Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which, in my humble opinion, is one of this nation's most honorable holidays. Not only because it is the solitary celebration acknowledging the diversity upon which our nation is truly built, but also because it honors a man who made a difference not with might or sword, but with steadfast patience, deep compassion, and an unwavering belief that hate can never be overcome with more hate, but rather only with love.
The words of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic I Have A Dream speech have been on my mind quite a lot over these last months. While I aspire to be a person of deep peace, I must admit to you here that I am not naturally inclined in that direction. In the face of social injustice, it is most frequently my rage that surfaces first, and I can quickly find myself shaking my fist in the air and railing at no one in particular, venting my fury at the general universe. This instinct to lash out helps me understand how groups of people can easily turn to rioting and violence when they feel impotent and powerless to affect real change, when the provided channels to seek justice fail them over and over again.
Over the last several months, we've watched in horror as unarmed teens lose their lives unnecessarily to a militarized police force with unacknowledged and therefore unaddressed bias, as terrorist groups systematically destroy entire communities, as violence erupts over and over, sinking the world into what seems an ever-growing chasm of suffering. And I want to DO something. I want to grasp the hands of my fellow human and say, "Enough. We've had enough of this."
It is in these moments that I most need this man's guidance, his words of beautiful and unerring strength:
"But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force."
"Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force." I am rocked by these words. To refuse to back down, to rise up again and again and again "on the high plane of dignity and discipline" and to be utterly unwavering in our commitment to acknowledge the value, the undeniable worth of every single man, woman, and child and their right to live lives free of violence and fear and discrimination. This, I am ever more convinced, is the only path forward.
Today of all days, I choose to pause. To pause and acknowledge how far we've come, as a nation and as a global community. To pause and acknowledge that we have a great deal of work left to do. More than fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired us with the incredible articulation of a dream, we are still dreaming. We are still working to dismantle systemic discrimination. Of race. Of gender. Of sexuality.
And today of all days, I choose to remember that it can only be with unyielding love, with deeply rooted and unswerving compassion, that this dream has a chance of becoming reality. For all of us. Every day.
How are you celebrating this great man today?