But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Amos 5:24 (King James Version)
Yesterday was the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; he would have been 87 had he lived today. Monday is the official holiday observing Dr. King’s birthday here in the US. For the weekend, we’ll be inundated with specials, memorials, tributes, and city-wide ecumenical services. We’ll be reminded that Monday’s a day to “take on” (things to make a difference), rather than another day to take off (which most will do).
If Dr. King were here right now, he would be appalled. Today, injustices against Blacks hearken back to the days of Jim Crow. Other people of color fare no better. America again is fighting a war in Asia-and losing. And despite having a Black President, Dr. King would have words for him-and not all nice. Despite all the advancements made-which Dr. King (and others) gave their lives for-we have not progressed that far.
Dr. King’s words for justice and universal brother/sisterhood are needed now more than ever. The text from Amos was one of Dr. King’s favorites; and it still is needed in today’s America. We need to stop all the “celebrating” and start to do some listening. We’ve devolved into a violent lot that’s quick to demonize the “other,” whilst listening to demagogues who want to tear us apart. We’re quick to bomb instead of open dialogue. We have a clergy in America that’s quick to be BFFs with The Powers That Be instead of confronting them. Again, we’re seeing a widening gap between rich and poor. It’s high time we really listen to Dr. King; and not just play sound bites of him.
However, there are those who are taking up Dr. King’s words. Grassroots organizations that are effecting changes for people of color, the poor, the environment. People who are not just hearing Dr. King’s words, but are taking those words to heart and taking action. Pastors who are taking Dr. King’s mantle to speak truth to power, no matter the cost. There are those-like Dr. King-who are using the teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament prophets-to effect change from the local to the global level.
But it shouldn’t just be a few. We all should listen to Dr. King’s words while we have the chance to turn things around for the better. We must take up the cause of Christ as Dr. King did, and now!
So while we’re reminiscing, celebrating, and all that other stuff, let’s listen to the words of our late Brother Martin. For now more than ever we need to hear him.
(Image: I took this photo of this mural in Newark back in 2007. It’s gone now, however I thought it would be fitting for the theme of this post.)