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MLK – Think About It

January 18, 2016

My vote, if we were to add another face to Mount Rushmore, would be Martin Luther King, Jr. He may not have been a president, but he changed the face of America with words, bravery and faith.

His idea of passive civil disobediance was perhaps the most powerful statement of meekness’ strength.  Meek does not mean weak, it means power restrained.

Had MLK not been meek, he would have been forgotten. Instead, history looks at him and his followers with shame. He’d done nothing to earn our ire, nothing to earn a bullet. I’m aware of his human failings, but I’m more impressed with his human strengths.

I don’t doubt the Black Lives Matter movement has value. Their message should be heard; it’s the delivery that’s wanting. When the oppressed get violent, they “justify” actions taken against them.

The Occupy movement started out as greatness. I may not agree with every point they tried to make, but it began passive. Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way. Public lewdness, indecency and property damage sunk their claims for most Americans.

I suspect the cause is impatience. Civil rights is still an issue. I hadn’t thought so since my personal and professional circles really don’t have a problem with racism, but clearly there remain issues.

Passive resistance, as MLK practiced it, understood the likelihood of martyrdom and pain.  He understood change would be slow, but as long as the goal moved forward, they would succeed.  He practiced patience and made more ground than any other movement.

Being raised in the Northwest, I don’t recall learning much about MLK in school (maybe we did; I skipped a lot). Movies and personal research changed that, but he should be taught in school, both his actions and the things that motivated him. If you can’t discuss his faith and biblical understanding, the model of Christ in his preaching, then you’ve missed the man.

BLM and OWS both owe a lot to MLK, but they missed the source of his power.  People dismiss the impact of the Bible and the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, and so attempt great things and become their own enemy.

I’ve been challenged by a black friend to not just be non-racist but anti-racist (I thought I was, but he’s probably right).  I’m just not sure what that looks like. I address it in my novels, because I think people need to confront it; not as a main theme though.

How many issues can we address? I have friends making a real difference in pro-life success. Others (and a bit myself) are active in the human trafficking horror. I had thought just refusing to be racist myself would be enough. Perhaps it’s not.

Bill Cosby, also apparently a man of great failings, said racism evaporates if we just stop talking about it. Morgan Freeman has stated that racism doesn’t exist because success is achievable for any individual person of color; they just may have to work harder. I don’t agree with that completely, but I do think racism exists differently on a personal level than it does on a group level. That is, an individual can evade racism by choosing to, even while the group does not. In the old days that meant being a step-and-fetch it; today it means being a professional. One doesn’t need to give up one’s personal culture, but when in the professional world, be professional.  I had a friend/adversary/co-worker/classmate in college who was a strident feminist. Everything denied to her was because she was a woman, NOT because she was strident, angry and rude much of the time. She got mad when I was made assistant manager instead of her. The manager confided he would have given it to her, but he couldn’t trust she wouldn’t yell at people over every little thing. Later she sued Starbucks for sexual discrimination. I suspect Starbucks was on the side of the angels…

Another time, I was passed over because I was white. Had they promoted my co-worker, I would have been fine with it. She was, in every way, a superior choice than me, even if I had promised me the job.  Instead they promoted someone who, in my opinion, was incompetent. Chaos ensued and we are both in better places now. God prevails.  Does that mean I know what it is to be discriminated against? Not really (there was a time fresh out of college where I wasn’t hired, but the female manager said, “don’t worry, with your looks you’ll be hired soon.”  I was stunned. First that anyone would think my looks could get me anything besides the back of someone’s hand, but that that would be why someone would hire me. To this day I don’t know if she was just making a sexist comment so I’d know how it feels. It felt weird, that’s how it felt).  An instance or two doesn’t speak to systemic discrimination.

As for the police shootings; some are awful, some are understandable. We should question why the cops shoot black people; we should also question why cops feel so threatened that they do. In most cases, I’m certain the officer felt justified and we don’t know enough to understand. There are some, though, that leave me stunned and horrified.  There is a black/police culture that is broken on both sides that needs to be addressed.

But this is what MLK should be all about. Asking ourselves the questions.

How might we affect change? Let’s take this day and feel its impact all year.

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