Today we celebrate the birthday of one of the most eloquent speakers ever — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He taught us the importance of love, peace, equality, and being kind to others. He spoke up about the things that matter and fought for them in peaceful ways.
He knew the importance of treating all people the same and as equals. He had dreams that his children would be treated fairly and that all peoples would be. (I found this photo on clip art. It is from the Hulton-Deutsch Collection according to biography.com.)
We can learn a lot from this amazing man. We can learn how to treat one another, that love is so much more important than hate, that all men are created equal and should be treated as such, and that we can fight for what we believe in without violence and harm to others.
He knew this and he lived it. But sadly he was gunned down for it. And that is heartbreaking and should not have happened. I will never forget the day as a young person that I saw the man who killed him. I still cannot believe that it happened.
We were doing prison ministry at the time with my parents at Brushy Mountain Prison. We were visiting other inmates at the time and James Earl Ray was in the same room. He was across from us and looked like an old man to me. At the time, I didn’t realize who he was.
Sadly, I later learned what he had done and who he had killed. Very sad and something I just didn’t understand. I was surprised that someone could hate another person enough to want them dead. The innocence of the young, right?
My parents taught us to love all people, to be kind to everyone, to not see the differences as bad things but instead as something to learn from. And, they taught us to treat others as we want to be treated. I was so fortunate to grow up with my parents and siblings and know these things.
I hope that we can treat others as Dr. King did — with dignity, respect, kindness, and love. Let’s never forget what he stood for and how he tried to make changes. He is someone to admire and to learn from.
So on his birthday, I want to say, thanks Dr. King for what you taught us and the man that you were. Thanks for your stirring and beautiful words, your passion for what you believed in, all of your work for civil rights, and your faith.
Here are a few of his quotes:
- “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
- “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
- “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
- “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
- “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
- “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
- “The time is always right to do what is right.”
- “I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
- “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
- “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”