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Over the last century

Hayden (1993) begins by describing the days when they were in school stating that the United States was not only the strongest country in the world, but also the wealthiest. It was the only country with an atomic bomb and not afraid of modern war. As they grew, however, their comfort was invaded by events too troubling to ignore. First, the permeating fact of human degradation, symbolized by the Southern struggle against racial prejudice, compelled most Americans from silence to activism.

Second, the enclosing fact of the Cold War, which was symbolized by the presence of the Bomb, brought about an understanding that they themselves, and their friends, and millions others they knew more directly because of their common danger, might die at any time. They might have deliberately ignored, or failed to feel all other human problems, but not these two, for they were too immediate as much as they were crushing in their impact, too challenging in the demand that they as individuals take the responsibility for both resolution and encounter.

American virtues were not only tarnished but what had initially been seen as the American Golden Age was in the real sense a decline of an era. The global outbreak of revolution against colonialism and imperialism, the effects of war, overpopulation, international disorder, these trends were but testing the tenacity of the commitment of Americans to democracy and freedom and their abilities to visualize their application to a world in chaos. The author notes that in the last few years, thousands students from America demonstrated that they at least felt the necessity of the times.

They actively and directly moved against racial discrimination, the threat of war, violations of individual rights of conscience, and, less frequently, against economic manipulation. The students triumphed in restoring a small measure of controversy to the campuses after the stillness of the McCarthy period. They also triumphed, in gaining some concessions from the people and institutions they had opposed, especially in the fight against racial prejudice. Martin Luther King, while confined in a Birmingham city jail, drafts a letter as a response to all his critics.

He begins to explain that the reason why he was in Birmingham was because of the injustices that were going on (Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963). That he was disappointed with the white moderate who he says were more devoted to order than to justice. The white moderates he says preferred a negative peace which is the absence of tension to positive peace which is the presence of justice. That the white moderate believes he can set a timetable for another man’s freedom in the pattern he pleases, and who lives in a mythical concept of time constantly advising the black man to wait for a more convenient season.

The white man he hoped would understand that law and order existed for the purpose of establishing justice. When they fail in this purpose, they ultimately become the dangerously structured dams blocking the flow of social progress. He continues to urge the white moderates to reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. He refers to a letter written to him by a white brother from Texas stating that in the end, colored folks shall receive justice and equality, but should not be in such a religious hurry.

The letter continued to say that it took Christianity two thousand years to achieve what it had achieved. Martin Luther King in response to this letter criticizes the white man’s attitude saying this kind of attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. He states that time should be used wisely and in a more creative way knowing that time is always ripe to do right. That it was time to make the real promise of democracy and transform their national elegy into brotherhood.

It was time to lift their national policy from that of racial injustice to one full of human dignity. George W. Bush in his inaugural speech states that in an American unfolding promise, everyone not only belongs but also deserves a chance, and that no insignificant person was ever born (First Inaugural Address, 2001) That Americans have been called to enact this promise with both their lives and their laws. And even if the nation ahs at times halted, or delayed, they must follow no other course. He states that at its best, America matches a commitment to principle with specific concern to civility.

A civil society according to him demands from every American good will and respect, fair dealing as well as forgiveness. He adds that civility is not a tactic nor is it a sentiment. That it is the choice of trust over cynicism and urges Americans to keep it as this commitment is one way of shared accomplishment. The president promises to live and lead in a way he shall advance his convictions with civility, pursue the public interest with courage, speak for greater justice and comparison, and call for responsibility as well as try to live it.

He calls for Americans to uphold the spirit of citizenship as no wrong can stand against it. Reference List George W. Bush’s First Inaugural Address. (2001). http://www. bartleby. com/124/pres66. html Martin Luther King, Jr. , “Letter from Birmingham Jail. (1963). http://mlk-kpp01 .stanford. edu/kingweb/popular_requests/frequentdocs/birmingham. pdf Hayden, S. (1993). The Port Huron Statement of Students for a Democratic Society. http://lists. village. virginia. edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Resources/Primary/Manifestos /SDS_Port_Huron. html

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