Monday, January 17, 2005

Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside. But one day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Source: address at Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967 [quoted in today's daily dig]
I was born in July '68, months after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. My only recollections are second-hand. I've read a few of the letters from jail, and I've read some biographical works since school, where we learned a little but probably not enough about what he stood for and why he died. Someone just taking a stand, just challenging the status quo, just wanting what's right to be what's happening instead of so much of what's wrong.

His conviction that all people were created equal was even deeper than that same conviction handed down from this country's founders. In many ways, his message of a dream where we are all just people and not skin colors is needed as much as it was at the beginning of this country, and when he was preaching it from pulpits and from the steps of Washington, DC. There is still division, and there is still prideful arrogance that looks down at different opinions, different ideas, different worldviews.

Reconciliation is one of those things near to the heart of the Father, bringing us back to Himself and transforming our lives to live with each other. Dr. King knew that, and had to stand up for himself and for his family. We need to stand up for it, too - and for our own families and friends, no matter what the skin tone, no matter the dialect, no matter the voting preference, no matter the religious leaning. We honor God when we stand up for righteousness above sentimentality, when we do the right thing because it's the right thing.


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