Life has brought us to mid-January and a day to reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr’s life and words. It’s interesting how his words always seem timely, no matter the situation. When a life is lived with character and dignity like his was, it has a much more last impact than so many of the flash-in-the-pan type people we see rise to notoriety today. I know that I have reflected on this before but years ago I went to the civil rights museum in Memphis, TN (the site of the former Lorraine Motel when MLK Jr was shot). Visiting there was such a powerful experience and will stay with me. It made me examine my own heart and think of all the ways I can tend to think about people just because we are different. I think also as a young white female in America, it made me face some truths I didn’t like.
I confess, I had never read MLK Jr.’s speech on Washington in it’s entirety until this morning (or if I had, I had forgotten, or quite possibly in the naiveté of my youth, I didn’t understand it’s profoundness.) So many of his urges for change are still quite relevant and necessary in 2019. It had me thinking also of the current work of Bryan Stevenson, lawyer, advocate and author of Just Mercy. As I had the privilege of sitting in a room to hear Stevenson speak last year, it was not only powerful but personal. He urged us all in the room to get proximate to these issues, issues that make so many of uncomfortable or issues we tend to just try to ignore. Proximity to real struggles forces us to deal with them. We can no longer claim ignorance to the injustices going on around us. If you haven’t yet read his book, run don’t walk to the library or to Amazon to get it. EVERY American should be reading this book, in my opinion.
So what can you do today in honor of MLK, Jr? Ask yourself, was there a time when I didn’t speak up and should have? Are there ways I have allowed thoughts or feelings based not on truth of us all being God’s children, but allowed thoughts of prejudice? What are ways I can move towards others who are different than me? How can we contribute to the movement towards a more equitable America for all?
“‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.