Today is MLK Jr. Day. To some it may not mean much, but to many it means a lot. It means that we get to recognize the progress of our forefathers, our great grandparents, our grandparents and even our parents. We live in an age of unprecedented racism and in the wake of social media it is more widespread than ever before. It’s like small fires that never seem to go out, and just when you snuff one out, another emerges from the embers. I’ve noticed how many people both in life and in politics would like to blame to current administration, but I think that its ignorant and irresponsible to give one person so much credit for discord that’s existed long before he ever took office. This isn’t new. This didn’t start with the 2016 campaign. We all have that little racist bone in our body that we swear we don’t have. We were born with it because we were born sinners. And while our circumstances and experiences dictated how that bone grew in our lives—nevertheless it’s there.
In terms of progress, we have absolutely made some great strides, but we’ve also had some setbacks. And while many of these setbacks speak louder than some of the progress, we can’t forget how far we’ve come. We live in an age where you can be someone’s sworn enemy without ever knowing who they are. Political parties don’t tell you anything about a person because so many people are single issue voters. That’s like saying you know everything about a person based on their like or dislike of asparagus. I have seen people groups denigrate other people groups based on the color or their skin, political affiliation, social issues, gender, sexual orientation; and at the crux of it all, you have one people group who think they are more superior than the other or think they know better than the other.
This is not what MLK Jr. stood for. And the fact that some people use his name, legacy, and words out of context is purely inappropriate. He wanted people to be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. He wanted protest to be fought with meaning and not violence. He wanted life to be cherished and more than that he wanted our better angels to prevail. Let’s not abrogate our responsibility to live up to his good name—let’s be agents of change and progress and not deepen our pain and hatred by expelling pain and hatred onto other people. I echo the words of Michelle Obama because I think they are more fitting in this context: When they go low, we go high.
Pain, anger, and hatred does not have to be our future—and together, we can change that. We have a responsibility to change the narrative of our country because this divide can be the end of us. MLK Jr. didn’t sacrifice himself in the name of progress, in fact, he didn’t sacrifice himself at all—he was murdered in cold blood. He was not done, his work was not done and because his life was taken, we owe it to him to pick up the mantle and finish what he started. Let’s be better because to be anything less is unacceptable.