Despite yesterday's rain and today's warmth, snow still sits on the ground in the shade on the north side of the house, polished to a high sheen. The brook is noisy and the squirrels are holding some kind of convention in the oak tree. Jays, titmice, nuthatches, woodpeckers, a cardinal pair -- all have come to the backyard to chatter in the sun. The ice on the lake is breaking up. January's teasing thaw. Dr. King would have been eighty-one this year, unmartyred, perhaps still consulted from time to time out of respect, but likely shunted aside, held off at the margins, a figurehead whose dignified image would've been tarnished by reports of infidelity, his numerous flaws and faults catalogued first by the FBI, then the media, then Hollywood, and finally the crackpot blogosphere. America's great Ghandian genius of protest did not live long enough to become a caricature, cruelly subject to the ravages of time. In our adolescent culture, if the old are to be respected, it is for their tenacity, not their wisdom.
Dr. King too lived in an Age of Terror, the homegrown terror of racial violence and old-fashioned human wickedness. For those who mistakenly think that we have successfully exited that Age of Terror because we have a black President, I'd say you need to get out some. Here in Sussex County, New Jersey, not seventy miles from New York City, there are a good many angry white people who can't stand blacks, who in fact still think blacks are apes, and whose idea of political commentary is "Lynch Obama." Outside of booze, or dope, or the idiot box, there is no way to appease them, for their world is a dung-heap and they have no power over it. If you're clever and amoral like the captains of industry in those big fancy houses closer to the city, you sell these angry bastards shite they don't need to distract them for a spell. But they're not going away and they've got guns. It may be a miracle that the spirit of Dr. King still lives amongst us, but it's a commonplace that the ghastly spirit of James Earl Ray can still be found loitering in our suburbs and subdivisions, with its shriveled up soul and unstoppable biological urge to breed. The goddamned animal that shot Dr. King in cold blood.
The best that can be said of the pundits and preachers who pander to these angry bastards is that they too will disappear into ash and dust, even as succeeding generations curse their name. Humankind may be evolving, but effin Darwin was right -- evolution takes forever. I'll be long dead and ground up into countless atoms before the lion and lamb lie down together, so I guess I'll just have to comfort myself with that eventuality and continue to live like there's no tomorrow. Trying to follow in the footsteps of those whose faith is far, far greater than mine, visionaries like Dr. King.