January 27, 2007 – Washington, D.C.

America is a fundamentally good and great nation. As it evolves toward fulfilling its promise. It is better than our presidential leadership. The American people, nor the Congress, ever agreed to the global calamity and disaster.

Today we march for the soul of our nation, to preserve our nation’s honor. We march in protest against our government’s policy, mass action to change the course of our nation. The war in Iraq is causing a war on the poor at home. Money needed for the working poor, the aged and the young, are being sacrificed for this mis-adventure.

I was with Dr. King on his last birthday, January 15, 1968: his actions and agenda that day are instructive for us. He spent his morning sharing breakfast with his family. About 10am he came to church, dressed casually, building a multicultural coalition: Appalachian whites, Native Americans and Latinos from the Chavez group, Al Lowenstein and some Jewish allies from New York, Blacks from the Deep South and labor leaders…the focus was to end the War in Vietnam and End Poverty in America.

He was preparing for a mass march on Washington, even preparing for civil disobedience, to challenge the priorities of our Congress – in his words, bombs dropping in Vietnam will explode in American cities.

It’s easier to admire Dr. King than to follow him. We need leaders in high places, but they must be going somewhere. They must pursue a vision without fear. We must mold opinion and not follow opinion polls.

If you can’t march today, if you can’t march and lead the way for peace in 2007, it’s hard to lead for justice and economic security in 2008 in the face of stiff adversity and in the face of stiff opposition. We need – we demand - leaders that we can follow, but they must be going somewhere to higher ground without fear.

Peace in controversial, but so is war. But the fruits of peace are so much sweeter.

That’s why the Bible says, “Blessed are the peace makers, the reconcilers, the bridge builders, for they should be called the Son of God.”

We need more than new leaders; we need new direction, new priorities, and a new way for a new day.

Who will endure wounds for America’s transgressions? Enabling a nation to be healed by their stripes and sacrifices?

The state of the union – President Bush ignored Katrina – which beyond New Orleans is a metaphor for neglected urban and rural America. He ignored poverty, unfair trade, Appalachia. The illegal flow of guns and drugs into our communities. The need for more jobs and job training.

Four years ago, demonstrators were marching and legislators were silent and intimidated. We weren’t in sync. Congress approved funds and troops blindly. Now the demonstrators must reinforce legislation. The political leaders caught up.

Beyond demonstration and legislation we need a vision, with principles. Leaders with tough minds and tender hearts. We do not need more troops in Iraq, we need more money, more fruitless sacrifice. We need more diplomacy, more trade, more aid, and fewer threats. We need a War on Poverty, not a war on religion.

Out of the darkness and despair, these times demand leadership that brings light and hope to dark places, whose values are defined by words that become flesh with action. We need vision: The Bible says, “Without a vision, the people perish.”

A vision of co-existence over co-annihilation, a vision of hope over fear, a vision of preparing smart children not smart bombs.

A vision that realizes that right makes might, might seldom makes right.

A house built on a foundation of truth can withstand, but one built on the shifting sands of lies can not stand the wind of hope and truth.

Iraq was not an imminent threat.

There was no Al Qeda connection. We found no WMDs.

We chose corrupt Iraqi exiles over UN observers and scientists.

A vision that will turn swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks and one that will study war no war. That will rebuild our infrastructure.

A vision measured by character, defined by how we treat the least of these, with selfless sacrifice.

A vision that embraces the least of these and the lost sheep. When lion and lamb lie together, where the extremes find common ground.

A vision where we end foolish spending, the squander of $8 billion a month, of invading and occupying. A war of choice with no end in sight.

President Bush says more troops. Our vision demands more Pell Grants for students, more housing, more alcohol and drug rehab, more bridges and rails, more schools,

This is a time to build.

To heal.

A vision to change a wretched flawed course with a revolution of values inspired by the genuine, authentic, and willing.

A vision of healing.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then God will forgive their sins, and they will hear from heaven, and God will heal the land.”

This is a bright moment of healing and hope. Don’t surrender your faith. Don’t limit your vision of the blessed community. Keep Hope Alive.