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Many people around the country will be enjoying a day off work or school today, a rare treat on the long road from New Year’s Day to Memorial Day.  I hope that they have a nice relaxing day, but I also hope they take a few moments to remember why this day was made a holiday 25 years ago.  After all, today we honor a giant in the realm of freedom and equality.

Today we honor Marin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps Shakespeare said it best when he had Hamlet utter the words “What a piece of work is a man.”  We are an imperfect species.  With our sentience seems to have come a strange unreasonable streak that has far too great a tendency to judge another based solely on what you see in them physically rather than the content of their character.  Many people have rebelled against such things, few have done it with the grace and dignity of Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is easy to meet prejudice and tyranny with violence.  It is the simple path to oppose those who would do violence to you, whether directly or through political and social means, with violence of your own.  Violence, after all, begets violence, as Moses noted.  True strength. true character is revealed when a man faces down injustice and violence with passionate, non-violent action.

This is Martin Luther King’s legacy, the dogged pursuit of justice and equality without becoming what you behold.  The maintaining of one’s moral integrity while resisting that which we know to be wrong.  This is not pacifism, this is dignified action measured to bring about change by demonstrating the foolishness, even the evil, that hate, violence, and prejudice bring to the table.

The days of the Civil  Rights Movement were dark days.  Many people suffered for what they believed in.  Many took up arms and fought back.  But, no matter how dark the night became, King was a steadfast island in the stormy sea beckoning all to shelter in the shelter of equality and brotherhood.  He is a man who is sorely missed and was taken from us far too soon.

I remember the man well.  I do my best to love up to his example and oppose what I know to be unjust, but do so in a manner that does not make me as bad as those I oppose.

Remember Dr. King today.  Remember his message that he both talked and walked.  Perhaps someday we will well and truly realize his Dream.


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