Monday, January 16, 2017

Why we can't wait

Today is the day we remember the great leader, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr and all the lessons he taught us. Dr King has been dead longer than he lived, but his legacy will be eternal, and for good reason. He had ideals. He was a man of love and of courage and of the belief that we really all are equal, and that everyone should be treated that way. Dr King didn't put things off hoping the next day would be brighter, he worked in the here and now, and encouraged others to do the same thing. His Letter from Birmingham Jail, written on April 16, 1963, gives us examples of why we need to do something NOW. There is an urgency that you can clearly see in this one sentence, that points out that waiting is not the way to go.

"But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your 20 million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your 6-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a 5-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs;” when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness;" then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait."

The same kind of urgency is always present when people are being treated unfairly. When people of color are being slaughtered by police officers, when our transgender sisters are being murdered just for being themselves, when elected officials take away healthcare from millions of Americans all in the name of politics - these are times when we can't wait. These are times when we must get involved and do something. What good is whining about an election, or about unfair wages, or about gun violence, or about racism or homophobia, if we are going to just sit back and allow things to stay as they are? Did we learn nothing from our brother Martin?

Wonderful ceremonies are taking place across the nation today, and numerous programs are reminding us of the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, but the biggest thing we need to remember is that when something is wrong, we can't wait. We need to get involved. We need to follow Dr King's lead, and do everything we can to bring justice to all.

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