Monday, January 21, 2008

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is MLK Day. As I've progressed into adulthood (ever so slowly:-), I've increasingly encountered the words and teachings of MLK in my reading and listening. To be honest, I've felt somewhat cheated that I wasn't exposed to these words earlier in my life. I remember, as a child, when the official celebration of MLK Day went through some controversial times here in Arizona. And on top of that mess, I don't think anybody ever provided me a true-to-life picture of who Martin Luther King was as a man and as a leader. Sure, I'd heard the "I Have a Dream" speech at school, but then I'd also hear not-too-subtle murmurings from my Caucasian, upper-middle class surroundings about his marital infidelity... you know, because REAL leaders and world-changers never deal with ANY sin in their life! This subconscious, generational racism and hatred still makes my head spin. (oy... I obviously have some baggage here)

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that MLK said and wrote some phenomenal statements in his lifetime... statements that shook the world and hearkened back the path laid out by Jesus... and here's what is most important: MLK embodied the revolution of which he spoke, and it got him killed.

Here's to the memory of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for... and died for.

" [we are] bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism.... This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all.

...I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. But they asked, and rightly so, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government."
- "A Time to Break the Silence" (speech, meeting of clergy and laity concerned about Vietnam, Riverside Church, New York, April 4, 1967)

"There is nothing wrong with a traffic law which says you have to stop for a red light. But when a fire is raging, the fire truck goes through that red light, and normal traffic had better get out of its way. Or when a man is bleeding to death, the ambulance goes through those red lights at top speed. There is a fire raging... for the poor of this society. Disinherited people all over the world are bleeding to death from deep social and economic wounds. They need brigades of ambulance drivers who will have to ignore the red lights of the present system until the emergency is solved."
- The Trumpet of Conscience