This weekend marks the federal holiday to commemorate the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The holiday coincides with his birth date, January 15th 1929, rather than the date of his assassination, April 4th, 1968; an all too short 39 years. Dr. King was of course a tireless and truly visionary advocate for civil rights and for the poor and underprivileged.
His work did on occasion dovetail with the environmental movement insofar as environmental degradation is linked to urban social injustice issues and affects the well being of humanity overall. He repeatedly sounded the themes that all members of society have a right to clean air and water. He never did (as far as I can know) directly address the issue of global-scale environmental destruction. But, one year to the day before his assassination, Dr. King made general comments regarding basic justice; comments easily applied to our current global situation. His speech was titled "Beyond Vietnam." It was April 4th, 1967 at Riverside Church in New York, New York. Consider this brief excerpt:
We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam writes, "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.
We are indebted to Dr. King for his brilliant articulation of the state of the world that remains as valid today as it was in 1967. We add our voices to all those paying tribute to him this weekend.
Garvin Jabusch is the cofounder of Green Alpha Advisors, LLC and manages The Sierra Club Green Alpha Portfolio -- a unique blend of Green Alpha Advisors' Next Economy universe and the Sierra Club's proprietary green-investment guidelines.