Its probably cliche to write about MLK today, but he and his legacy are on my mind.
This is a quote that was used as the basis for the message yesterday church:
What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
I find it interesting that when you look back at what King said and fought for, he wasn’t just fighting for the rights of African-Americans. His words are ultimately appropriate for every type of injustice. The civil rights movement is for more than freedom and equality of black people, but freedom and equality for all people.
We are all truly equal no matter who we are. The Bible says we are all created equal and in God’s image. If we were all created equal then we should all be able to live as equals in a free society. Sadly this doesn’t occur. There are still currently significant gaps in every indicator across racial lines. And there are still people and states trying to take away the rights of equality (same-sex marriage).
King also says:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
For a long time this quote was the signature on my e-mail:
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
I have been given great privilege in my life, by being born into a middle-class white family. Sure my parents were divorced and we struggled to make ends meet, but my existence and future was never threatened in the same way of my neighbors and friends now. It is easy to sit on the couch, listen to the news, and to shake our heads about those poor people. But have you thought about the ways you are contributing to their “poorness?”
If you aren’t actively pursuing righteousness or justice then who are you serving? The oppressor?
We need to continue the fight that has not ended. It is amazing that we have a Black president. There are millions of successful African-American men and women. But there are still millions more African-American, Latino, Asian, African-born men, women, and children who are stuck in an oppressive system with no clear path out.
Part of the way out is for you and me to realize our role and our family’s role as oppressors. I had relatives who owned slaves. I had relatives who fought on both sides of the Civil War. I had and have relatives who aren’t necessarily racist in the “evil” sense of the word, but who haven’t thought and fought through the stereotypes they have. This quote from King sums that up:
Many of the ugly pages of American history have been obscured and forgotten. A society is always eager to cover misdeeds with a cloak of forgetfulness, but no society can fully repress an ugly past when the ravages persist into the present. America owes a debt of justice which it has only begun to pay. If it loses the will to finish or slackens in its determination, history will recall its crimes and the country that would be great will lack the most element of greatness — justice.
In many places King’s dream has come true. Our daughter enjoys playing with children from all walks of life at church, on the playground, and at our English class. We hope and pray that she’ll continue to build these relationships and to not let color, economic background, or fear to get in her way of friendship and love.
At the bear minimum we need to find love. Love for the kid who has a messed up family life and can’t help the fact that he’s too tired to learn at school. Love for the woman who doesn’t know anything but abuse and so abuses her kids. Love for the man who never had any one show him how to be a man without exerting his strength on a weaker person. Love for people who don’t have conflict resolution skills outside of fists and weapons.
Love drives out fear and we need to replace hate and fear with love:
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
Along with hate and fear comes the unknown. But I think deep down we all know when something is right or wrong. I do believe that we are all born in the image of God. With that comes the innate sense of right and wrong. How many little kids do you know that have a clear sense of fairness or justice? It becomes warped through time as they get older and see the corruptness around them. But I do think that even as it has been corrupted we still have it inside of us and can fight for what is right.
Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.
Will you stand today on the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and fight for what is right today?