Honoring the Heritage of Dr. King: Emulating a Model of Moral Magnitude in achieving Optimal Health

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Within the unique, awesome, extensive and special narrative of Afro American history there is an expansive list of saints, saviors, prophets, practitioners, and servant leaders of the good. Both men and women who struggled to bring into being a truly just and moral society.

These men and women; teachers of the good; and messengers of moral magnitude, walked righteously in worthiness in the world before history, humanity, and heaven, sought to build what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King constructs as the Beloved Community; by speaking truth, doing justice, by way of serving God through serving the people! The Most Honorable Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King is without a doubt, such a person; and this month of January, we honor him and celebrate his ethical life of service, struggle, and achievement as our ancestor servant leader. His death as does his life provides us very useful lessons on how we are to see ourselves today as the struggle for justice continues in and on all fronts. It is as articulated by another ancestor soldier for rightness and good in the world, Paul Robeson who, in a speech declared “The battlefront is everywhere, there is no sheltered rear.”

Therefore, with the battle front everywhere with no sheltered rears then let us review and revere Kings legacy in the context of striving toward excellence in struggle to reach Optimal Health. For clarity the operational definition of optimal health here is the practice of NERDS, i.e., Nutrition, Exercise, Rest, Detoxification, and Stress Management. Moreover, for clarity we use the modifier of Proper to emphasize high quality or excellent before each of the categorical areas, thus Proper nutrition, exercise, rest, detoxification and stress management. Consequently in gaining greater insight as to how we see ourselves, this also implies a greater understanding of ourselves and finally as how we assert ourselves in the world. And in the struggle for optimal health, Rev. King’s legacy and lessons is as relevant to our wellbeing and development as it is in any other area of our thought and activity.

Rev. King’s legacy is a continued lesson on seeing the value of our life and all human life as sacred. Sacred here means human life is special and not to be violated under any rationale for oppression and barbarism for humans are by virtue of the creators, the ancestors, and the universe, dignity bearing divine beings. The Americas as a country has yet to learn this lesson as we continue to see the onslaught of racism, class exploitation, sexism, materialism and military imperialism in its varied and sundry forms. For example, the ill gotten immoral wars in the world; which America either initiates, supports or both. The ongoing misappropriation of wealth and power by the ruling race and class; and of focus in this commentary, the insidious policy, programs, and practices of the Unholy Alliance of the Food Industry, the disease Management Industry, Pharmaceutical companies and their assorted cohorts in crime such as the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, the Food and drug Administration, American Heart Association etc.

In Rev. Kings philosophical stance he deemed us, Black people as the moral vanguard whose social circumstances, pain, and intense spiritual grounding, positions us for a mission of liberation that is divinely inspired, manifested in our thought and action building a liberation movement, with anticipated ramifications of peace, freedom, and an abundance of goodness for all at the end of our days of struggle. There is no where today where Rev. Kings model of moral magnitude could be more needed than engaging the struggle to obtain optimal health as a people.

As I have articulated elsewhere; “Afro Americans, have the highest disparity rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, prostate cancer, stroke, heart attacks and related diseases; and San Diego is not exempt from this atrocity as evidenced by County of San Diego, (2013)’s Health Status of Black Residents in San Diego County, (in Critical Issues in the Struggle for Optimal Health; Kalonji, Dec, 2013).” The battle for optimal health will of necessity include efforts in the political, economic, and social realm of human thought and activity. Moreover, like the overall liberation movement, it is both communitarian and personal; and the focal point of this article is primarily in the interest of personal/communitarian development. There are four points of Rev. Kings, philosophy, practice and model of moral magnitude addressed here.

They are his position on Self Help, Revolution, and Activism & Achievement. On Self Help, Rev. King writes us in his seminal text Stride Toward Freedom that “Black people must come to see that there is much we can do about our plight. Whether educated or not, or stricken with poverty; these handicaps most not prevent us from seeing that we have the power to alter our fate.” In other words as I have written elsewhere in, Change begins with one person; as one person changes they affect the rest of the population. One person has the power within them to bring massive change in any circumstance through creating change within themselves. But we cannot bring well-being to others unless we have conquered that in our own life, (in A Maxim for Optimal Health; Kalonji, Dec, 2013).

Moreover, inherent in this position on Self Help is Rev. King’s contention that it “is immoral to collaborate in one’s own oppression.” One collaborates by their accepting oppression, turning a blind eye or ignoring oppression, and become evils accomplice. So a people ignoring its poor state of health and continuing to demonstrate the behavior that got them unhealthy is collaboration in one own oppression. Thus, there is as argued earlier, no reason that we as a people cannot eradicate our health crisis. Regardless of the systemic manipulation by the Unholy Alliance, if we do as the Nguzo Saba principles of Kujichagulia (Self Determination) and Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) instruct us, we no doubt will overturn our weakness and turn it into a strength, subsequently empowering ourselves to be the best of who we are as African peoples living a quality lifestyle free of disease and systemic death predicted and promoted by the established orders disease management mechanisms.

On Revolution, King contends that “indeed we are engaged in revolution, a social movement that changes people and institution; and that our hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a hostile world.” Linked to King’s position on revolution is his contention that we have the moral right and responsibility to resist wrong include disobeying the established orders and unjust laws. Thus in the context of our struggle of prevention and intervention of disease disparity and death of our community, we are obligated by history and heaven to rise up in opposition to evil and wrong doing as King states “ that when man-made law conflicts with moral reasoning, we not only have the right but also, the responsibility to resist it. Rev. King goes onto say that “justice will not come from court decision or legislation but rather form a “radical restructuring of our society”; and that is ever evident in the struggle for liberation via reaching optimal health in our community.

Lastly, Rev. King’s stance on Activism & Achievement is affirmed through his contention that “Freedom is never given to anybody, activism is necessary to achieve libration because oppression does not yield unless strong pressure is applied against it by the oppressed.” Furthermore, King argues that after one has discovered what he/she is made of and for, they should surrender all of the power of their very being to the achievement of their goals” Rev. King urged excellence in work o matter what the work might be.” Therefore I contend that without any doubt whatsoever, in order to do as Rev King rightly encourages us to do we must also adhere to the principle and practices of the Nguzo Saba principle, Nia (Purpose), which states “to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness” and part of our greatness is that our ancestors brought to the world naturopathic protocols for living long and prosperous healthy lives. Therefore we have no business playing cultural children to Europe and its descendant, buying into their profit making schemes about health and medicines and dying at unparalleled rates in comparison to other others in the process.

In the final analysis, it is up to us Black people to continue our legacy as being this country’s moral vanguard and thus let us remain steadfast and compelled to build on Rev Kings legacy and honor his heritage by assuming and infusing his positions and Practices of Self Help, Revolution, Activism & Achievement in our struggle to establish a Model of Moral Magnitude in achieving Optimal Health!

Min. Tukufu Kalonji is Founder/Kasisi of Kawaida African
Ministries. For info contact @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.