Dr. King’s message is still relevant, maybe more than ever
- King was fervently opposed to the dehumanization and marginalization of a whole race, or an ethnic group, or a socioeconomic class
- His approach is holistic and encompasses the healing of the whole person, family, community, nation, and the world
- The temptation to domesticate Jesus, Gandhi, King, and other influential figures is pervasive
Today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.
He would have celebrated his 87th birthday. His assassination and premature death shocked and disillusioned the world. Although many of the critical issues confronting American society still persist, his valuable legacy might help us address some of these vexing problems in a more positive and constructive way. Rev. King’s life was not a paragon of sainthood (of course, depending on how someone defines it), however, there are many lessons we can draw and apply today from his political and social thoughts and civil rights activism.
Dr. King is one of those influential leaders who inspires us to engage our political, social, racial, and spiritual imagination and emboldens us to fashion his and our legacy in building a more equitable and compassionate society. He severely disrupted the deplorable and abominable status quo which blatantly supported heinous racism and toxic economic inequality. He wanted people to be treated with dignity and respect. He was fervently opposed to the dehumanization and marginalization of a whole race, or an ethnic group, or a socioeconomic class.
In his writings, the leader of the civil rights movement put forward different levels of human liberation, from external (socioeconomic) to internal (guilt, redemption) to spiritual (reconciling with God). His approach is holistic and encompasses the healing of the whole person, family, community, nation, and the world. Dr. King and other prophets sustain our hope that human beings, no matter how many times they have disappointed, hurt, and failed us, contain the seeds of justice, altruism, and most importantly practicing the truth. With his words and actions, he showed us that we should care more passionately about the civil rights of all individuals.
We, humans, are all together on this journey to weave a better future free of vile narcissism and atrocious exploitation. Whether you believe in afterlife or not, this one should be worth living for every single human being, all 7.4 billion of them. We should all emphatically oppose the banalization of evil, either mental or physical or both or the romanticization of discrimination, abuse, and violence. The gargantuan magnitude of the structural, entrenched, and endemic poverty bedeviling our society and the world should prompt us to find a new potent way to alleviate the burden mortifying the heart and soul of humanity.
The temptation to domesticate Jesus, Gandhi, King, and other influential figures is pervasive. We try to hijack their message and mission and align them with our own goals and agendas. When explaining his activism, Dr. King said: “Actually all I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry.” On this day, we should ask ourselves, “What is our ministry, passion, purpose in life?” Whatever it is, upholding the civil rights of your neighbor, the “other,” the stranger, the marginalized, and the poor, should be our paramount concern. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”