Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
While the nation prepares to commemorate the 88th birthday of Martin Luther King tomorrow, I thought it only appropriate to recognize his actual birthday (today) with a few words from the heart.
Martin Luther King stood for something, and he stood for something that mattered to the world. While he is most known for his actions to promote Civil Rights, his focus towards the end of his life was more comprehensive. Though unpopular with some of his allies, he began to speak out about poverty and his angst about the Vietnam War.
Interestingly, his causes gained significant traction in the 1960s, especially in the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But as I look at where we have come in 2017, it is clear we still have work to do. Poverty remains rampant. War remains the first choice of many of our leaders (despite the fact that fighting NGOs with traditional means doesn’t seem to be working). And clearly we’ve taken a step back when it comes to understanding the intent, meaning, and legal weight of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution. We care more about a perceived right to say whatever we want, or to use the law do whatever we want instead of remembering our humanity. If you think I am wrong just read the news, or the comments on just about any news site. We’ve clearly regressed. Just because you can say something doesn’t mean you should.
I personally owe a debt to Martin Luther King. What I have achieved in my life, and what I hope to continue to achieve, is in part due to the work he and his associates worked so hard for. What many of us do not know is that we all owe him a debt, because while the focus of his attention may have been on black Civil Rights, it was literally the most appropriate target of the time in which he lived. The fact is, people will always find someone to hate. Not as individuals, but collectively, because it is in our nature. One hundred years ago we kept women down, because the Bible, or the natural order of things, suggested it was ok. Then it was the blacks, or the browns, or the yellows. When that became unfashionable it became the LGBTQ community.
What’s funny about that to me is that the arguments are always the same. If it’s not the Bible then it is it’s somehow just the natural order of things. It isn’t. We all have worth, and it is, generally speaking equal worth. When we can get to a place where we recognize, collectively that our own self-worth is not defined in comparison to the worth of others, then we will have come a long way. Until recently, I thought we had.
So Happy Birthday, Dr. King. Your work isn’t done, but it isn’t undone either. It just takes a few good folks to cause change. I think they are still out there.