Heads Cut Off

POEM: Running Like Chickens With Their Heads Cut Off

Have you ever looked a chicken in the eyes?
Most of us city folk probably never have
Where are you?
Chickens can look quite different in the city
Just the same
Their bodies run around
Like death will catch up with them if they slow down
Their heads flit about
Ensnared by nothing at all
Abiding mirror fax of life
Who has got one’s back?
Missing only you, won’s greatest faux
Possessed by a vacancy
That will soon enough be dismissed
Wading for something more
Unable to see what’s beneath their own feat
Where we are grounded
Still, six feet is better than two
When it’s not yours!
As if one May fly!
To live but for one day
Even four proves oddly better
Fore what can thou dust do, in turn?
Don’t you see?!
Chickens re-member!?
They are almost everywhere
Though they are practically invisible where I live
So I am bound to run into more than a few
Even more so if you cross to the other side
Just, please, don’t bother asking me why
I must
Have chickens
Incite me
To a whirl
Running about
With their heads
Just being
Cut off
Like trafficking enflesh

I wrote this poem a while back, but thought that it might be a good poem for the month of May, given the reference to the short-lived May fly.  Nonetheless, this poem fits on a long-standing theme, particularly for those living in Western civilization, of busyness and not being present in the moment. Like many of my poems, you may have to read it several times, because it involves a lot of puns and multiple meanings depending on how you read various phrases.  It’s difficult for me to comment on longer poems, because I end up commenting way, way longer than the poem itself.  Sometimes I like to leave the poems to speak for themselves.  Still, I think it’s probably comment on one strain in this poem.  The phrase: Still, six feet is better than two is a reference to being buried 6 feet underground and a reference to a chicken with its head cut off lying on the ground looking at the 6 feet of three other chickens and taking some small comfort that it is not their two feet that they see in their last moment of life.  Also, this is an allusion to the apparent ease at which we will trade other people’s lives for our own.  If you find this somewhat morbid, then take some comfort in the line: Even four proves oddly better.  In our fixation on the quantitative in our culture, it might seem odd that four is actually better than six.  However, the four refers to two sets of feet and a pair of chickens or people.  This refers to the comfort that we find in companionship with one another.  This value of companionship strikes a sharp contrast to the hurried busyness that tramples our presence of any given moment, and rushes by authentic relationships with others.  In this crazy world, which may seem dangerous and short at times, especially if you are chicken, companionship and solidarity may prove to be the reason or purpose in our lives.  I guess the message is: pay attention to the people around you.  Oh yeah, you may want to pay attention to the chickens around you as well.

In Politics Stupidity Is Not a Handicap

In Politics Stupidity Is Not a Handicap–FUNNY PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

In Politics Stupidity Is Not a Handicap--FUNNY PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

In Politics Stupidity Is Not a Handicap–FUNNY PEACE QUOTE BUTTON

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View more Peace Quote Buttons.

This funny quote from Napoleon Bonaparte  is particularly funny since Napoleon certainly had many encounters with all types of politicians, so he should know.  While I don’t think that intelligence is necessarily associated with politics, I think that a deficiency of certain types of wisdom is widespread.  Politics is fraught with expediency and compromise.  This marginalizes other ways of living and relating to one another.  Ironically, the quest to triangulate thousands of expedient compromises, even with the intent to preserve and enhance human life, invariably degrades our collective humanity and individual worth in relation to the body politic.   This is another case of vainly seeking to achieve certain ends by means incompatible with those ends.  This necessarily disconnects the natural order of things, that means and ends are connected; and when the connection between means and ends is severed, the meta-message is that life (or politics) doesn’t make sense and that sensible solutions to community problems are irrelevant.  This state of affairs continues because sensibility is not the primary concern, rather, it is power.  Power can be wielded sensibly, but power has the “privilege” of operating insensibly, according to its own whim or interest.  One does not have to have intelligence to wield power, therefore stupidity is not a handicap in politics, the wielding of power in relation to others.  A wisdom that views means and ends as inseparable needs to face the difficult work of forging a way that is far less expedient.  If we didn’t negotiate away (compromise) human rights regularly, then large-scale human endeavors would require an even larger scale of work necessary to preserve human rights.  This is a primary reason why I see anarchism and its critique of large-scale enterprises as so important to understanding the large-scale dehumanizing forces in Western civilization.  If we were committed to healthy human relationships, we would not engage in large-scale enterprises which run over human rights.  Of course, this is seen as impracticable or unattainable; thus, the pervasive sense that individuals or small groups cannot make a difference.  This fatalism is a logical read of the logic inherent in these larger systems.  The systems do NOT value you.  That’s because valuing you has been so compromised out of the system.  People become means, not ends.  Invariably, when people are treated as means rather than ends, they are treated meanly, like so much building material in the dreams of others who wield more power.  For better or worse, the only way out of this seems to be the masses rising up with their own inherent power derived from their will and consent and overthrow the dehumanizing powers that be.  Now, this takes more than wisdom; this requires courage!  I encourage you to rage against the machine.  I encourage you to live in ways that inspire others to fully live and not compromise themselves as they internalize and model so well the compromising of others inherent in modern politics.  To live free is not a guarantee that you “win” (as in the conventional wisdom), but to center your living around the fact that being free is winning.  Live free or die.  The second comes to all of us.  The first is optional.