People are flawed and so I'm not much for hero worship. When even Christmas is watered down to be more about buying out the Walmart toy aisle than it is about Christ, it seems to smack of political correctness to choose Martin Luther King, Jr., as the only human on the planet deemed worthy to have his very own official US holiday. (OK, except Columbus Day, but does anyone celebrate it even the mailmen?)
But this year Martin Luther King, Jr., day stuck in my mind more than usual. The fundamental idea of fairness is very significant to me and Dr. King's mission and his life's work has stands out as a shining example of being willing to sacrifice for a greater cause. Coming on the eve of the inauguration of our first black president makes these things seem very powerful.
Obama still scares the beejeebers out of me. I struggle daily with being thrilled at the breakdown of a longstanding barrier of fairness and goodness and being horrified that the majority would vote for anyone man or woman of any color who stands for the particular ideas Obama promotes. But I'm trying to move my focus at least for tomorrow on the thing I find positive and wonderful: we are truly learning to be color blind.
As a child I was raised in mostly white Utah. My parents made it clear, whenever such situations arose, that racism was wrong, illogical, and just plain stupid. My best friend in 2nd grade, Nora, was hispanic. My best friend in 6th grade, Ella Mae, was Navajo. Since I didn't see racism in my little world, I thought of it as something from the past, as something that people “in the olden days” (who didn't know better) did.
I was embarrassingly old when I found out differently. I was watching a documentary about the Freedom Riders. And then the date flashed on the screen. May 4, 1961. 1961. Only three years before I was born.
People killed people over skin color in my lifetime? I could not believe it. I sat on the couch with tears streaming down my face.
Racism is something I don't understand. Sexism, too, though it's a bit more murky in my mind because I acknowledge that there are fundamental gender differences. But all in all it seems like a basic, common sense, decent, civil rule that people should be judged “by the content of their character.”
After the inauguration, maybe we can get back to that. What is the character of the American people? our leaders as well as the citizens at large? Is it what God would want from us?
As Abraham Lincoln accepted the Republican nomination for president, he said these words:
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure half slave and half free. I do not expect the union to be dissolved. I do not expect the House to fall. But I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.
As the calls for hope and unity abound, we should remember some fundamental truths. Hope in incorrect principles, won't save our country. Being unified in the chaos of amorality, won't keep us free. It will only be by becoming “all one thing” in truth and righteousness that this country will be all that it can (and should) be.