Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day Musings

Sixteen minutes and forty-four seconds probably sounds like a long time to sit and watch a video right now.

I'm sure you've got other things to do.

But on this day that honors American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, I can think of few things more important that pausing to listen and consider anew what his words might mean.

I mean, you know, if the house is on fire, or you just dumped a cup of coffee on your lap, I get it. But this is really good stuff.

Check out the transcript of the speech here.

* * * * * 

In the decades since Dr. King made this landmark speech, life has changed in America. We all drink from the same water fountains, we attend the same schools, we cast equal votes at the ballot box.

And most Americans today share in his beautiful dream. But we still have a ways to go, and sometimes I wonder if we have lost our way. In the forest of good intentions, we may have strayed from Dr. King's suggested path.

Notice he doesn't ask for a system of handouts, extra privileges or a watered-down set of rules by which our black brothers and sisters may benefit.

He dreams of justice.
He dreams of equality.
He dreams of righteousness.
He dreams of freedom

Most of all, he dreams of freedom.

* * * * *

In 1963. America was a land of black and white; now, thanks to the flowing streams of immigrants from Mexico, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, we the people are a rich, textured mosaic of ebony black, pale white, and every imaginable shade of brown, tan, copper and coffee in between. When I was a child, people used to stop and stare at "interracial" couples and "mixed" children, now - at least in my part of the world - we barely even register that information.

I remember a soft June evening when I was about ten years old. My friend's eighteen-year-old sister had told her parents that she was going out on a date. When the young man showed up on the doorstep, and her parents realized he was black, they absolutely hit the roof. My friend had known this episode was coming and had coaxed me to join her in the bushes where we stealthily watched the whole screaming match that ensued. While I was fascinated at first, within a few minutes, I felt physically sick to my stomach. Stumbling out of the shrubbery and rushing for home, I could not conceive of the hatred that must have fueled her parents' outburst. I felt so sorry for that boy. And for the older sister. She ran away from home that night, and never returned.

Since 2008, much has been made of the fact that we have a black president. If that were actually true, I'd be totally cool with it. But the fact is that Barack Obama was born of a full-blooded Kenyan man and a white woman from Kansas. To be precise, he is half-black and half-white. and honestly, I find that to be a far more impressive and remarkable cultural milestone.

* * * * *

Let us remember that freedom is not just the white man's to give, but it's also the black man's to take.

Let us remember that all of us have the power to fill one another with respect and dignity from the way we conduct ourselves each and every day.

Let us remember that the sins of our fathers are dead and gone. We are all set free from that painful past to live in harmony and love today.

Let us remember that we need not fear the colors of our skin. It's alright that we are all different. We can name those colors, we can appreciate each others' beauty, we can admire instead of pretending not to notice.

Let us remember that God created each one of us in His image, and our attempts to live together in peace reflect His deepest desires.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please comment...I'd love to hear from you!