Like most everyone I know, I just love Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In fact, someone once asked me if there was anyone in history (besides Jesus) with whom I could meet, who would it be. Without pause I answered MLK. I would love to know what he thinks about the incredible progress that has been made since the Civil Rights Era. I would also like to hear his advice regarding some of the challenges we are facing in our current cultural and political climate.
Yes, I have wanted to speak to him for decades, but now more than ever. You see, to me it is now personal. I have a niece, some nephews, a cousin, of mixed race. I have in-laws that are African-American. If I thought I worried before, that was nothing compared to how I worry now. I love them. When I see someone of African-American heritage hurt or talked badly about, in my heart and mind I see it as if it was done to, or said about them. At that point I burn up inside, ache, and my heart breaks. There are times I have felt it would drive me crazy.
I can hear some people saying “Oh, but it has gotten so much better”. And this is true….
But in some ways it has gotten worse. The advent of social media has provided a forum in which people spew the most hateful things at times. Just when I feel that the world has gotten more culturally friendly, all I have to do is visit facebook or twitter to see a sea of ugly thoughts that are so unbelievably backward, ignorant, and hateful, that they cannot, and should not, be taken lightly. This is what many people really think, and it’s frightening! The sheer volume of these statements should give America pause and realize that there is much more that we still need to do.
In my meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I imagine him first telling me: don’t worry. That he has been to the mountain top, and has seen the good things to come. I imagine him telling me to turn the worry into action. Not reaction, not inaction, just plain, unadulterated, action. I imagine myself asking him what actions he recommends, and here are some pointers he might give:
- Remember that everyone has their prejudices. No one is immune. We are to constantly monitor our thoughts and attitudes to be more Christlike. We do this through awareness and self-monitoring. It is a lifelong process, one day at a time. If you think you have “made it”, that you have no more prejudices, you have deceived yourself. Be constantly on guard.
- If you start your sentence with “I’m not prejudice but…” or “I don’t want to sound ignorant, but…” Stop! You are about to share a prejudiced or ignorant thought. Don’t just shut your mouth, examine your heart. Where does this belief come from? How does it hurt? What good does it do? Dig the attitude up by it’s roots, keep an eye out for it in the future, and nip it in the bud.
- There is plenty to go around. Stop the “us versus them mentality”. Giving one group something does not automatically mean that there is less available for another. Why? Because God is the provider. His supply is endless, his stores are abundant. His favor and blessings are available for all people. Rejoice when you see other people blessed. Not everything is a competition.
- The phrase “some people, you people, and those people” should be banned from your vocabulary. Just don’t go there.
- Treat other people’s issues and problems as if they are happening to you. That way you will have compassion and empathy for others. You won’t just rest on your laurels and say “oh well, too bad, so sad for them”. You will go into action, and be a part of the solution, instead of the problem.
- Stand up for the oppressed. It’s in the Bible. It’s not just a suggestion, it is a requirement.
- If you are in a situation that you know is wrong, and you want to respond, but don’t know how, look to your Higher Power. Pray for wisdom. Remember Christ, who was a great Equalizer. He knows just what to say and do. Call on Him, or the God of your understanding. God will never let you down.
So there it is, my meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At the end, we would embrace, I would place a kiss upon his cheek, and thank him. The embrace would contain power and embue magical properties, such as kindness, bravery, steadfastness, wisdom, and courage. I would take those magical properties with me, so that Martin would be among us.
Come to think of it, I think he already is….