Monday, January 16, 2012
Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I woke up this morning as I’ve done for most of the ‘third Monday’s in January’ that I could remember. Wake up, check my e-mail, and get ready for the afternoon’s Knicks game.
I have long respected and admired Dr. King, but haven’t much remembered and appreciated his sermons, speeches, life’s work and teachings since my days in elementary school. I remember sitting in class and understanding the importance of this man, but there is only so much my per-adolscent brain could understand.
This morning I found myself reading, then listening, to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He spoke:
“Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”
In his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, Dr. King spoke of the acts of violence doled out upon his nonviolent movement. Whether it be dogs or fire hoses, they sang “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around”.
Dr. King speaking to the reaction his nonviolent movement thrust up to the violent actions of the police force spoke to the true power of the movement; almost as if to say, “There’s nothing you could do to us that can break our will.” Their strength came from a higher power. I can certainly respect that.
While my belief and resolve in God may not be shared with Dr. King, I understand and agree with many religious teachings:
“And, so, the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But, then, the Good Samaritan came by. And, he reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”
And, unfortunately, this is where we are in American society. Too many of us act only in our self-interest and do not stop to question where our actions leave our fellow brothers and sisters. If only for today, we should stop and think about the power of our actions… what a wonderful day that would be. And, maybe, one day would lead to two… two days to a week…
On the day before he was killed, during his final speech, hearing his words, it was almost as if he knew what the road ahead would be for him. But, the strength, compassion, and power of his words will forever live on.
“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But, I am not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And, He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And, I’ve looked over. And, I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But, I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”
I, too, believe we will get there. But, only if we continue to remember the courage and strength of a man who gave his life for what he believed in.
Post note: I am humbled to have been included in a very cool tribute to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Check it out.