Some of us begin this day simply grateful for a holiday. Perhaps some of us forget, or some are too young to remember, how this “holiday” came to be.
But there are some among us who are old enough to remember his actual voice; to have listened — live – on that sweltering August day in 1963 when he inspired us with the words:
I have a dream.
There are some of us who saw him stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on that golden day, the personification of President Lincoln’s vision of justice and equality.
There are some of us who listened and watched every step he took, every prayer he said, every challenge he met with equanimity and courage.
There are some of us who remember the very night he told us:
I have been to the mountaintop
and I have seen the Promised Land.
I may not get there with you.
But I want you to know that we,
as a people,
will get to the promised land.
There was a whole world of us who cried when he was martyred the very next day.
Monday is no mere holiday. It is the commemoration of a giant soul who changed the world forever. And he did it not in the way that many have done it throughout history — through wars and conquest.
Martin Luther King changed the world by non-violent protest, by a leadership of love, by a faith that endures beyond the assassin’s gun.
Say his name in reverence on this commemorative day. He has given all of us — no matter our color — the hope of a more human existence. If you have not had the gift of living in his time, ask your elders who remember his face, his sound, his power to tell you the story of the freedom God gave each of us.
In his memory, and to continue to realize his dream, we might consider these 12 steps to non-violence for our own lives.
12 Steps to Non-Violence
- Acknowledge your powerlessness — that our lives/culture are co-opted by subversive and pervasive violence
- Believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to right relationship.
- Decide to turn our will and our lives over to that Power.
- Examine fearlessly our own violent inclinations.
- Admit to that Power, to ourselves and to another person the exact nature of our own violence.
- Be open to have that inclination removed.
- Ask to have all violence removed from our hearts and actions.
- List all persons to whom we have been violent by word or deed and be willing to make amends to them.
- Amend directly to these people wherever possible and prudent.
- Self-examine continuously; promptly admit recurring violence in ourselves.
- Seek through prayer and meditation to know the nature of Peace and Mercy.
- Carry the message of non-violence to others and practice it in all our interactions.
Music: “Abraham, Martin and John” is a 1968 song written by Dick Holler and sung here by Marvin Gaye. It is a tribute to the memory of four assassinated Americans, all icons of social change: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. It was written in response to the assassination of King and that of Robert Kennedy in April and June 1968, respectively. (Wikipedia)
The song reflects the mix of awe, hope, sorrow and disappointment the nation felt in those tumultuous times.