Monday, January 19, 2015

Reflections On This Day

As has been obvious to anyone watching or reading the news, over the past year (especially during the last six month) there has been a tremendous amount of racial discourse. There have been many instances when the protests have been thoughtful and thought provoking while there have also been numerous occasions when the messages have been lost in the rage and rampage both physically and verbally. There have been calls for peace as well as race baiting accusations. Overall, the dichotomy has been tremendous especially considering that each has called on the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to support their actions.

In the majority of these instances, the verdict was declared before a pursuit of justice could even begin. On more than one occasion, those who sought to tell the truth were threatened with their lives… some came forward but too many remained silent. It makes me wonder how those who seek to prevent justice view this holiday when we remember a man who spent his life and gave his life in the hope that justice, freedom, equality, and peace could be embraced by all regardless of race, religion, or nationality. As Coretta Scott King wrote in “The Meaning of The King Holiday”:

On this day we commemorate Dr. King’s great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation; a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child. We are called on this holiday, not merely to honor, but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and interracial sister and brotherhood he so compellingly expressed in his great dream for America.

It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. No other day of the year brings so many peoples from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America. This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples’ holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream.

We commemorate on this holiday the ecumenical leader and visionary who embraced the unity of all faiths in love and truth. And though we take patriotic pride that Dr. King was an American, on this holiday we must also commemorate the global leader who inspired nonviolent liberation movements around the world. Indeed, on this day, programs commemorating my husband’s birthday are being observed in more than 100 nations.

The King Holiday celebrates Dr. King’s global vision of the world house, a world whose people and nations had triumphed over poverty, racism, war and violence. The holiday celebrates his vision of ecumenical solidarity, his insistence that all faiths had something meaningful to contribute to building the beloved community.

The Holiday commemorates America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence — the man who taught by his example that nonviolent action is the most powerful, revolutionary force for social change available to oppressed people in their struggles for liberation.

This holiday honors the courage of a man who endured harassment, threats and beatings, and even bombings. We commemorate the man who went to jail 29 times to achieve freedom for others, and who knew he would pay the ultimate price for his leadership, but kept on marching and protesting and organizing anyway.

Every King Holiday has been a national “teach-in” on the values of nonviolence, including unconditional love, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation, which are so desperately-needed to unify America. It is a day of intensive education and training in Martin’s philosophy and methods of nonviolent social change and conflict-reconciliation. The Holiday provides a unique opportunity to teach young people to fight evil, not people, to get in the habit of asking themselves, “what is the most loving way I can resolve this conflict?”

In Dr. King’s memory, I hope that we can all seek peace during this tumultuous time and seek truth and justice rather than assume guilt simply based on whether the person is black or white. To strive to accomplish any less in his memory would be to contradict all that he fought and died for. Remember, his dream was that ALL men are created equal!