I grew up in a town that only sometimes decided to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. My mother kept us home on MLK day and, instead of enjoying a full day of “vacation”, brought us to the library to learn more about the heroes of our heritage. After a bit too much introspection, I’m sure it is my mother’s emphasis on equality which really drives the person I am today. When the preacher from Alabama was a man alive, leading millions in a movement across the US and the World, I was not alive. If the preacher from Alabama did not lead millions in a movement across the US and the World, my life would undoubtedly not be as fortunate as it is today.
MLK was driven by an understanding of his Christian faith that meant peace and love. Peace and love… I am not a Christian. I am not Jewish nor Muslim nor Buddhist nor a theist. I don’t think there is much supernatural in our lives, but I am not sure of that. However, I am positive that living my life in the light of peace and love is right. And I am happy that the forces of other faiths and philosophies can help others find peace and love.
Love does not lose to fear. I listened to some popular talk radio personalities recently. What struck me instantly was the complete lack of positive outlook. Without exaggeration, I do not think I heard one single positive statement. Instead, each sentence was forged in negativity, disgust, apathy, and (most notably to me) fear. We are in a time when it is easy to be afraid. There are Scary People in the news with Scary Agendas. They taunt and steal and kill honest, caring people. MLK dealt this directly. Yet, he chose to act out of peace and love.
The Scary People, of the past and of the future, may have once been honest, caring people themselves until fear skewed their views and hearts.
Love does not fear the unknown or perceptions. Fear drives rash decisions that, on the surface, allow us to feel “safe”. Fear drives Scared People to war, motivates them to build literal and figurative walls, and causes them to hold to the familiar instead of embracing hope.
Love is no stranger to hope. MLK embodied love as a means to success. While he was not a morally perfect human being, he knew he had a mission: His mission was to lead the people of the world on the principle of equality via peaceful demonstration. He was the one who was called ugly names as he was arrested 5… 10… 15… 20… 25… about 30 times. King gave talks in the face of numerous, personalized death threats. He chose not to arm himself. He lived out his message, even when faced by the Scary People, Scary Times, and Scary Circumstances.
It is with this conviction which I try to live my life, in lieu of a solid doctrinal faith. I choose love when others are scared. When the Scared People and the Scary People let fear rule their lives, the world suffers.