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The Alligator Army Weekly Open Thread, Vol. CXLIX

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The winter season is in full swing — but today is a day for remembrance.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

This past weekend was one so jam-packed with Florida Gators sports that you could mistake it for a time when a pandemic wasn’t happening. Six different Florida teams — seven if you count the men’s and women’s track teams as separate entities — were in action, and all of them won at least something of note.

It was an eventful weekend for Florida’s football program, too, with commitments, announcements, and reporting on a likely hire to Billy Napier’s coaching staff.

All of that is cool, and all of those things are the sort of news I really would like to write up here at the ol’ blog if and when I get the chance.

But today is also Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and one on which I personally think we should spend some time reading his seminal letter from Birmingham Jail, or the full text of his “I Have a Dream” speech, or his searing “Beyond Vietnam” speech — one that, to my ears, sounds as clarion a call in 2022 as it did nearly 55 years ago:

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken—the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

I’ll get to the news of the weekend, I promise. (I’m also very much interested to hear in the comments about whether y’all would prefer a Chomping at Bits-style rundown of Gators weekends that were that publishes early Monday mornings or a fuller recap that comes later in the day or on Tuesdays.)

But I’m going to take this day to reflect, and encourage you to do the same if you can.