What would Martin Luther King, Jr. think if he could see us today? Maybe he'd be more than surprised that we have a special day to commemorate his work. Perhaps he would look around our neighborhoods and wonder that so many still scream separateness? Perhaps he would be pleased to learn that words from his I Have a Dream speech are on many lips today. Perhaps he could tell that his goals are still alive.
Would he look at our political landscape and despair? Probably not - he faced worse. And he faced it with this thought: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." *
Maybe he would suggest that we remember that, for all of our fear and division right now, fanned by social media and a 24 hour news cycle that features all new items as having equal importance, that our country is built to survive. He would surely shake his head at the time and energy we waste on the non-essential outrages of Twitter.
Perhaps we should take today to look backwards at our history, but also forward into creating a future that can become a more just and comfortable place for all of us. That arc isn't dependent on politicians and commentators, it's on us. Maybe he'd tell us to toughen up our thin skins and get to work on whatever is in our reach to inch us along. Maybe he'd tell us that this is our country's next turning point, and that turning points are never easy.
*(The history of the phrase is explored here. It appears to have originated with Unitarian minister and Abolitionist Theodore Parker in 1853, relevant to the forces that led to the Civil War. When Dr. King first used it in print, he placed it in quotes, presumably crediting Parker.)
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