Today, Monday January 15, 2018 is none other than Martin Luther King, Jr Day in the United States of America. Many of us associate this day with getting out of school and work and taking a trip somewhere nice for the long weekend. Like all federal holidays Martin Luther King, Jr day -- which honors the achievements of MLK as a spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement -- is often brushed aside if not entirely ignored.
What many people do know about MLK is that he was the most influential African American civil rights leader during the 1960s. MLK played an integral role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination based on color, race, religion, sex, or national origin.
However, many people do not know that Martin Luther King, Jr is one of only three people who have national holidays in the USA.
The others are Christopher Columbus and George Washington
Martin Luther King Jr won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for civil rights and social justice. When presenting King with the prize, Gunnar Jahn, chairman of the Nobel Committee, described King’s astounding ability to address a struggle without violence while successfully carrying his message to all men, nations, and races.
In 2018, it is common to argue that technology has began a Civil Rights Movement of its own. With various protests happening just about every week and a different passive aggressive headline in the paper every day, there is a universal need to stand up for your rights, no matter who you are. With that said, it is indisputable that the world of protesting and combatting civil issues has began to operate in a very different way.
Technology, particularly social media, has been revolutionary in the development of said, “new civil rights movement.”
It exists behind our phone and computer screens on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Hashtags are now used to spread slogans while Facebook groups are used to organize protests. As our means of communication have increased exponentially, so has our efficiency in community organizing and fighting for what we believe to be right.
What would Martin Luther King Jr say if he were still alive today? Quite a lot, I imagine.
While we recognize that we are attempting to use technology to grapple with the political problems of today, we are neglecting MLK’s own personal mantra in terms of these issues.
To quote MLK:
"When we look at modern man, we have to face the fact that modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast with a scientific and technological abundance. We've learned to fly the air as birds, we've learned to swim the seas as fish, yet we haven't learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.”
Today, technology is used for protesting, slander, warfare, and even cyber bullying among other things. One would assume that as our knowledge advances with our technology alongside it, we would learn to treat each other with more respect, patience, and kindness. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
In 1964, when Martin Luther King Jr humbly accepted his Nobel Peace Prize, he advised onlookers as well as future generations not to let our “moral progress” lag behind our technological advancements. We must always remember to keep up with our creations and to advance along with our technology.
If there’s anything to learn from MLK in the context of technology, it’s that human beings come first; machines come second.