On MLK Day, A Brief Reminder of Why We Bother

In the political world, it’s easy to demonize the other side. Those bastards want to abolish the social safety net! Those freaks want to let men marry men! We often forget that, in most cases, the freaks and bastards aren’t being evil but instead sincerely believe that they’re working to make the world a better place.

If you’re involved in politics, regardless of which side you’re on, you likely started doing it because you wanted to advance some noble goal. Of course there are sleazoids out there, and of course humans are very good at rationalizing actions whose results will be bad for the rest of us, but I honestly believe that the majority of people in the political world are acting out of a reasonably sincere desire to improve things. Very few of us are villains in our own stories or our own minds.

With that reminder, let’s take a second to look at one of those moments when a person and his words really did change the world, when someone did succeed in making lives easier and prospects brighter, when someone did help make this often-ugly political process yield to a higher cause. On MLK Day, take a few minutes to watch, to listen and to dream of futures better.


Originally published January 15, 2007

Written by
Colin Delany
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  • Thanks for the inspiration! Wow I’ve never seen a full MLK speech on video before (how that’s possible I don’t know) and was very moved. Also, regarding your post, it’s worth noting that the civil rights movement, as well as Ghandi’s non-violent movement in India, were successful in part because they didn’t demonize the opponent, but converted the opposition to their side by reaching out to their common humanity. Good stuff.

  • Nice post CPD. Too bad the debates tonight had another sad showing between the two democratic front runners. That said it wasn’t just words that made the civil rights movement work. It was a ton of grassroots work — including a lot of blood (literally), sweat and tears to move the ball forward.

    Average people who risked harm to move policymakers willing to take a chance and politicians working with leaders like MLK to move the nation forward.