Thinking about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this day of his assassination. All that he did prior to his death at the age of 39 still amazes me. Years after his death, our memories of him and our official national portrayals have softened his image. Dr. King was once the most polarizing person in the United States. King spoke and acted for justice in the midst of the injustice of the era of segregation. In his quest for justice, he challenged the status quo and the powers that think they are in control.
I am no expert on the ministry or the speeches or writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. I stand back as one who saw the national response to his work. He spoke with the voice of the Hebrew prophets Amos and Micah and Hosea, and he spoke with the nonviolent reality of Jesus. People followed him as one who had moral authority.
One of my favorite quotations from Dr. King came from a sermon he gave in Montgomery, Alabama: “And I believe…the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
Today we are continuing to see that long arc bending ever gradually toward justice; however, we see much resistance in the form of increasing injustice. How are we dealing with injustice? In A World Worth Saving, I offered some thoughts on seeking justice in the midst of injustice:
The cry of injustice begins in our preschool years when we are not treated the way we wanted to be treated. In elementary school we learn that our actions have consequences, sometimes widespread. Perhaps our sharpest cries of injustice call out during adolescent years when our vision is sharp and perception cuts through the polite veneers of society. Adolescence and young adulthood focus our vision further allowing us to comprehend social issues at basic levels of right and wrong.
But then a time comes when our hearts no longer see and our spirits no longer perceive injustice. The responsibilities of work and family temper our vision. We shrug and say, “It is what it is.” We decline offers to act on behalf of causes that once engaged and excited us. We feel the constraints of time. We tire of the fight. Our sense of right and wrong becomes calcified in a way similar to the hardening of arterial walls during middle age. (pp. 73-74)
Today—as always–injustice wants to lower a shade of darkness over all that is light and love and truth. Yet I believe that we have the power to change that balance. As we move forward, we honor those who went before us–all those who strived to end injustice.
Keep working—for we shall overcome!