This week we celebrate the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a visionary leader, an incredible motivator, and one of the most eloquent speakers to ever have lived. Dr. King was an incredibly gifted speaker, but also he did not let the bounds of what people thought was possible hold him back.
When I hear those scratchy old recordings that always get replayed during this holiday I cannot help but wonder what Dr. King would be working towards if he were alive today. Now let me be very clear, I do not think that we are in any way perfected in racial relations, nor are all the iniquities that Dr. King spoke against fixed. But we have come a long way from where we began.
When I hear the line “I have a dream…” it gives me pause, it makes me stop and think about the world that I live in. I grew up in a place that was a bit behind the curve in the ways of the world. Then I moved to a city that seems from the outside to have it all together, but I saw oppression and distress of a completely different kind.
We are often defined by our differences, by racial lines, by religion, by any number of hundred different things, but how is any human really different from another? Is not each human made up of constituent parts that are as a whole not that different from person to person. I understand the realities of racism and I also understand that we are not very different from each other, and therefore have to question our motives in defining ourselves.
As humans we like nicely controlled, neat little lives that really take the danger and vulnerability we all hate out of life. But what we truly need is less of this tightly controlled thing we call life. Many of us do not know uncertainty, we have lived our entire lives going from step a to step b to step c, but that is a life that is not steeped in the unpredictability of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. King and his contemporaries took very seriously the commands of Jesus to love their neighbor, even when their neighbor hated them. Even when Dr. King and other protesters were threatened with beatings or death, or had crosses burned on their lawns, they never wavered from following the convictions they believed were God given.
Dr. King is a constant reminder to me to follow after the Holy Spirit, as well as being an example in how to speak to a crowd. I heard this weekend that only the first 9 paragraphs of his “I have a dream” speech was written, the rest were extemporaneous. Dr. King was an incredible example in passion and gumption to stick to ones convictions, no matter how difficult that might be.
We all need a dose of a passion for our convictions. Not a belligerent and pig headed way, but in a way that affirms all human dignity. On the backside of this holiday, let’s remember the amazing life that Dr. King lived and take inspiration away from the way he lived.