Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day for reflection. A day for service to our community. And an opportunity to remember with our family and friends, the legacy of a man who taught us how to use our words and peaceful actions to stand for justice, and bring lasting change to a nation in need of providing greater equality for its citizens.
Words from the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:
“Don't ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them. We must use the weapon of love. We must have the compassion and understanding for those who hate us. We must realize so many people are taught to hate us that they are not totally responsible for their hate. But we stand in life at midnight; we are always on the threshold of a new dawn.”
Just as the weapon of love can be used to fight injustice, the power of propaganda and “hate speech” can lead to violence in efforts to remain in power. The negative messages perpetuated by Donald Trump have driven some Americans to violently storm our nation’s Capitol building, and more riots are anticipated for Inauguration Day. We should all be asking, what actually merits protesting? Is there really true injustice? Or is a single person trying to create an illusion of unfairness to stir up hatred and support?
There are so many real issues which we could be working together on. Access to quality health care, worker’s rights, affordable housing, improving infrastructure, better public education, growing small businesses. These are the issues that will bring us as a nation forward and increase opportunity for all Americans. How have we become so divided? Have we gotten so into our own bubbles, consuming media that confirms our own biases, that we no longer welcome differing points of view?
Let us reflect on this day remembering Martin Luther King Jr. the power that we all have in expressing ourselves, peacefully. When we stand together against injustice, we must not need to be violent, because others will recognize that they are on the wrong side of history. Perhaps Donald Trump has ignited a fire for many people who feel he represented them, and they cannot accept his loss. The need to resort to violence demonstrates that the protesters are not standing up for true injustice, but the delusion of a president who is unwilling to admit defeat. MLK would have never condoned violence.
We should avoid the hate. We can instead love, listen, and learn to channel our energy to unite, and confront the many challenges we will face ahead as a nation.
“We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King Jr. did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love…. What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.” ―Robert F. Kennedy
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
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