Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the USA ~ and I say that’s a good thing.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech remembered

Don't we ALL have a dream? Image by EdStock.

Our country pauses today to remember a man whose tireless work to create more justice, fairness, and the realization of human potential inspired multiple generations:  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  This was a man with flaws, to be sure — as many great humans are flawed despite their genius — but one whose vision drew him to risk even his own life in pursuit of what he knew in his soul to be true.

While it may be widely assumed (incorrectly, I feel) that the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is about how we as a people handle racism, I see something more going on.  This is a day to celebrate possibility. ~ and to take a deeper, thoughtful, more heart-based look at where we (meaning you and I, as individuals, as well as a larger “we” as a culture and society) have a painful growing edge that we are, to one degree or another, trying to heal.

The holiday is intended to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a person, yes — but more than that, to honor that for which he stood and for what he taught to all who would listen.

This is not just about “white vs black:, who is right or wrong, nor what racism is or its solutions.  It’s bigger than that.  And I think it’s important.

As I see it, there are so many things we can all learn from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and from what he was trying his best to say to us.  He started a cultural conversation that continues to this day, and calls you to become someone better than you have been so far.  Just because we elected a black President doesn’t mean we have become a post-racial society; far from it.  But it’s progress.  And I know Dr. King would be proud of the progress we’ve made — and still be prodding us to go further, to take ALL of us beyond the fears, anger, and pain that breed cultural breakdown.

Let me add my thoughts to what I know others will be sharing this day about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King:

  • Follow your dreams, no matter who you are or how you may feel oppressed and burdened or by whom.
  • Celebrate what is good and positive and uplifting, always.
  • Know that there is strength in numbers.  While one person may lead or inspire, it is all of us together who truly make change happen.  And every one of our thoughts and actions count.  Dr. King knew that.  He taught that.  He embodied that.
  • Racism is not just something that “whites do to blacks” — it is an attitude that separates us from our common humanity, and from the sheer energy of connecting with others not like ourselves. We are all well served when we examine our hearts for bias, and remove it when we find it, lest we harm others with it.
  • What connects us as humans is bigger than anything that tries to divide us.  Seek common ground and hold it with all you are.

There are those today for whom dreams are nothing more than hopes; they are too busy trying to survive to even think about what could be possible.  Let us resolve to overcome what keeps people in bondage, and set them free that they too — and all of us — truly can live as we choose, and create for ourselves a peaceful world where together we have answers that work for everyone, not just for a fortunate few at the top.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr,’s dream lives and breathes today in all the Occupy spaces, in all the hearts that yearn for justice, in all the eyes of the children whose parents are doing the best they can to feed, house and clothe them.  He lives on in the promise that we can become the kind of people who care — and in the lives of those who are already living that promise and sharing their wisdom where it counts.

Today I say “Thank you, Dr. King.”  Your message lives on — and may it forever ring true and call forth goodness from us all.   Perhaps if Dr. King were alive today, he would support the Occupy movement — but more importantly I think he would ask us to Occupy Your Heart.

Can we talk about that?