Today we honor the work and life of an American hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and yet as I look at what is happening in our country I know in my heart that he would say we can do better. A great multitude of people today still operate from a spirit of hate: and I was one of them.
Notice I said “was” not “am.”
If there was one thing Dr. King tried to get us to see it is that we must find ways to freely
express our differences from a spirit of love, forgiveness, and hope. I for one want to do better to honor his legacy of faith.
But this will mean doing something exceptionally hard: admitting when we are wrong. I understand how emotional this topic is for many people, and yet we cannot shy away from it nor its realities in our nation and world if we are to have a chance to grow beyond our differences. In that spirit, I wish to tackle what I believe are three things we can all learn from Dr. King and how applying those lessons in our daily lives can help us as a nation achieve a new level of cooperation, trust, and forgiveness:
1. Quit focusing on past injustice.
2. Set our eyes on the good and the progress we have achieved, not just our failures.
3. Make God and faith the center of our lives and our hearts.
So first, the history of injustice. Has there been injustice in America? Of course, but that injustice has not just been against Blacks and other minorities. Dr. King’s vision was freedom and justice for ALL peoples, not just those of his own race. If we as a people continue to spend all our time on every injustice of our nation’s history we will inevitably diminish the great strides we have made as well! We now see all races represented throughout our society from politics and the sciences to art and education. When once we could not even attend the same school with white students, we now see minorities and women serving as leaders in business, government, and even reaching to the stars as Astronauts.
And yet some people in our country still want to focus on how a Founding Father was a slave owner and teach an alternate version of history that leads to a belief that America is the enemy of justice?
This leads to my second point – focus on the good.
The reality is that America is a beacon of hope and freedom throughout the world and there has been no other nation, culture, or civilization in the history of mankind that has been more free. This is part of the legacy of Dr. King and to minimize it is to also diminish his lasting effect on our society.
We truly must embrace the fact that despite the work that can and must still be done, we have made great strides in achieving the vision Dr. King so passionately fought and gave his life to achieve.
Lastly, we must make God the center of our lives. No rally, no monument, no news article, and no words honoring the work of Dr. King would do justice to his life if we forget that it was his faith in God and the Bible that was at the core of his being and was the centerpiece of his heart for equality and justice for all. This is the fruit of faith. By turning our hearts and minds back to the Lord, we have a chance to recover from this bitterness and anger permeating our world. This is not just about policy, it is about having a change of heart and CHOOSING to love our neighbor as ourselves.
That is what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught and what I believe he would still teach today.
So, as we go throughout our day today, let us think on what his legacy really means for our future…it means taking steps each day to shed our minds and hearts of petty hatred and contempt. It means choosing to try and forgive those who seek our forgiveness. It means being a voice in our homes and communities that will teach those around us that there is a better way; a way that includes faith, hope, and love. This does not mean we can’t argue passionately! Stand up for what you believe and be a voice, but always remember that in the end we are all Americans.
Let us try to use this day to honor Dr. King’s legacy of faith.