Today is the federal holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. His actual birthday is Jan. 15. President Reagan signed the holiday into law on Jan. 20, 1986. All 50 states began celebrating the holiday in 2000.
I contemplated Dr. King’s life and ideas in my meditation last night. His words never fail to touch a cord. Today some look at his personal life and information about him and find him controversial. I submit that many people that would come forth baring their souls to bring about transformation could be considered such. It’s a tenuous path getting people to look in the mirror and search their hearts. They may see something they don’t like but most important they would see the similarity between all humans. That’s the shock.
This year is an election year and the usual rhetoric is flaring. It is filled with the typical code words for divisiveness as it has generally been. You know the words whether as blaring as minorities, gays, immigrants, unemployed, poor, etc or coded in pseudo speak that reaches into the entrails of those needing a scapegoat for the ills that irk them.
My mind was clouded with the story of 9-year-old Kathleen Edwards, who died last week of Huntington’s disease. She was taunted online on Facebook and yet despite that unthinkable cruelty hundreds more responded to her with love and support. That is the beauty. This little girl lived with the grace of her illness the best she could. The face of cruelty and negativity attacked her as it does daily to many others. Yet her story drew support.
The question is when and will we get past this? When will we as humanity recognize that together and united we can create a better world for all of us? For those with hearts mired in prejudice, hate, cruelty and separation that day is not upon them.
Perhaps as we read stories of bullying that leads young people to commit suicide, cruelty that destroys and maims others it may lead us to look right beside us at those whose stories don’t make the news. Maybe we can offer some support. This is the legacy of King, to look within at our strengths as well as at the pains of our humanity and find the greatest song within us and sing.
2012 is a year of change. So much has been said about this year. I believe the power of this time is that we can look back and begin to erase the divides that separate us one step at a time.
That which unites us is greater than that which separates us. Possibly that is the bane of the fear and negativity that seeks to consumes our societies. It’s the similarity that inspires the hate. King, Gandhi and countless spiritual, political, and transformative leaders have lead the call for basically, peace, love and understanding.
King said, “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” I Have A Dream (1963)
Strength to Love
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also touched on many points in regards to the effects of hate in his book Strength to Love (1963) This book can be found online at Google Books. Some of his key points are below:
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”
“The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Today take a moment and reflect on the deeper message that people like King and Kathleen and many others portray. They ask us to have the strength to love. Do we have it, not just for those we know but for others?