MLK… and omitting none of the above

We walked. Talked. Spent time together. 

We walked and talked together.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was this past Monday. It’s a day that celebrates the Christian faith, call for justice and equality, and nonviolent approach of Dr. Martin Luther King. I’m no expert. And I don’t know that I’m really all that qualified to speak on this subject. But I’d like to believe that if a person doesn’t support all three of the above, then they’re not speaking for Dr. King.

I, too, am not capable of speaking for Dr. King. I’m simply an admiring student from afar.

I love many things Dr. King said…

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”

Hope. Light. Forgiveness… I think about when I justify something lesser…

Thinking of his 1965 speech in “Our God is Marching On!”…

“…It is normalcy all over our country which leaves the Negro perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of vast ocean of material prosperity. It is normalcy all over Alabama that prevents the Negro from becoming a registered voter. No, we will not allow Alabama to return to normalcy. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children…”

All of God’s children. King never saw justice and equality outside the framework of absolutely each of us being created in the image of God.

And then from one of my favorites, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” a letter written to the nation’s religious leaders in 1963. Remember that at the time, black persons were not allowed to vote. Heck, they weren’t even allowed to sit on the same place on a bus. How does such equate to “all men are created equal”? Yes, we have made some grievous errors; we have corrected some of those errors. But King got our attention… especially when he addressed the question of whether or not he was an extremist in his call to get us to love and respect all people…

“… Was not Jesus an extremist in love? — ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice? — ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ? — ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist? — ‘Here I stand; I can do no other so help me God.’ Was not John Bunyan an extremist? — ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a mockery of my conscience.’ Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist? — ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist? — ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ So the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?”

On Monday I took part with some friends along with our mayor, civic leaders and multiple others, just cleaning up a more impoverished area of our city. We walked and talked. Spent time together. 

The goal was to promote Dr. King’s legacy of service… his Christian faith, call for justice and equality, and nonviolent approach.

May we never omit one of the above.