In Honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)
Today we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., and while we acknowledge and promote his birthday, we seldom look deeply at his convictions which made him take a stand.
Over time the power of his voice grew, but the message remained the same – silence in the wake of civil injustice wasn’t an option. As a community, we cannot afford to be spectators of this life. When we spot oppression, we all need to push back against it.
Too often, it’s safer to deny what’s happening – we get it. But denial is death to ourselves.
Everything which culminates on this Earth comes from one true source. You can call it by whatever name you wish, but you cannot deny its existence. We are all connected to the source and to each other.
When we forget about our connection, we suffer and do unspeakable things to ourselves and each other. The forgetfulness of our connection is the source of most of the tragedies in our country and across the global community. When a child suffers in Africa, Israel, Russia, or Palestine, we all feel pain.
We talk and speak about injustice and prejudice, yet we silently watch as the rights of others are trampled by those who have power. Dr. King stated, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”
Those are powerful words, but it’s the truth. We try to rationalize or justify it, but it only masks what we know is wrong. We try to ignore the unsettled feeling, but it won’t go away.
Dr. King took his stand against those in power during the ’50s and ’60s, but his words still ring true today – “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
If we look over the past year, the civil unrest occurring is a direct result of the imbalance of power – oppression.
From police brutality and botched executions to voter suppression and election corruption, it was a terrible year for civil liberties in the United States. Protests were quelled by military-grade weapons in scenes worthy of a banana republic, and the divide between the rich and the poor in the freedom and justice they are afforded is Dickensian in its scope. While the country has evolved on marriage equality, it often appears to be backtracking on just about every other advance we have made, from the racial and gender progress of the 1960s to the most basic principles of the criminal justice system.
In order to change the tone of hate, we must speak up. Dr. King urged us all to feel passionate about freedom and justice – it takes courage to speak up. Remaining silent might seem safe – cowardice might seem like the easy way out, but it kills off your soul. Ignoring your conscience is a spiritual flaw that has consequences. Cowards never changed anything in this country.
Today is a good day to honor the memory of this great man. Where will you take a stand? It doesn’t matter where you were born and where you live now, or even your skin color. We are all connected to the same source. If one of us struggles today, we’re all having a bad day.
Dr. King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
How will you honor this great man’s spirit?