Two days ago, I drove past a place of worship in my neighborhood, the sign read “new year, new hope.” I thought there was something quite prophetic in that short message. As we know, America will celebrate the King Holliday on Jan. 16th. We will pause to reflect on the greatness of the man and to re-commit ourselves to his principles of fairness and justice. Many of us have found his philosophy to be quite simple. He wanted all of us to treat one another with great dignity and respect. Turning talk into action, however, causes us the trouble.
“Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that,” King said. “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” On Jan. 16th there will be wonderful speeches, personal testimonies, and great singing. On this day, I would like to believe we will all be on the same page. We will talk passionately about our love for one another. There is something truly special about the activities on this day. Places of worship, auditoriums and other edifices will be filled with people singing, “We shall overcome some day.” I enjoy the spirit that comes with this great song. I believe with all of us working together that we can capture this spirit year-round.
America is great because it is a melting pot of ideas. These ideas come well intentioned, not meant to threaten, or intimidate anyone. King said, “Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and include everybody. Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideals hide them under a bushel for fear of being called different.”
He sought inclusion, not exclusion. He thought that different voices with different opinions should be included around the table of leadership. America can’t be America when there is always homogenous thinking. There is something powerful about diverse thinking. To paraphrase King, when evil men and women shout ugly words of hatred, good men and women must commit themselves to the glories of love. Where evil men and women would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men and women must seek to bring into being a real order of justice.
Wherever you celebrate the King holiday, be determined to make a difference in someone’s life. Don’t miss this opportunity, as I believe this is a defining moment. Dr King said, “Life’s most persistent question is, what are you doing for others?”