Monday, January 16, 2006

Thoughts on Dr. King

I thought about doing an essay on Martin Luther King Day, and then thought better of it. After all, that’s a Black Holiday, right? Besides, in some cities around the country, there are actually competing factions in the black communities that have resulted in not one, but two MLK parades. Wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of the street in that neighborhood.

Then I thought better still—the things Dr. King stood for, advocated, and some believe, died for, are solid truths that are applicable to people of all colors.

He once said, “all men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”

We’re here to help each other, whether we like it or not. Funny thing about that is, the more we help one another, the better our lives are. You keep practicing that philosophy, along with “The Golden Rule,” and pretty soon life is pretty grand, regardless of where you are, socio-economically, professionally, and personally.

Dr. King was ordained a Baptist minister in 1947. In 1954 he was working with a church in Montgomery, Alabama, when a woman in his congregation decided to not give up her bus seat to a white man.

Rosa Parks’ bravery was an early inspiration for Dr. King, who would later remark, “that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

Dr. King sponsored a bus boycott after Parks’ arrest, which brought the Montgomery bus system to its knees, and changed the course of history.

I find it fascinating to read the words of this man, whose thoughts and comments are even more challenging today, for people of all ethnicities. He once said, “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

We’re entering an election year, and the second half of a new decade in a new millennium. Many of you readers are couched in comfort and convenience; you’ve been blessed beyond your wildest dreams. What if that were to all be taken away tomorrow? What would your views on life, religion, politics, and morals be under such altered circumstances?

There are lots of conflicting, controversial, and confounding stories about Martin Luther King. I won’t even repeat them here. I am not his judge, but there is a Higher One who is, and He can decide the eternal destiny of Dr. King. But during King’s days on earth he was many things—including a contemporary philosopher and preacher of love and equality for all races—and a sharp-witted observer of the times.

He was a good example of what it means to speak your mind, regardless of the consequences, if what you spoke was the truth. And he said, “our lives begin to end the day we remain silent about things that matter.”

Dr. King mattered. I couldn’t be silent about that.

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