Martin Luther's life was tragically short, but his list of accomplishments long. Just 39 when he was felled by an assassin's bullet, Martin Luther King, Jr.
has continued to inspire us through his deeds, beliefs, leadership and words long after he slipped his earthly bonds.
Even with the passage of so many years, his words continue to guide us, challenge us and inspire us to be more compassionate human beings and better citizens of our world. Because of Martin Luther King, we still believe that our better days lie ahead of us, that we too shall overcome and that one day we will all be measured by the content of our character and not the color of our skin.
Indeed, his central themes of equality, opportunity and peace - brought to light through his superb oration and bold words, echo through our past and carry us through our present, from the inspiring words of his "
I Have a Dream Speech,"
heard by 200,000 supporters in Washington D.C., to his historic marches in which he risked imprisonment, personal injury and even death.
On the anniversary of his birth, it seems appropriate that we consider our own deep and abiding responsibility to our society and to our fellow human beings, knowing that if we are to be truly free, we must escape the shackles of hate, indifference and ignorance that imprisons us.
Perhaps just as important, it reminds us that we must speak for those who have no voice, rising above our own lives to improve the lives of others.
Indeed, his central themes echo through our past, and carry us into our present, from his famous "I Have a Dream"
speech, heard by 200,000 supporters in Washington D.C., to his historic marches in the names of equality, opportunity and peace. "
The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood," he once said, noting the importance of such a calling. "
We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive."
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, King once remarked on the difficulty of engaging in struggle, saying: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
One must wonder what the world would have been like if King had been able to celebrate his 84th birthday, having continued on his journey to make this world a better place to live for the last 45 years. Unfortunately, the problems of today aren't much different than the problems in his day; the struggle to improve the human condition, to end suffering and advance equality continues.
Celebrated this year Monday Jan 21st - Born: January 15, 1929
As the nation mourns and struggles to come to terms with the most recent violence against our youth, our communities and our own innocence, perhaps we should honor Martin Luther King's birthday with deep reflection on his own messages, which still so powerful today, including this quote:
"Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method that rejects revenge, regression, a retaliation. The foundation of such method is love."