Wednesday, January 23, 2019

MLK: Poet of Justice

We had a school holiday on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There are only a few Americans who stand high enough in our country's esteem to warrant a day away from work and I hope enough of us stop to consider the reason for the observation.

There's a lot to admire about this man and the lasting good he helped usher into our country.

It's worth remembering, too, what it cost him.

But when I think about Martin Luther King, Jr., it is his words that echo in my heart and mind.

When my daughter was in 5th grade, I went with her class on a trip to Washington DC. I've been several times to see that fair city, but I had never before visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

It does him proud. The statue is grand, and striking. Visually, the way the man seems to be emerging out of the unformed stone behind him speaks to strength and struggle, the unfinished nature of the work of justice, and of dignity.

The best part, though, is all the quotes.

The walls are lined with many of his words.

It was a joy to stand there listening to 5th graders reading them aloud to each other and nodding with the truths that echoed in their own hearts.

The man had wonderful ideas, but more important to his legacy, he expressed them well: memorably, poetically, powerfully.

Some of my favorites:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits."

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

"True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."

“We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

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