Today, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death, a friend, Ashley Elizabeth, reflected on Facebook, “Would we have championed Dr. King [back then]? We can post quotes and pictures and memes all day long because we know how the story ended. We can place ourselves on the right side of it all, confident of our beauty and grace. …”
“We can confidently still, of course, declare with a resounding yes that we would have boldly stood against our pastors and parents and teachers and friends and stood shoulder to shoulder with the man whose message we quickly retweet today. We might have. You might have. … I want to think I would have. I want to believe I would have summoned the courage to freely lay down all the things given to me not by right but by might.”
Ashley Elizabeth’s reflection is raw and honest, It’s from a thinker and lover of mankind. It made me think about me. My weaknesses. Lessons learned. My time left.
Everyone I know seems to agree: Dr. King was very unpopular in his day, but he was a man who righteously fought the unhealthy mores in his time. Racism. Division. Injustice. Inequality. Mores that still exist.
So I want to ask a related question. We are in challenging times. What do you stand for today?
Do you stand with the legacy of Dr. King, who in 1957 delivered his epic Loving Your Enemies speech, against today’s incessant personal attacks by certain leaders? Are you against attacks on our Constitution, regardless of your political affiliation? A free press? Protection from unjust search and seizure? Support of our institutions that investigate and fight today’s injustices?
In recent years, leaders from both parties not only have been flirtatiously opposed to such protections, but some now openly flout their displeasure of our constitutional protections and individual rights. Line up the Bill of Rights, and you’ll find a bevy of attacks on the Founders’ protections that were so carefully crafted.
1st Amendment: Safe spaces. “Fake news.” Attacking the rights of protestors. Anti-religious freedom.
2nd Amendment: No guns at all, or no reasonable restrictions/protections at all.
4th Amendment: Degradation since 9/11 by all three presidents.
10th Amendment: A federal tsunami unchecked.
Today, is it better, and safer, to remain silent? Is denigration acceptable? Are we more secure to remain in a noisy herd, with our badge of political identification? Can one part from apparent identity protections and benefits? Can anyone leave the herd without consequences? Dr. King left the herd, and paid the ultimate price. But he headed another herd in spirit, which we honor today, rightfully.
My hopeful take going forward? We are Americans, with common values the Founders and Dr. King embodied. Yes, we will always have our disagreements. But together we stand under our constitutional and divine protections, or divided we fall.
May we reverse our current course, stand with their legacy and promote our human affiliation, as best we can.
“In the name of love.”