Monday, January 18, 2010

Still Lessons to be Learned

Today is MLK Day, Martin Luther King's observance. He was a great man, a Godly man. He had messages that we can all still learn from today. But I'm afraid he, and his message, have been placed in a box he was trying to open decades ago. The race box. And it could be eye opening to look at that box.

Martin Luther King, along with his day of observance, was first observed in 1986 after President Reagan signed it into law in 1983. It was immediately embraced by the black community. It has taken nearly 25 years for the typical holiday observances to reach the magnitude it is today. But that, said, it's not as observed, yet, as some other holidays. We do close the federal offices, post offices and post offices, along with banks now. Some school districts have the day off, but if you look carefully, alot of those school districts are urban schools with a majority of black students. Out in the suburbs, its still unusual to have this day off. Such is the case here, around the Detroit area. We lived in the New England region for a few years and there, they would really observe the day by having the children learn excerpts from Mr. King's famous, "I Have a Dream" speech. In my opinion, learning about the man, his message and his words is observing the day in a much more genuine way that having the day off from school or work, simply to play for the day or a few more hours to get errands such as groceries done. But that's just me.

I feel that one of the most quoted phrases that epitomizes Mr. King is the one that says he dreams of the day his children aren't judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. What a great quote. What a great sentiment. And what a great goal. I think in the four decades that has passed since it was originally spoken, things between the black and white communities have improved. But it hasn't arrived yet. One of his last speeches he gave was about the Vietnam War. In it, he said that darkness doesn't dispel darkness. Light does. And hate does not cure hate. Love does. Isn't that profound? A little obvious, but profound, nonetheless. In this fight for race equality, I think both sides have, at times, forgotten this simple concept. I think it also holds true in most conflicts of ideals. Hate is met with hate. We see it in the abortion protests. We see it in the gay protests. Hate is met with hate. And hate will never, ever change someone's mind. It will never be the more attractive option. God did not intend for His people to use His words and His teachings to spew hate toward anyone. And that does not give the recipients of the radical, over-zealous religious protests the right to meet their hatred with hatred of their own. Two wrongs don't make a right, remember? Martin Luther King has been held up as a great man in the civil rights movement. We also need to remember he was a great follower of God.

"The content of our character." That's a sermon and life-goal for all of us, black, white, Jew, Islam, gay, straight, Christian or not. Let's consider the next time we have a difference of opinion, difference of ideals, difference of lifestyles what the content of our character is showing the world. Let's all, all of us, strive to make this one phrase spoken by Martin Luther King many, many years ago more the norm than not. I think it would go a very long way in this world.

1 comment:

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