Today, I have a break as we are all celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Here was a man who had to choose between leading a successful personal ministry in his own local church and becoming the figure and voice of a growing civil rights movement swelling throughout the nation. He struggled through the sacrifices in his personal and civic life to champion a much needed social transformation that is recognized the world over.
I’m not sure I could do that. In fact, I’m almost entirely certain that put in his place, I would be hard pressed not to turn and run at the soonest available exit sign. Just imagine giving up nearly everything in the mode of personal comfort and convenience to be hounded by friends and fellows to deliver freedom! Simultaneously, you’re facing the critical audience of the public media and political agendas while some of the people you’re fighting for doubt your integrity.
And yet, the battle must be fought, no? Interraciality is no longer so taboo. Employment seems to rest almost entirely on merit. But gentrification is real. Immigration inequity and wage slavery are evident truths. Has King’s dream truly been achieved – of a land where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” and where people of all creeds and races can proclaim their freedom? More importantly, is this the only land from which that claim can be heralded?
For years now, this country has been engaged in a war to free the world (no small mission) from terror. A global conflict has been staged to spread democracy, to disseminate choice! Political choice? Religious choice? Sexual choice? Choice of government or economy? These are worthwhile goals, no doubt (the debate on methodology is well established). But can they be achieved at this scale?
Which brings me back to what you or I might do in Dr. King’s place. It is right today to honor this man and the example he provided and the movement he guided and the change for which he died. The movement lives, however, strives and struggles – incomplete. Everywhere, people stretch for opportunity, yearn for equal choice. And everyday we have to choose as well. To be more loving, more open, more informed. To be less consuming, less wasteful, less harmful. To buy from, to work for, to act with those who seek a better world.
So King’s Dream moves us all. We are different but we move together. We may never be called upon to lead this movement, just asked to keep, to build the momentum. What’s great about this day is that we are free to decide.
- Martin Luther King Jr. archives: The last days of Dr. King (thegrio.com)
- Going Green for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (almostallthetruth.com)
- Happy Birthday Dr. King (socyberty.com)