“But what have we done that is so unwholesome, so egregious, as to deserve punishment in the form of Trump?” - Colbert I. “Colby” King


Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While there are so many eloquent, inspiring quotes by this American giant, there is one that seems so apt and timely as we navigate through today’s troubled waters:

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

All we need is a good captain to continue to navigate our boat. Sadly, the new captain does not seem to be up to the task.

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When something really horrible happens to us, we oftentimes turn our eyes to Heaven and ask, “Dear God, why are we being punished?”

Well, that is what Colbert I. “Colby” King at the Washington Post asks this morning:

Watching President-elect Donald Trump’s falsehood-filled news conference this week, thinking back over his foul, nasty campaign, an election stained with slurs, serial insults, black voter suppression and an outcome influenced by Russia, and looking ahead with dread to his swearing-in Friday as president of the United States of America, a small, quiet voice within asks: “Dear God, are we being punished?”

King recalls what God did to “the wicked and sinful in Sodom and Gomorrah,” adding, “And they had it coming,” and he cites other wraths “against wrongdoing and injustice [as] amply documented throughout the Scriptures.”

“But what have we done that is so unwholesome, so egregious, as to deserve punishment in the form of Trump?” King asks, advancing several possible reasons for “getting what’s waiting for us on Inauguration Day.” He says, “The words of Hosea 9:7 come to mind: ‘The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand.’”

But, hey, look on the bright side:

Is it possible that Trump has been installed as a challenge to renew our strength and forge the kind of social contract that President Obama talked about in his farewell address — guaranteeing kids, including those of immigrants, the education they need; updating the social safety net; getting better wages for workers; changing hearts; jealously guarding our democracy?

But, to realize such, King reminds us that progress requires action and sacrifice and he quotes the famous words of his namesake, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. whose federal holiday we’ll be celebrating on Monday:

“This is the glory of America, with all of its faults. This is the glory of our democracy…. If we were dropped in the dungeon of a totalitarian regime, we couldn’t do this. But the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right….

And we are not wrong; we are not wrong in what we are doing. .?.?. If we are wrong, the Constitution of the United States is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong. If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer that never came down to Earth. If we are wrong, justice is a lie, love has no meaning.

And we are determined… to work and fight until justice runs down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

When one thinks of Trump, King encourages us to recall the following words spoken by the other King: “I want to say that in all of our actions, we must stick together. Unity is the great need of the hour, and if we are united we can get many of the things that we not only desire but which we justly deserve. And don’t let anybody frighten you. We are not afraid of what we are doing, because we are doing it within the law.”

Colbert King concludes with Martin Luther King’s conclusion, “As we prepare ourselves for what lies ahead, let us go out with the grim and bold determination that we are going to stick together. We are going to work together” and he adds his own admonishment:

So on King’s day, let’s gear up to bring about the “fair, just and inclusive America” that President Obama fought hard to create.

Wise and timely words from both Kings for these troubled times.

Colbert I. “Colby” King won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for “for his against-the-grain columns that speak to people in power with ferocity and wisdom.” He is also a regular panelist on ABC’s “Inside Washington” and a regular commentator on WTOP Radio. King joined the Post’s editorial board in 1990 and served as deputy editorial page editor from 2000 to 2007. Earlier in his career, he was an executive vice president of Riggs National Bank, U.S. executive director of the World Bank, a deputy assistant secretary at the Treasury Department, Democratic staff director of the Senate’s District of Columbia Committee, a State Department diplomat stationed at the U.S. embassy in Bonn and a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Adjutant General’s Corps. King grew up in Washington and attended Howard University. He is married to Gwendolyn Stewart King and has three adult sons — The Washington Post

photo credit: Vladimir Yaitskiy God rays via photopin (license)

Dorian de Wind, Military Affairs Columnist
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