Trellon is closed today, Monday, January 18, 2010, in observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As holidays go in the United States, this is one that is frequently overlooked and few people stop to really appreciate. There has been great debate in many states as to whether to observe this day or Columbus Day should be observed as a holiday, given the impact it has on various calendars and the ends to which the men worked. It occurs the day before the birthday of Robert E. Lee, a confederate general who has received great acclaim despite the ideologies he fought for. It occurs in the month of January, overshadowed by New Years and the events that take place over the holidays.
Taking a moment to reflect on Dr. King and his accomplishments today is worthwhile, especially so for anyone who has ever worked on an open source project.
"Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice."
- Quote from Dr. King in his 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail', available at http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html
This letter resonates in its appeal to recognize one's own responsibility to stand up to unjust laws and immoral acts despite the fact they may be embraced by authorities. It contrasts the public acts of individuals and the base morality of the status quo they represent, to provide a picture of how backwards society really can be at times.
The fact this is called the 'Letter from Birmingham Jail', and not an 'Essay on Non-Violent Action,' for a reason. It is an appeal to the world to examine our own conscience, sent by someone who has been deprived of his own freedom and without the means to speak out through the mass media present in his time.
Drupal and open source technology have been used as tools for non-profit organizations to advance agendas ranging from social justice, to economic reform, to crisis intervention, to environmental responsibility, to child welfare, to a wide range of other worthwhile pursuits. They have enabled organizations to pursue social change by enabling instant communications from a centralized source, where online activism and social activity can create opportunities for people to come to realizations such as the ones expressed in this letter.
Today, I am thinking about how amazing it is that someone with nothing can speak out to millions about the state of the world as he / she sees it, at a cost approaching zero, and that the tools and technology are in place to allow this to happen. I am wondering what this means for our ability to recognize the quality of our own behavior and how we organize society.