Most everyone is familiar with Martin Luther King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech. Therefore, what more fitting tribute to Martin Luther King Day than to quote the words he spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial:
"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."
Dr. King knew violence would give the government all the license it needed to smash the Civil Rights Movement. But the principles of non-cooperation as taught by M.K. Gandhi are the ultimate weapons when fighting a moral battle. By never bowing to violence, by a willingness to receive a blow but never to give one back, anyone can seize the upper moral ground. And once you control the moral ground you are bound for inevitable victory in a cultural war. The decent people will support you and the forces of the status quo will realize they cannot beat you, so they must negotiate with you. Gandhi and King both understood that their real battles were against a culture and not against their country.
But my personal favorite line from this famous speech: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
What greater wish can anyone have for their children? I too pray that both my children will be judged by the content of their character and not be any other arbitrary measure. Therefore, on this Martin Luther King day, I wish to express my hopes that we continue as a nation to remember the lessons of Dr. King so that we can make a better future for our children.
Happy Martin Luther King Day.
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