Heather and I took a trip to Washington DC on the Labor day weekend and spend a couple of days walking up and down the National Mall looking at the many sites.
I was particularly moved by the quotes at the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial.
What landed on me most of all was that the quotes apply to no person or group of people specifically, but to all of mankind. His language was inclusive, he referenced an almost universal struggle against the injustices suffered by any person. The quotes are from a time in human history when a number of different groups of people were pushing society to give them the same rights as the most privileged of any society. He was a man of colour, but before that, he was a huMAN and powerfully communicated the equality of all people.
Reading the quotes and noticing all the people who were spending time at the memorial it was both fantastic and frightening. Fantastic that a member of our species was capable of communicating so clearly what is right and needed for society to truly prosper. Frightening that some would regard this as so dangerous to their way of life that they would be compelled to murder him, and so many who were working to move society forward.
Society has made some strides towards embracing the dream he had, and we’ll continue move in that direction. But at the core of the love and hate that people share and act upon are beliefs. There is nothing unique about people today who view equality as a guiding principle. Had they been born in the 1940’s there is a good chance that they would not considered race or gender to be just tiny differences between people. They may simply believe differently than we do today because they were taught something different.
The quotes are worth reading and reflecting on even if you are not at the memorial. They apply as much today as they did when he spoke them, and they’ll always apply no matter how enlightened we may become.