Monday was Martin Luther King Jr Day. He was a great civil rights leader that was visionary in his outlook. Not just for equality but in approach, he understood that violence can never be a voice of progress.
Most people misquote his speech rather liberally, so let me share this link to a copy of the actual speech https://www.npr.org/2010/01/18/122701268/i-have-a-dream-speech-in-its-entirety
I just finished rereading it again out of respect for the man who we recognized yesterday as a nation. Like all great works you pick up something every time you read it. Maturity and individual growth allow you to view it with different eyes much like the spectacles in the first “National Treasure” movie.
I have wondered what Dr. King would say of our current state as a nation. I imagine our founding fathers figuratively rolling in their graves as we molest and pervert the great document they penned with absolute clarity as well.
In his speech Dr. King included the following:
“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
This piece is of particular relevance today. Dr. King understood that people feel slighted when they feel disadvantaged or disenfranchised. He understood that people get angry when they perceive inequality. In the next paragraph he went on to say that they must not distrust all white people as many of their white brothers were there with them in solidarity.
“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.
And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
We use different terms these days and the people are fighting on different lines and perspectives, but we can still learn some truths that Dr. King spoke so eloquently.
I actually hear these words as things I instruct my children. Let me see if I can convey it the same simple way, I do with them.
You cannot do what is wrong to achieve what is right.
You cannot accomplish your goals fueled by hate, bitterness, and resentment.
You cannot lump people together for the actions of individuals.
Simple, not elegant or all that original. These are thoughts most parents try to teach their children in one way or another. We may say it differently, but they are simple truths that held true before Dr. King shared them in his inspirational speech in 1963. They will be true long after you and I are gone and yet people will still struggle with these things.
We were all grieved by all the riots and violence this year as people misquote one of Dr. King’s other speeches. He called for non-violence and his daughter continues to call for non-violence and not to “cherry pick” her father’s words. Monday night she delivered remarks reiterating her father’s dream.
“This King holiday has not only come at a time of great peril and physical violence, it has also come during a time of violence in our speech — what we say and how we say it,” said the Rev. Bernice King, the slain civil rights leader’s daughter. “It is frankly out of control, and we are causing too much harm to one another.”
“There is such a thing as being too late.”
“We still have a choice today — nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation,” Bernice King said, again reciting the words of her father. “This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos and community.”
Dr King’s words were for every man, women and child and spoke to much more than racism, they spoke to civil rights in general. More to the heart, they spoke to how we treat other people and interact with each other.
As the world turns and people scream about things that have been fought over forever and we go forward you can control one thing, you.
Men, I call on you to be men. Lead by example. Be the change that is just treating all people, even those we do not like or agree with as humans. Be strong in your kindness. Be the men you are meant to be.
Tell me what you think in the comments!
The Fallible Man
Be better tomorrow because of what you do today!